Monday, April 13, 2009


"Chalchitra" or "Devichal" is the painted background of an Idol, especially used with Durga. Chalchitra is a metamorphosed form of halo found in the Indian sculptures of ancient period. Primarily these were used to give proportion to the structure.
Gradually narrating the associated myth of the figure gets its place on this halo which then took the form of a slab, known as "Prabhamandali" or halo of the idol. This tradition has been carried forward to the idol of Durga also.
According to some this tradition was to put up a resistance to the tide of Buddhism. So decoration to depict the glory of the Hindu gods and goddess in its background has become an important part of the worshipping. According to some this may also be a display of the general familial bonds that a Bengali shares.
Though generally Chalchitra or commonly called Chali is painted on perishable materials like, course canvas of "Patas" or paper a few varieties engraved on ivory, wood, stone or sculptured out of metals (Ashtadhatu) are also found.
Originally the artists of Chalchitra are potters but name of two other section are found to be involved in this drawing, surprisingly called "writing". First of them is "Grahabipra" (they are idol makers and might be Brahmanas by caste), the other is called the "Patuas" or "Sutradhar" (the painter of scroll patas, who are often its narrators). These people are often referred as artisans. It might be possible that they are part-timers.
While tracing their religion these artists or writers cannot be clubbed into a single section as they came from both Hindu and Muslim community. Mysteriously some are found to be followers of both the religions as they had to draw "Gaji" patas for the Muslim locality and Kalighat and other mythological patas for the Hindu locality. They are found to have changed names for serving their purpose.
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