The Jadupatua paintings are vertical scroll paintings that were performed on cloth in earlier days but later these paintings were done on papers. These painting were popular in Murshidabad, Birbhum, Bankura, Hooghly, Burdwan, and Midnapore districts of West Bengal and Santal Parganas of Bihar. From the olden times, the scroll paintings or the pata has been popular in various parts of India.
The scrolls were made from waste paper, which had been discarded by shops or by government offices because good paper was not easily available. The scrolls were made up of sheets of paper that were either glued together or sewn together and a piece of old cloth or calico was sewn to the end of the scroll to protect the paper from damaging. The two ends of the cloth were sewn round pieces of bamboo, one of which acted as a roller around which the scroll could be wound. Finally a string was attached to one end to secure the wound-up scroll. Some scrolls were short and consisted of only two or three panels; others could contain fourteen or more. In the present collection one scroll has been kept intact and the remainder cut into sections and were separately mounted.
The scroll paintings were prepared mainly for Santal audiences by a special Hindu painter caste known as jadupatuas and were collected in the Santal Parganas.
The scrolls in horizontal forms are still produced in Rajasthan while vertical scroll-painting illustrating stories in a series of descending panels were produced in Bengal. The Patuas or the village artists made the scrolls paintings in West Bengal in the districts of Murshidabad, Birbhum, Bankura, Hooghly, Burdwan and Midnapore. There were paintings on cloth illustrating scenes from the Ramayana and Bhaagvata Puarna. In the recent times, the paintings on cloth have been replaced by paintings on paper. In the 1940’s scroll paintings on paper were made in the Santal Parganas district of Bihar. The district of Santal Parganas lies in the red soil uplands adjoining West Bengal and the region is inhabited partly by Hindus and a few Muslims. But the majority of the population consists of the Santals, who are the largest and the most integrated aboriginal tribe of Bihar. The Santals spoke in the Santali (pre- Dravidian language). The scroll paintings in the India Office Library were prepared mainly for Santal audiences by a special Hindu painter caste known as jadupatuas and were collected in the Santal Parganas. The jadupatuas are members of a small community, who are compared in social status to potters, barbers, blacksmiths and sweetmeat makers. Similar to the patuas of Bengal, they lived in the Santal Parganas. They earned their livelihood by wandering from village to village singing the stories depicted and for a night’s performance, they earned about two annas or rice. They traveled carrying with them the bag of scrolls and a bamboo container of oil. At the age of 19, the jadupatuas earned their livelihood. The jadupatuas spoke in debased Bengali and could thus communicate with Santals. The Santals held the jadupatuas in admiration and for this reason the caste had come to be known in the Santal Parganas and not merely as patua. In an attempt to rise up the social ladder, the jadupatuas discarded this name and had taken to calling themselves as chitrakar (painter). To know more read: