Magical Tales from India.
Driving home from work last night I decided to make a detour and have a quick coffee at The Godfrey Pilkington Art Gallery just off the East Lancs near St Helens, and what a delight it was. There was an amazing exhibition of story scrolls from India. The curator told me that this Bengali scroll tradition was an ancient one. The long, vertical, multi-panelled scrolls known as patas,(paintings), were used to tell Indian narratives like the Ramayana and also contemporary global events such as the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia.
Painted on individual sheets of paper, the panels are glued together onto cloth (usually old saris) for greater strength and flexibility. These pictures were breathtaking! Colours fantastic.
Each panel represents a particular sequence in the story and as the pata is unrolled for viewing, the accompanying couplet or story is recited. Before television and the internet the patua or storyteller would carry these scrolls from village to village, performing for a small fee. Today, I am told that these storytelling skills are less and less in demand. Look carefully at the photos and see if you can detect a story. I found the whole experience really interesting and with a cup of coffee thrown in, it was a real jewel in in the crown, a satisfying rest and definitely something to share.
Exhibition till Sunday 3rd June