About the Book:
The images presented in this book take us into the heart of the rich folk tradition of India. Of that heritage, the display of paintings accompanied by comments recited or sung has been a part since very early times, as attested by references and legends in Sanskrit sources, including the Harsacarita, a 7th-century work by Banabhatta. Known as patacitras or patas in short, these illustrated narratives on rectangular fabric or paper as well as on scrolls are a type of performed art that reaches out to audiences, mostly rural, conveying the artists’ responses to legends and social themes of common knowledge across a wide range of audiences from varied social and cultural bases. A particularly powerful class of such paintings that come from the Bengali- speaking region of eastern India comprise the depiction of events from the Ramayana in the form of scrolls that are unrolled as the painter displays and explicates them.
The vividly colourful images presented in this book occupy a special niche in the history of Indian art, remarkable because they are not only visual objects but narrative expositions of a text that has been part of the lives of vast numbers of the Indian people and often their source of moral guidance. Especially remarkable is that these patas by Bengali folk painters diverge so often from the magisterial Ramayanas of adikavi (“First Poet”) Valmlki, leaving out important parts of it and importing into the Rama saga episodes from local narrative caches. Following conventions of both art and storytelling as they do, these portrayals constitute what is now recognised as the tradition of counter- Ramayanas that embodies alternative alignments of ethical judgment.
About the Author:
Mandakranta Bose is Emeritus Professor and Director of the Centre for India and South Asia Research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. A Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and also of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr Bose holds a BA and MA in Sanskrit from Calcutta University, a second MA in Comparative Literature from the University of British Columbia, and the MLitt and DPhil degrees in Oriental Studies from Oxford. Her research over the past fifty plus years covers four main areas: Sanskrit treatises on the performing arts, the Ramayana, Hindu dharmasastras and religious culture, and gender representation in the arts and literatures of India.