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Bengali Art: The oldest form

 

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This is where we can use the pun art is many a splendored thing; Bengal, known all over the world for its impeccable creation of arts and crafts; it’s chiefly the woodwork, terracotta, pot (not vessel), paintings and designs on the textile that still rules supreme. Mainly due to the presence of a particular sect called potua- s, who derived their ideas from the then-prevalent Bengali lifestyle. Accounts of their works (the pots) are found from literary texts as old as old as from the seventh century AD, the age-old scrolls depicted sagas from even the religious texts what Bengalis refer as the Puranas. The significance of the pots, the scroll paintings, lay in entertaining the mass; the potua-s used to travel from place to place to get the audience base for narrating the stories. Often considered as the pre-cursor of modern day cinema or graphic novels, the scroll painting used to reveal itself panel by panel. The tradition also had some similarity with western classical music; the patua used to play the role of the conductor. P ainted on pieces of fabric, the scrolls mostly exhibited vegetable dyes and natural pigments, with starch as the binding material. The scrolls varied between four feet and fifty feet, though fifteen feet was the average length that has been noticed.  

The appearance of the scrolls were as follows: divided into vertical panels, each panel used to narrate an episode of the main story, painted in bright colors, with red, yellow, green, and blue predominating on a red background. The paintings also exhibit the highest forms of secularism; with the patuas coming from both the Hindu and the Muslim sects, the customs often commingled.  

 

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Accounts are also there that prove the pats being used as icons or amulets; the specific class of Jadu or magical pots used by the Santal tribe depict the comeback of dead during times of crisis. However, the chief subject remained the epics and other mythological and folk tales, of which, the snake-goddess, Manasa and the legend of Radha and Krishna were the most popular ones. In the contemporary society, the subjects are as varied as AIDS, which some look at as the ill effects of overall urbanization that jeopardized too many-a-great, traditional art forms. It is, however, pointless to say so, since contemporary society always reflected through this much-treasured Bengali art form (the Babu Culture of Bengal also found a new face through it) and being truly a people’s art, it would be unjust to expect it to stay the same in the flowing stream of the changing human psychology.   

 

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