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.

Narrative

Scroll describes battle between goddess Manasa and merchant Chand Sadagar who would not give her worship. The sub plot, which is most important, describes devotion of Behula, Chand's daughter-in-law, to husband, Lokindar. She tries to regain his life after he has been killed by Manasa's snakes.

Iconographic meaning

Example of sati, the devotion of a wife for her husband.

Physical description

Five rectangular pieces of pulp paper stitched together to form a long rectangular sequentially stitched scroll. Painted with human and animal forms outlined in black paint and painted in vivid colours of blue, green, and red. Background is unpainted white. There is a dark maroon-red ribbon along the bottom. From top to bottom: A tall woman wearing red clothing sitting cross-legged surrounded by blue scarves (?) with a standing man wearing blue clothing to her right and a standing woman wearing green clothing and holding a fan, to her left; five standing women wearing blue, red, and green clothing with five men orientated sideways wearing blue and green lower garments with their right hands across their chests; a man sitting on a red chair wearing a green lower garment and a blue scarf with three women in front of him wearing blue, red, and green clothing; two men carrying two sitting women in a carrying box between them; a woman tending (?) to a man lying down wearing a blue lower garment; a man wearing a blue lower garment, and a red scarf with a woman wearing red clothing; a woman tending (?) to a man lying down wearing a green lower garment; four standing men wearing green and blue lower garments; a woman tending (?) to a man lying down wearing a blue lower garment; a woman tending (?) to a man lying down wearing a blue lower garment; a man fishing; two blue howling dogs; and a group of figures with blue snakes. A piece of dark red cotton is attached to the bottom edge.