Updated: Jul 15, 2022
India carries a rich and diverse cultural heritage. This can be seen in various art forms, be it paintings, literature, dance, or music.
Amongst these, one of the oldest and yet lesser-known art forms that carry a rich legacy are the Paitkar paintings of Jharkhand.
Paitkar paintings are a unique manifestation of the state's folk art and are one of the country's oldest schools of painting.
They are commonly referred to as the scroll paintings of the east, as they draw inspiration from Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.
The small village of Amadubi, located in the eastern portion of Jharkhand, is known as the Paitkar village.
This village's traditional painting is known as Paitkar, and it has been practiced since ancient times.
Jharkhand's tribal artists have cultivated the art of scroll painting, which has long been employed in narrative performances and socio-religious rituals.
They tell the stories of gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology, such as Shiva or Durga, or local deities, such as the serpent deity Manasa.
The Santhal tribe believes that the JaduPatua or Paitkar painting of Jharkhand to have the ability to transport the wandering spirits of the deceased to heaven and so assist in liberating them from all of their misery.
The artworks that are made all have a similar subject: what happens to human life after death.
This scroll artwork also depicts daily life in Bengal and Jharkhand.
The Paitkar paintings of Jharkhand may be traced back to the ethnicity and customs connected with West Bengal, although the art is presently exclusively performed in Amadubi village.
Nature provides the medium for the Paitkar painters to paint their scrolls in water-based colors.
The Paitkar painters create their paintings on palm leaves, and the brushes are created from squirrel or goat hair.
Chitrakars' (artists') color palette is limited to fewer shades.
They exclusively gather primary colors from nature, such as red, yellow, and blue. The majority of the painted space is occupied by human beings.
These characters appear in profile and occasionally in semi-profile.
Paitkar painters have not used commercial colors in their paintings as of yet.
To prepare color, the artist combines certain leaves, colored stone, and soil that are found by the river.
However, finding them is time-consuming.
To prepare the color, first, leaves and fruits are crushed into a paste, and then the liquid component of the paste is mixed with water in a specific proportion.
The liquid is then boiled, and the mixture is filtered.
The artist then boils the liquid again to thicken it.
When the mixture is finished, the dust is removed with a sieve, and it is boiled to thicken.
Paitkar artisans combine natural gum with the colors to make them permanent and to add extra glazes.
This natural gum is made from bel fruit and neem tree resin.
The dark color is caused by the smoke from a kerosene lamp.
Paitkar artists preserve the clinker or carbon leftover from the black smoke from kerosene lamps and then combine it with natural gum and water.
The tribals of Jharkhand have not been able to disseminate the name of their masterpieces far and wide.
Jharkhand's Paitkar paintings may suffer a major setback, and in the near future, and might as well be referred to as a painting from the past.
Today, Amadubi has 40-45 homes, with just a handful practicing Paitkar artists, despite the fact that the majority of the locals are aware of the art.
Only 3 to 4 artists have been recognized who still practice scroll painting.
Most Amadubi villages abandoned Paitkar practice because it was no longer economically feasible.
They have worked in a variety of professions including carpentry, murti-making, tailoring, agricultural labor, mending work, and so forth.
However, with some suitable form of government assistance, this age-old Indian tradition could well be preserved.
The need of the hour is to bring Paitkar art into the forefront from isolated areas and to create methods for the citizens of this country to have access to these artworks.
Author: Akash Rupam Ekka Editor: Rachita Biswas