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  Kalighat Pat
 
 
Kalighat Pat
The Kalighat pats were not just the product of a particular era, they constituted the mirror of the times. The influence of the Kalighat pats has been quite considerable on modern Bengali Art.
Kalighat Pats__________________________________________

Since 1820 Kalighat pats existed. Much later came colourful lithography and naturally coloured wood works which were inspired by the Kalighat Pat. These pats, wood craft and the lithographs depicted the social life during those days.

 
 

The satiric representation of Bengal's social set up on the pats were a visual treatment.

 
 
It was popular among the common folks but not regarded as good by the elites. There was a class of artists seeking their fortunes in Calcutta- the Patuas, patidars or chitrakars from rural Bengal, Midnapur.They chose to settle around the Kali temple on the banks of the Adi Ganga rather than run after the favours of the foreign Nawabs in Calcutta. Inspite of their best efforts to stay away from the Europeans, the Kalighat artists could not entirely steer clear of the winds of the times. The rural pats underwent a change under the impact of the urban environment and the tensions of a new era slowly dawning. These handiworks of the patuas nurtured in the environment of the city, has signs of the western influence. 
 
 
Western influence____________________________ 
As William Archer stated
-the bengali patua used the water colours then easily available in the city.
-They did not paint in the background, to save time and maybe to let the picture come out from the canvas.
The kalighat pats were generally executed on paper cut to the size of 7 inches by 11 inches. This was the size the general buyers found most convenient and the artists needed as many buyers as they could. They used shading in the manner to emphasis the volume of the picture.
 
 


The themes of Kalighat Pats___________________

 

Many beautiful and intricately designed pats are displayed in the European museums. Some Kalighat Pats depict housewives protecting themselves with broom sticks, some are seen playing behala, bina and tabla, some are seen dressing themselves up. Religious and mythological themes predominated. There were some pictures of birds and beasts. There were some historical figures like Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi, Shyamakanta fighting with a tiger, a Bengali woman flying up in the sky in a baloon, the Elokeshi- Mohanta affair or the great Tarakeshwar scandal. The babus and the

 

 
bibis,the ladies of the town, the dancing girls, the loving couples. The Kalighat pats were not just the product of a particular era, they constituted the mirror of the times. The Kalighat Pats would immediately bring to the mind a host of similar images from Hutom Pyanchar Naksha, Naba Babu Bilas Naba Bibi Bilas, Apnar Mukh Apuni Dekho etc.
 
Popular demand of Pats______________________
Patuas designed not only to educate the masses but also to earn their living. The common people were happy with the Kalighat Pats. A coloured pat cost one anna or one-sixteenth of a rupee in those days. The Kalighat paintings soon reached a level of popularity that put extra pressure on the artists who found it difficult to cope with the demand. To raise their productivity they took to lithography. In lithography the outline of the
 
 

painting is printed in a faint impression and is then coloured. The influence of the Kalighat pats has been quite considerable on modern Bengali Art.

 
 
Pat Making_________________________________
Pat making is still prevalent though there is a considerable decline in its productivity. Pat making was generally a team work. The head of the Patuas started with a pat and did the detailing. It was then completed by his helpers. Vegetable colours and water colours were used.  One made of paper and another made of clay. The clay pats were specially of Gods and Goddesses or men and women. These clay pats were then burnt. They were then painted white with Ghusum soil. Ghusum soil is  the soil found in the ponds. Ghusum soil mixed with the gum of marmelos were applied on the
 
 
patand then boiled tamarind seeds were used to varnish the clay pats for a further shine. The paper pats were based on ancient scriptures. According to the length of the stories the pats were shaped. Paper pats are made of Tulot paper (cotton pulp). These pats can be seen in many museums. The present day pats are made on art paper and vegetable colours are used to colour it. After the painting, thin strips of cloth are pasted behind these art papers. Brushes are made of goat's hair.
 
 
Vegetable Colours__________________________
Yellow colour- Extracted from turmeric.
Red- Catechu (Extract from an Indian plant) and beetle leaf
Green- Water cress (Hilincha)
Purple-Pui, a creeper used as a pot herb -the fruit or seed is crushed to get the colour.
White- Ghusum (pond) soil.
Blue- Nilmoni fruit
Brown- Morum soil
Saffron- Fire brick
Black- Burnt coconut shell soot.

Its present state_______________________________________

The handicraft which was once so popular among the mass had lost its glory and was confined to museums. The artists of Kalighat returned to Midnapur from where they availed.
But the lost glory of Bengal is seen evolving again in the land of Midnapur where artists and their works are in great demand.
 
 

Most of their works are exported in many countries.


 
     


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