The village Amadubi situated in the Eastern part of Jharkhand is also called the village of Paitkar. ‘Paitkar’ is the traditional painting of this village, an art form which is present in the village from ancient times. The Paitkar paintings are also popularly known as the scroll paintings of Jharkhand. This painting form is popular in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and other adjacent states of India.
The tribal artists in Jharkhand have fostered this art of scroll painting that has long been used in storytelling performances and in socio-religious customs. The paintings that belong to this form have a common subject of what happens to human life after death. This scroll painting also mirrors the Bengali and Jharkhandi daily life. The historical lineage of the Paitkar painting can be traced to the culture associated with the state of West Bengal, but now the art is practiced only in Amadubi village.
Paitkar painting may be considered as the variable of Pata painting. Pata painting or Pata chitra was term used for long scroll painting. This scroll painting has a vertical format. Pata painting is one of the earliest folk paintings of India. The Paitkar artists make the palm leaves as the base of the art and the brushes are made from the hair of squirrel and goat.
In Santhal tribe of Jharkhand, Jadu Patua or Paitkar painting is considered to have the capacity to send the wandering souls of the dead to heaven, and thus, help to free them of all pain.
The text of visual art comprises the medium, form and the content. The medium is the material of the art pieces or how it is made up of. Content reflects the portrayal — what the artist actually did portray and how the spectators react to both the intended and actual messages. Moreover the form means the elements of art and the principles of design that the artists use.
The medium through which the Paitkar artists use to paint their scrolls is water-based colours derived from nature. The colour palette of Chitrakar’s (artists) consists of fewer colours. They collect only primary colours—Red, Yellow and Blue, from the nature.
Human characters occupy most part of the painted space. These characters are present in profile and sometimes in semi profile. The eyes are elongated which reflects the characteristic of Indian painting style. The painted face came much later only in the mid-20th century. Spontaneous lines drawn by Paitka have an angularity, and anatomical details are not very defined.
Paitkar painting are mostly associated with Hindu epics. The stories are from of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Manasa song (Manasa pada), Kali song (Kali Pada). Ramayana story focuses on the character drawings of Rama, Sita and Mandudari. They recount the story about the deeds of gods and goddesses, such as Shiva or Durga from Hindu mythology; or the local deities, such as the snake goddess Manasa.
In Amadubi, there are 40-45 houses among which a few are practicing Paitkar although most of the villagers know about the art. There have been observed only 3 to 4 artists who still practice this scroll painting. Most of the Amadubi villagers gave up the tradition of Paitkar because it was not economically viable. They have pursued a range of occupations such as carpentry, murti-making, tailoring, agricultural labour, repairing work etc. However, with the right kind of intervention from the government, this age-old heritage of India can be preserved. The need of the hour is to bring the Paitkar art in the mainstream from the remote villages and to devise means so as to people of the nation have means to access these paintings.