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The gift of storytelling is intrinsic to West Bengal culture for many centuries and has manifested itself in various forms of art. Kalighat paintings are one of them. Created by the Patuas, or Chitrakars (one of the many ethnic groups found in the Midnapore region that have been Islamizing through the ages), the roots of Kaligath paintings date back to the city of Calcutta and to a temple built there in 1809 in honor of the Hindu goddess, Kali. At that time, Calcutta was the prosperous capital of the British Raj and the Kalighat temple flourished with it, becoming an important trading center in the city. Among the many pilgrims coming to the temple to worship Kali were the Patuas (then itinerant artists) who, attracted by the prospect of making fortune, left the rural areas around the city to settle in the bazaars near Kalighat. In order to survive, the Patuas then deviated from the themes of their well-known patts (scrolls with painted images) from the traditional scope and started other forms of painting where satirical discourse became the central focus. Originally, the paintings were made on a single sheet of paper handmade and with paints specially prepared for it. The paintings covered a wide variety of themes ranging from the Hindu pantheon to religious and social events in the ordinary life of Calcutta in the early 19th century. Accessible, and representing only one or two figures of obese shapes (which could be painted quickly), Kalighat paintings were made in a simple way and on a smooth background, to respond quickly to its immense demand. The paintings became so popular that they produced their own genre of art and became a School of Painting, which has established its place in the History of Art in India. Its visual linguistics impressed and inspired many modern Bengal artists, such as Jamini Roy (1887 - 1972). Curiously modern, Kalighat paintings continue their course at the hands of the Patuas and today are still painted in their original forms. The rich tradition of these paintings is proudly passed on from generation to generation, claiming the legacy of Calcutta's glorious past.

In the photo, the artista Mamoni Chitrakar, Naya Village , West Bengal.