Editors Note: Md Intaj Ali is a young lad from Dubrajpur, Birbhum, not exactly connected with Visva Bharati University, but deeply familiar with Santiniketan. I came into contact with Intaj, basically while working on Joydev Mela, Santhal Dances, Patachitras and similar related stories. Intaj by that time already had already documented several features of Baul & Fakir songs, some typical village songs of Birbhum & Burdwan district, Tribal dances, Patachitra and the famous ‘Mama Bhagne Pahar’ of Dubrajpur out of his own interest. He is always looking for topics deeply ingrained in folk and tribal psyche of India. Intaj is now at Hyderabad, pursuing his higher studies in Hyderabad University. After going through the recent article on Patachitra in this website ‘Muktodhara’; he immediately contacted me for sharing some of his video documentation on Patachitra- and we are just too happy to put them in our site. We appreciate Md Intaj Ali’s interest and insight; and feel great to come in contact with the face of young India.

Intaj- you are always warmly welcome in our site ‘Muktodhara’. Thanking you immensely-Shubhahsida.


Storytelling tradition in Bengal consists of different art forms.  As for example stories can be represented through Painting, Dance and Songs. Moreover stories can exist in different forms – visual, abstract, oral and written. Story-telling tradition can be judged as a living human treasure which is a true representation of  culture. Patachitra is one of the forms of story-telling through painting. It belongs to the oral tradition .It had been expanded by people through generations to generations among the patuas to put the stories in a live form. It has great impact in the societies as well as culture.

Patachitra is one of the ancient folk arts of West Bengal. It can be defined as a kind of narration through painting.So it is not just about painting rather it is a narration of story. That story can be gathered from ancient religious epics or from day to day social issues. It is very difficult to trace its origin and development through the pages of history. Some researchers opine that its origin can be traced back to more than 2500 years ago in the ancient age. Even it was extensively used in narrating the Epics and Puranas. Through that we can understand its significance in the art and culture and its antiquity. Patachitra stands in between painting and poetry, music and story. They earn their livelihood by visiting different village fairs and festivals in the cities. Their subjects include not only the Sufi traditions, Ramayana, Purana or the religious epics but also social issues like the Tsunami, the September 11th attacks, the Kashmir earthquake, the Gujarat earthquake, sanitation, and bloody Hindu/Muslim religious riots, HIV/AIDS and so on. Patuas generally apply natural eco-friendly colours, which they make from various trees, leaves, flowers and clay in their surroundings available to them. Another interesting fact about this painting is that it has a great resemblance with Santali Jadu Pata paintings or the magical paintings.

Gradually this unique art form is decaying due to lack of promotional endeavor and advancement of the latest technology in the field of art. Complete disappearance of this unique art will not only be a major setback to the Bangla culture but also to the entire world. But with little official effort to save it, very unfortunately these  unique  art of storytelling  are dying a slow death. Now the question is how can one preserve such oral traditional folk art? One can preserve and conserve such oral tradition by promoting the slogan like art for life’s sake and art for livelihood.

THE VIDEO LINKS IN U-TUBE (loaded by Md Intaj Ali for all of us on this occassion):










Md Intaj Ali is M.Phil Research Scholar in Comparative Literature in Centre for Comparative Literature; University of Hyderabad . His thesis is on Comparative Literature entitled: “Revisiting and Reinterpreting Baul in the Contemporary Context”. His areas of interest are:Translation Studies, Comparative Literature, Culture Studies, Film Studies, Folk culture, Documentary making, Tribal Studies and so on. He has presented research-papers in a number of National & International Seminars on several topics related to his areas of interest. His research paper titled “Intersemiotic Translation of Emotion: An Encounter of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay and Satyajit Ray” is published in the book ‘Trends in English Language Teaching: The Changing Landscape of English’ by Commonwealth Publisher, New Delhi with ISBN number 978-81-311-0382-1 in 2012. Another paper titled “Representation of Indian History through Tran-creation with special Reference to Qurratulain Hyder’s The River of Fire” is published in the book “History in Literature –Literature As History-The Issue Revisited” by Levant Books , Kolkata with ISBN number 978-93-80663-50-0 in 2012.

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  1. Wonderful posting…thanks…!

  2. ravi kant dwivedi says:

    A well written article by Md. Intaj Ali. Just want to add some to it- Patachitras are pictorial narrative art or visual storytelling, which can be described as precursor to cinema, findings of a recent American research is that Bengal Patachitras are the mother of all comic strips of the world. As far as history of Patachitra is concerned, Storytelling is an ancient and vulnerable art form that humans have subsumed to a variety of media for diverse purposes. From oral traditions, to books, to cinema and recently to virtual environments. References of these can be traced in Kautilya’s Arthashastra and plays like Mudrarakshas. Chankya had used these visual show men as espionage agents because their ability to penetrate to the very core of society. Buddhist and Jain monks used this method to preach. References of Yama Pata (Court of Yamaraj of Sufferings of Hell) can be traced to this period which was used to keep the society religious or ‘God fearing’. In Japan during Nara dynasty, there are also references of Yama Pata. In Bengal during Nawabi period most of the Patuas converted into Islam because then they get work to decorate “Atish Ghar” or evening merry making rooms. Now almost all Patuas having two names one Hindu and one Muslim. These Patuas having many talents in one- composers, singers, painters and performers. First they select a subject then they compose a song, divide it into several episode then visualize each episode as one panel (painting). Interestingly their visualization process is very similar to that of as a film maker or animator prepares a story board.

    • Md Intaj Ali says:

      Thank you very much for your insight in the concerned subject. I feel very glad to see your comment. Definitely your comment gave more insight to the subject. I have learnt a lot from your comment. Hope to get more response and insight from you sir. Thanks again.

  3. Sibaditya Ray says:

    Very well documented. Wishing to know about Jadu Pata of Santhals.
    Can you please inform about the origin of this traditional art form?

    • ravi kant dwivedi says:

      Jadu Patuas or Santhal Patuas- firstly the very term “Jadu Patua” is a corrupt term. there is no magic related to them or to their art. They also paints Hindu mythological subjects but they mainly cater to the Santhal tribe. Santhals call them “Jadau Guru” (respected priest) the term Jadau might have termed as Jadu by so called researchers like us. They generally carry titles (Sir names) Chitrakar or Patidar. In Santhal Pargana areas even Dhokra metal casters are called Jadu Patia. Racially, the Chitrakars of Bengal and these Chitrakars are came from the same stock.
      Actually these Chitrakars have an important role to play in Santhal religious life, i.e. the Ritual of CHAKSHUDAN. Chakshudan is very similar to Shraddha ceremony of Hindus, it is to end the mourning period after any death in the family. (I think it became very long and I am afraid not to bore anymore, details regarding Chakshudan ceremony will put later)

    • Md Intaj Ali says:

      Yes next time i will try to document Jadu pata painting. Sure i will do it. No i am out of Bengal.

  4. ravi kant dwivedi says:

    Sorry I forget to add few important aspects of Chitakars (Jadu Patuas), their painting style is entirely different from Chitrakars (Patuas) of Bengal and their colour pallet is limited because they entirely use natural colours. Apart from Hindu mythological subjects they mainly paints “Janam Binti” or Santhal Janam Katha pat (Original of Santhals) which is very important and interesting.

    • Md Intaj Ali says:

      I have more to say on the Jadu Pata painting. But before that i have to do a little bit field work. So sir i will come to the following topic after sometime. Thanks again for reply and comment. Hope to get your insight and kind help on this regard in near future also.

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