Jadu Patuas

A form of painting unique to the Santhal region of India, the Jadupatuas are painted on scrolls depicting themes from the life of lord Krishna, the story of creation as narrated in the Santhal tradition, their dance and music and sometimes fearful images of death and life after death. Earlier they used to be painted on cloth but later on the scrolls were prepared using waste paper which were glued together and later sewn on old cloth to prevent the paper from getting damaged. The two ends of the cloth are sewn around bamboo sticks so that the scroll could be rolled and carried easily. A string is then attached to secure the rolled up scroll. These painting use natural colors like soot, vermillion and mud from the riverbed, while the brushes are made of goat’s hair or a quill of a porcupine.

A jadupatua is a painter, a story teller and a magician all rolled into one. He can weave any number of stories using the paintings he carries and would adapt the story gauging the needs of the audience, His ingenuity lies in creating such impromptu stories. He would also visit houses where a death had occurred and show paintings of people without pupils in their eyes. He would then narrate the travails of the dead person saying he is wandering without sight and extract a few things from the inmates promising to release the dead man from his misery.

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