The Living Art of Naya Singer Painters


Pat (Bangla; Sanskrit patta) means cloth and patachitra refers to traditional, cloth-based scrollpainting characterized by mythological and social narratives found in the eastern Indian states of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Patuas, who like to be called patchitrakars now, were itinerant minstrels who would wander around villages unrolling their scrolls and singing along and would be given rice, vegetables, cloth, or even shelter, as alms. This project followed the itineraries of patua families who settled down in Naya in West Midnapore district, located 125 kms away from Kolkata to form a village of singer painters. After struggling with poverty, social stigmatization and threat to pat art by new media, these mixed faith, Muslim Hindu performers successfully adapted their traditional art to modern times, won new urban patrons, earned  financial stability and international acclaim. The website provides a digital archive of Naya pat through translated transcriptions of Bangla interviews conducted with twenty male and female Patuas who trace the origins, nature, transformation and future of the pat heritage and the challenges faced by the Patua community.