jarano pat (Scroll Painting)

About this object

History of use

Scrolls are work of patuas (painter singers) of Chitrakar caste, living mainly in southern districts of West Bengal. Scroll painting such as this is called 'jarano pats', a series of vertically arranged rectangles which are successively unrolled during chanting and portray important religious or secular stories. Displayed at melas (fairs) or village squares by itinerant patuas who are rewarded with food, small change, and clothing. Paintings of Midnapur District generally use black construction lines, flat blue background, and deep intense colours. Expressive distortions give emphasis to main characters. Patuas were inspired by a long tradition in this medium dating to at least Buddhist times. Work often reflects the social environment of the times. They continued with this because of patronage received until recently. Now other entertainments and education (radio, cinema) have almost replaced this traditional genre.


This scroll tells a famous Hindu story. Danapati Sadagar, merchant, is jailed in a far-off country. His son, Srimanta, asks his mother, Khulana, and goddess, Durga, to go for his father. On Srimanta's sea voyage he sees an incarnation of Durga called 'Kamala Kamini'. The evil king, Salivahan, who has jailed Srimanta's father agrees to release the father on sight of this goddess. She hides herself, and saves the father, and Srimanta whom the king tries to behead. Prisoners are released and Srimanta marries Salivahan's daughter.

Physical description

A long thin painting rolled up and sewn onto a cotton cloth lashed to a piece of bamboo handle at each end. When rolled, the cloth acts as cover for the scroll. Eight rectangles of paper have been stitched together sequentially, and painted with scenes each arranged vertically and separated by a foliated border in light green, red, yellow, and black, which also appears on the sides of the scroll. Human, and god-like forms are depicted and painted yellow. Also scenes of plants, animals, and architectural forms. Background is painted blue. Figures are outlined in black. From top to bottom: A sitting woman who has many arms and is wearing red clothing surrounded by humans, animals, and other creatures with a man being attacked (?) by a lion (?) in front of her; two women caring for a baby in a hut (?) with a woman veiled in white and a man carrying object(s) in a balance-beam style outside; people standing in a line before a registrar or an accountant (?) in front of a large six-roomed building that has an arch; a woman wearing red clothing sitting on a red lotus (?) while holding a baby that has an elephant head with a man wearing blue clothing being rowed in a boat by another; a tall sitting man wearing red clothing with one man in front of him and two other behind; a tall sitting woman who has many arms, and is wearing red clothing with a man being attacked (?) by a lion (?) in front of her, and two men at either sides entreating (?) to her; ten people grouped together with their hands in a praying-like position; and a tall sitting woman who has many arms and is wearing red clothing with a man being attacked (?) by a lion (?) in front of her and more people at either sides entreating (?) to her.