What is Paitkar Art

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What is Paitkar Art? India is a land of traditions and culture. It is known for its remarkable art forms and it is difficult to keep the track of all of the. In this article, I will explain a rather less popular art form known as the Paitkar painting. This art originated in the village of Amadubi in Jharkhand.

This village is also famous as the village of Paitkar. The first artist to make Paitkar art was King Dhabaldeva. The name of this art form is derived from the local word ‘Patekar’. This art is famous for being used for storytelling which is a social and religious practice in the region. The contents of this painting are Hindu gods, mythological creatures, legends, and real-life portrayals.

Mostly, this painting is done by men while women help the males do the painting. But nowadays, women also have expertise in making this incredible art form. This is a vertical scroll painting type and a source of exhibiting the ancient culture of India to the tourists.

Paitkar Art image 1

History of Paitkar Art

Like other art forms of India, Paitkar art also has a very ancient history, dating back to the ancient cultures of various West Bengal states.

It is stated that in the reign of the ruler of Dhalbhumgarh,  King Ramachandra Dhal, a group of around 22 Paitkar artists visited him. These artists were brought before the ruler for their remarkable skills in painting and singing. They represented their artistry to the King and elaborated on how they traveled across villages and perform in exchange for stuff.

The King got inspired by their art and asked them to adorn his Queen’s bedroom with their out-of-the-world painting skills. They did a marvelous job. The KIng decided to reward these artists and granted them a large plot gland and asked them to perform at the royal court for the rest of their lives in exchange. Since then, these painters settled in Dhalbumgharh’s village of Amadubi.

In the initial period, these artists were called ‘’Gayen’’, but gradually they shifted to the word ‘‘Chitrakar’’ as their title. Singers are called Gayen and painters are called Chitrakar( ‘Chitr’ meaning picture and ‘kar’ meaning maker). These terms are often used interchangeably.

Themes of Piatkar Paintings

The most prominent themes of Piatkar Paintings are described below:

Religious themes

These themes are based on Hindu epics for example Mahabharta, and Ramayana. They also involve Hindu sacred texts such as Durga pada, Mansa Mangal, Nouka Vilash, etc.

Themes from Santhal mythology like Pilsuhara and Pilsurburhi are also painted. These paintings tell the miraculous stories performed by the gods and goddesses. One of the most common themes is the depiction of the afterlife.

Social themes

Tribal festivals and fairs for example Karam puja, Dansai, Baha, etc are depicted in this painting.  This painting also depicts flora and fauna.

The depiction of contemporary issues in these paintings is a Govt. sponsored practice.

Features of Paitkar art

  • Paitkar art are a type of vertical scroll paintings.
  • No specific rules are followed in making these paintings. Bold lines are drawn to make this painting.
  • This form of art is derived from Oandulipi. This was used in earlier times by the kings to send messages.
  • These paintings hold a central position in Santhal tradition because these tribes do not have any written history. They only possess folklores dating back to the history of mankind.
  • The depiction of the afterlife is the most common theme.
  • The colors used for this painting are natural water-based colors. The artists use only primary colors i.e red, yellow, and blue, and the rest of them are made by mixing these colors together.
  • The space is unevenly divided in the Paitkar painting. Faces of human character are large with elongated eyes, and they cover most of the space. Having elongated eyes is a distinct feature of Indian Paintings.

Process of making this art

Paitkar artists have not yet used commercial colors in their paintings. To create the color, the artist uses some leaves, colored stones, and clay. By the river, you can find mud and colored stones.

However, finding them takes time. To make the color, the first make paste of the leaves and fruits. Then, take the liquid part of the paste and add some water in a particular ratio. Then boil the liquid and strain it. The artist then boils the liquid again to thicken it.

Paitkar Art image 2

Color stones, dirt, vegetables, and leaves are collected from their environment. On the surface of a flat rock, they crush it with water. When the mixture is ready, the dirt is removed from the sieve and boiled to thicken.

Paitkar artisans combine organic gum with dyes to make them more permanent and add extra shine. It is made from organic glue vine (wood apple) fruit and latex of neem tree. The white color is derived from lime powder. The black color is made from soot emitted from kerosene lamps. Paitkar artists save clinker or carbon from the black smoke from kerosene lamps and then mix it with organic gum and water.


Briefly talking, Paitkar arts are a sort of storytelling in the form of singing. The singing is done in the Bengali language. It is Jharkhand’s traditional art that is slowly fading away because of the lack of funding and exploration. Govt. is now making efforts to commercialize this art form.

For more posts like this visit Tribal Handcrafts blog.


What is a scroll painting?

Scroll paintings are primarily made in East Asia, made on scrolls. There are primary two types of scroll painting, handscroll painting made in a landscape format, and hanging scroll made in vertical format. Paitkar painting is a type of vertical scroll painting.

Which city is famous for Paitkar paintings?

These paintings are widely practiced in the Amadubi village of the Dhalbhumgarh region in Jharkhand.

what is the purpose of paitkar Painting?

These paintings depict themes from Hindu Epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana etc. The main purpose of these paintings is to narrate miraculous stories of the gods and goddesses like Krishna and Durga etc.

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