Godh Bharai : Midnapore patachitra painting by Bapi Chitrakar

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Artist :          Bapi Chitrakar
Title :            Godh Bharai
Medium :     Natural colours on paper & cloth
Size :            22” x 28”
Year :            2020

About a decade ago, ‘potua’ art was written off as a dying folk art form, as “chitrakars” began drifting away from their traditional occupation in search of a livelihood. Thanks to the timely intervention of various agencies, it has undergone a revival and today the ‘patachitra’ has reached national and international forums.
“Patta” literally means “cloth” and “chitra” means “picture” in Sanskrit. The materials used are all indigenous and inexpensive, coming from vegetable, earth, and mineral sources. Conch shells, crushed, boiled and filtered, are used for white, black comes from lamp soot, red from ‘hingulal’ stone, green comes from plants and blue from indigo. These extracts are then cooked with the gum from the ‘kaintha’ (elephant apple) fruit tree and applied. The Midnapore ”potuas” usually draw and paint their stories on a long piece of jute or handmade paper, the themes being epic and Puranic anecdotes, gods and goddesses, folktales and myths, ceremonies and incidents of daily life - farming, dancing, wedding and shaad ceremonies, and different species of Indian fauna.

The story-telling tradition has found a multitude of vernacular expressions in Indian life. Patachitra scroll-painting is a storytelling tradition of Midnapore, West Bengal. In this unique art form, oral tradition meets the visual structure of a narrative. The bard presents the story with pictures and song, both of which are created effortlessly and seamlessly.
‘Patuas’ and ‘Chitrakars’ have been referred to in literary works dating back to more than 2500 years. The style of painting bears a strong link to the paintings of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Originally an art form of the Santhal community, today there are clusters of houses with entire families devoted to this art form. 
This piece by master patua Bapi, is a celebration of a young pregnant woman. A "godh bharai" ceremony focuses on food, gifts and blessings from family and close friends for the expecting mother and her unborn baby.
Both the concept and the painting exude positive vibes!