Sunday, March 21, 2010
Gazi Pats Ballad:
Jamdud kaludt at
The right and left
The friend of the Jam raja (king)
Sits in the midst
Gazi says: Chase them away
With Gazi's name.
Gazir Pat a form of scroll painting; an important genre of folk art, practised by patuyas (painters) in rural areas and depicting various incidents in the life of Gazi Pir.
Those who took part in the performance were members of the bedey(snake charmers) community and Muslim by faith. Besides Gazir pat, there were other scrolls depicting well-known stories such as Manasa Pat (based on the goddess manasa), Ramayana Pat (based on ramachandra), Krishna Pat (based on Lord krishna) etc. The asutosh museum of indian art (Kolkata, India), Gurusaday Dutt Museum (Kolkata, India) and the Museum
Gazir pat is usually 4'8" long and 1'10" wide and made of thick cotton fabric. The entire scroll is divided into 25 panels. Of these, the central panel is about12" high and 20.25" wide. There are four rows of panels above and three rows below the central panel. The bottom row contains three panels, each of which is5.25" high and 6.25" wide. The central panel depicts Gazi Pir seated on a tiger, flanked by Manik Pir and Kalu. The central panel of the second row shows Pir Gazi's son, Fakir, playing a nakara. The central panel of the third row shows Gazi's sister, Laksmi, with her carrier owl. The right panel of the second row shows the goddess Ganga riding a crocodile. In the bottom row, Yamadut and Kaladut, the messengers of Yama, are shown in the left and right panels. The central panel shows Yama's mother punishing the transgressor by cooking his head in a pot. As Gazi Pir is believed to have the power to control animals, a Gazir pat also depicts a number of tigers.
Red and blue are the two pigments mainly used. There are slight variations of colour, with crimson and pink from red, and grey and sky-blue from blue. Every figure is flat and two-dimensional. In order to bring in variety, various abstract designs (such as diagonal, vertical and horizontal lines, and small circles) are often used. The figures lack grace and softness. Some of the forms (such as trees, the Gazi's mace, the tasbih, (the Muslim rosary), birds, deer, hookahs etc, are extremely stylised. The figures of Gazi, Kalu, Manik Pir, Yama's messengers, etc appear rigid and lifeless. There is no attempt at realism. The traditional method of painting Gazir pat begins with the preparation of size from tamarind seeds and wood-apple. The tamarind seeds are first roasted and left to soak overnight in water. In the morning the seeds are peeled, and the white kernels are ground and boiled with water into a paste. The paste is then sieved through a gamchha (indigenous towel). The tamarind size thus obtained is then mixed with fine brick powder. In order to prepare wood-apple size, a few green wood-apples are cut up and left to soak overnight in water. The resultant liquid is strained in the morning, and the size is ready to use.
A Gazir pat is generally painted on coarse cotton cloth. The piece on which the painting is to be executed is spread on a mat in the sun. A single coat of the mixture of tamarind size and brick powder is then applied on the side to be painted, either by hand or with a brush made of jute fibre. After it has dried, two coats of size are applied on the other side of the cloth, which is then left to dry. On the side to be painted, another coat of a mixture of tamarind size and chalk powder is applied. When the cloth is dry, it is divided into panels with the help of a mixture prepared with wood-apple size and chalk powder. When the prepared cloth is dry, the patuya starts painting the figures.
The pigments were originally obtained from various natural sources: black was obtained by holding an earthen plate over a burning torch, white from conch shells, red from sindur (vermilion powder), yellow from turmeric, dull yellow from gopimati (a type of yellowish clay), blue from indigo. The patuya would make the brush himself with sheep or goat hair. Some of these techniques are still used today. However, the patuya usually buys paints and brushes from the market.
The tradition of Gazir pat can be traced back to the 7th century, if not earlier. The panels on Yama's messengers and his mother appear to be linked to the ancient Yama-pat (performance with scroll painting of Yama). It is also possible that the scroll paintings of Bangladesh are linked to the traditional pictorial art of continental India of the pre-Buddhist and pre-Ajanta epochs, and of Tibet, Nepal, China and Japan of later times.
The scroll paintings of Gazir pat (pat meaning cloth), present the valour of legendary figure Gazi Pir, who was respected and worshiped as a warrior-saint, writes Robab Rosan Although worshipping the images of Gazir Pir is not mentioned in history, according to some scholars, the Muslim saint Gazi, might have appeared around the 15th century and seemed to be related to the rise of Sufism in Bengal. Islam Gazi, a Muslim general, served Sultan Barbak (1459-74) in Delhi and conquered Orissa and Kamrup (now Assam). Towards the end of the 16th century, Shaikh Faizullah praised the valour and spiritual qualities of this general in his verse Gazi Bijoy, the victory of Gazi.
There are some influences of Khijir Pir or Khawaj Khijir, a Muslim holly man considered as the protector of water, found in the story of Gazi Pir. To the worshipers of Gazi, this warrior-saint protected his devotees from attacks of wild animals and demons in the forests. Particularly, in the regions of the Sundarban, the story and images of Gazi Pir had earned much popularity among the forest dwellers, like woodcutters, beekeepers and others. These communities still believe in the supernatural powers of the Pir and utter his name when they venture in to the forest.
In the plains, Gazi is worshiped as the protector against demons and harmful deities and saves them from all sorts of dangers. The villagers usually call the gayens or folksingers, who know the story of Gazi Pir to sing the saint’s praise. The travelling storytellers, mostly belonging to the bede (gypsy) community, use a Gazir pat and pointing at the images on the pat, they narrate the power and prowess of the Pir in their singing verses. The devotees also hang the scroll paintings of Gazi in their houses to protect them from the influences of evil power.
The singers’ preaching created a demand for the pats among the devotees, irrespective of caste, creed and community and the pats had gained a huge popularity in the rural areas across the country, in the early years. Traditionally, the singers were Muslims while the patuas belonged to the Hindu religion. Sadly, at present, this combined form of art, paintings on pats and rendering of Gazir praise, has lost its purpose as a savoir from evil.
Gazir pat has specific images painted on a single canvas which have remained unchanged through the centuries. These images have been honoured as sacred symbols of good omen. There are twenty seven panels in a traditional Gazir pat, which measures 60 inches X 22 inches. The ankaiya (painter) follows the traditional styles in depicting the images. In the twenty-seven panels, the ankiya draws the images of a shimul tree; a cow; drum to depict triumph of Kalu Gazi; sawdagar or merchant; a deer being slaughtered; Asha or hope, the symbol of Gazi; Kahelia; Andura and Khandura; tiger; umbrella in the hand of Gazi’s disciple; Suk and Sari birds sitting on the umbrella; Lakhmi; charka, the spinning wheel; two witches; goala or milkman; mother of the goala; a cow and a tiger; an old woman beautifying herself; Baksila; Ganga; Jamdut; Kaldut; mother of Jam raja; and in the centre Gazi riding on a tiger. The singer or singers narrate sometimes the night long story, pointing at the characters, which appear in the twenty seven panels of the pat.
Red and blue are the two pigments mainly used in the pats. There are slight variations of colour, with crimson and pink from red, and grey and sky-blue from blue. Every figure is flat and two-dimensional. In order to bring in variety, various abstract designs (such as diagonal, vertical and horizontal lines and small circles) are often used. Trees, Gazi’s mace, the tasbih or prayer beads, birds, deer, hookahs etc, are extremely stylised. The figures of Gazi, his disciples Kalu and Manik Pir, Jama’s (the Hindu god of death) messengers, etc appear rigid and lifeless. Though there is no attempt at realism in the images of Gazir pats, the sort of painting has a time value as primitive work.
Among the adi patchitras or ancient paintings besides the Gazir pat, we also come across in history the Mahabharata pat, Ramayana pat, Muharram pat, Jam pat, Chaitanya pat, Manasa pat, Laxmi pat and others. Among the modern pats, one can see saheb pats, cinema pats and grameen pats.