The heritage of Bengal will be less sung off if only spoken about the poetry and music, the traditional art form of Potto Chitro finds a new beginning with the theme of Bhawanipur 75 Palli pujo. Read the story to know more.
“Art is never finished, only abandoned”
Art has evolved over time, from Altamira Cave Paintings to Mike Winklemann’s digital art. This journey of art has seen various stages and forms. History shows us how one form inspired another and in the process developed as a new creation. But what remains a matter of sadness is the fact that many art forms have died down in the process.
One such traditional art form is ‘Pattachitra’ which dates back to 5 BC. From ancient times, Potto artisans and artists used to narrate many unknown, unheard morale of epics, fables from puranas and historical tales and fantasies in various fairs, cultural events, religious gatherings through their Pattachitras. This art was not only used in various religious rituals but also enhanced the beauty of the houses of Bengal.
With due course of time, the traces of this gorgeous art of Patta Shilpa have gradually faded from Bengal. Later, these Pot artists used to explore and portray around Kalighat area of Kolkata, lastly nesting in a corner of this city. Today this art is almost extinct in Kolkata. Although people in some villages, like Pingla, Nayagram of Medinipur district are the last bearers and carriers of this legacy who survive in scattered teams.
In addition, another tribal community of Bankura is still trying to make a living from this Pot Shilpa. In spite of this, the rich heritage of Patta Shilpa, the livelihood of Patta artists are getting lost in the circle of darkness. Despite the acceptance of the Pot Shilpa in rural life, it is faintly in demand and having recessions in urban communities.
Talking of Patta artist one can recall the great Lalan who in spite of being a devotee of Allah, was committed to memorize the mythological scriptures of Hindu deities. As he spreads his hand to pray to Allah likewise he does not hesitate to fold hands and bowing down his head at Hindu deities during his act of portraying his own created Potchitras. Limitless to earthen pottery, he endeavors to highlight pottery by stepping along the time with new things. He creates Potto-art out of a variety of discarded items.
To save this Pot heritage from extinction, Lalan chooses the path of new creations and innovations. He decides to tour through villages and cities with his Pottoshilpa and explain to people the story of his creation. Hopefully, the Potto shilpa will win the hearts of people with its new content and will be appreciated and accepted with its comeback to Bengal’s life once again.
But that is all a part of history. This year inspired from this fantastic art form, Bhowanipur 75 polli pujo committee has come up with a unique theme of ‘Aitirjho Beche Thakuk’- ‘Let the heritage Live on’ covering this brilliant traditional art form. This endeavor is to uplift the morale of the rich culture of West Bengal for this year’s Durga Puja. Bengal’s Potto Shilpa or Potto Art is one of the exceptions all over the contemporary world, being globally acknowledged. Renowned artist Sri Prashant Pal uses the same art in this 58th Year old pujo.
Speaking to the media, Sri. Sayan Deb Chatterjee, Convener of Bhowanipur 75 Palli said, “It’s a great honour that UNESCO has recognized Durga Puja of Bengal as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. So, we believe this extinct art form of Pot Shilpa will regain its lost glory and fame through our puja presentation this year. People associated with Pot Shilpa belonging from Pingla and Nayagram villages of Midnapore district will perform, display, exhibit and sell their artworks in organized stalls in the vicinity of the puja. The facilities and all expenses related to transportation, food and lodging will be entirely at our cost, similar to the way we did last year for the Chau and Jhumur artists who performed live and the Mask artists from Purulia district who exhibited and sold their artworks, incurring their own profits. We are inspired by our Honble CM Smt Mamta Banerjee and will do our bit to help at least some of them.”
May the richness of Bengal’s tradition live on forever.