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                                               Story telling


            Oral tradition of conveying myths and stories is an important aspect of Indian art. The bardic tradition is an ancient one. The Vedic bards were singing priests who composed hymns. Later on Vedic bards were attached to the courts and were known as katha-vachakas or sutas. The oral tradition was not confined to the Vedic priests only. The non Vedic singing priests like yogi and fakirs were also mentioned in Atharvaveda. The yogi  who is alone, mediates and seeks god and supposed to be a symbol of awakened man.

            From the very earliest times, the bardic tradition was closely associated with the worship of the goddess. In the various shakti pithas where the goddess was enshrined, the poet priests chanted the chandipatha or saptasati, the verse in the praise of goddess and recounted her splendid victories over demons Mahisha,Chanda, Munda and Raktavira.

            The Charana bard community of Banaras are tradition singers and story-tellers. The Malas of south India were the story-tellers and the priests, at the worship of Angalamma. In south bards were attached to the shrine of the female gram devata. The legend relatings to the goddess remain alive only in the memories of these bard priests. The tribal kings of middle India also had ancient bardic tradition. The singers of Kerala who recited the stories of Epics and Puranas were known as Koothars and claim themselves decent from the sutas who had  an unbroken tradition of thausands of years. (K Bharata Iyer, Kuttiyatam, Sanskrit drama of Kerala, The times of India Annual,1962,pp19-26.)

Scroll paintings are the work of professional chitrakaras. They were exhibited in ancient times , for they are mentioned by Patangali in the middle of the second century BC. (A Coomarswamy, Picture Showmen in Indian Historical Quaterly V 1929, 182-184). The practice of painting scrolls have mainly survived in west Bengal and in Santhal parganas in Bihar. The painters in Bengal belong to the painter’s caste - chitrakaras. ( SK Ray in The Artist’s castes of West Bengal and Their Crafts (Cencus of India West Bengal 1951, pp. 193-349). Through chitrakara’s are specialized painters, some of them work in different media. The burnt sienna and indigo blue tonality of scroll from Manbhumi Purulia, West Bengal holds emotions packed in dense, contiguous compositions floating in broad curvilinear rhythms.

  At village level a group  of mendicant story tellers and scroll painters have kept alive a type of art which is called Pata Chitra. Its enactment is both educative as well as entertaining and has been responsible for the interest that has been kept alive among different communities who are otherwise unable to read and write. It is a living and practising art.