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‘Deoal Chitro’ – Wall art of Purulia

The tribal folk art of Purulia that has stood the test of time

6 February, 2021


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They say ‘a picture tells a thousand words’. Since the pre-historic era, long before mankind found a way of expression through scripts, wall paintings were the only medium of expressing thoughts and ideas. In this context, the tribal wall art of the ‘Santhal’ community dwelling in the Birbhum, Mednipur, Bardhman and Purulia districts of West Bengal, part of the chotanagpur plateau, has been an example of this amazing tradition. With time, this art form has undergone impressive transformation according to the lifestyle, economic condition and geography of the region. The main creators of these paintings are the tribal women, who through their paintings express numerous ideas ranging from womanhood to harvesting or social life, implying a strong bonding with Mother Nature. Natural pigments and twigs from the local ‘Sal’ trees are only used to decorate the hut walls. These frescos or murals on clay walls are also presented as homage to their deities and are a treasure trove of traditional wisdom, knowledge and folklore. This ‘Santhali’ artform has a striking resemblance with the famous ‘Bhimbaitkha’ cave paintings of Madhya Pradesh. Sadly, off late, with the passage of time, with rapid modernization or economic constraints, this beautiful form is fast losing its originality.

Pinki Sanyal, an artist turned photographer, found a deep passion to capture this ‘Santhali’ folk art through her photography. A solo traveller, Sanwal‘s life revolves around documenting the subtle complexities of ‘Santhali’ folk life, it’s social, anthropological, economic and cultural facets. Photo-journalism helps her view life from a new perspective and she hopes to take you on a wonderful pictorial journey across rural Bengal through her creations.

Photographer Pinki Sanyal


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