Durga in Bengal Patachitra

Showcasing a unique folk art form of scroll paintings and songs depicting the Indian mythological deity, Goddess Durga, through visual story telling.

The Art of a Patachitra Artist, Rupsona Chitrakar, 2018, From the collection of: Banglanatak
Patachitra of Durga, Rahim Chitrakar, 2018, From the collection of: Banglanatak
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The Patuas of Naya village in Pingla, West Bengal are a Muslim community identified by the title 'Chitrakar', literally meaning 'picture-makers'. They have been painting and singing stories on Hindu mythology and folk tales for centuries, and Goddess Durga is one of their favourite subjects. Patachitra is their unique oral-visual art form of scroll paintings accompanied by narrative songs, making them painters, lyricists, and singers all at once.

To know more about the confluence of Patachitra and the annual festival of Goddess Durga, visit this link

Single Panel Patachitra of Goddess Durga with Family (2019) by Anwar ChitrakarBanglanatak

Durga through the eyes of the Patuas

Durga, the most popular local deity, is a very interesting subject because of the many Puranic and folk tales associated with her and the Patuas' adaptation of these stories into their unique styles of painting.

One can see the care, love and emotional connect they have with the Goddess in their detailed illustrations.

Durga Puja: A brief history

Durga Puja is believed to have started during the 15th century, and its essence lies in the mythological tales that transform the Goddess into a loving mother, a special daughter, and a beautiful wife, apart from being the symbol of good prevailing over evil. 

This frame shows the demon, 'Asura', whom the Goddess defeats, and her mount, the lion. Her two sons, Lord Ganesha (the Elephant God) with his mount, the mouse, and Lord Karthik with his mount, the peacock, are depicted on either side.

Goddess Lakshmi

The two daughters of Durga are Lakshmi and Saraswati. Goddess Lakshmi, worshiped for prosperity, is depicted here on the left. She can be recognized by the pot of wealth that she carries and her mount, the owl. 

Goddess Saraswati

On the right is Goddess Saraswati, worshiped for knowledge and creativity. She carries the Veena and is accompanied by her mount, the swan, at all times. 


The frame on top, known as Chaalchitra, is a typical Patachitra element to include other Gods and Goddesses of the cohort in the painting.

On the frame we find Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Kali and other deities. Interestingly, the Moon and the Sun are also depicted. 

Single Panel Patachitra of Goddess Durga and her Family (2019) by Anwar ChitrakarBanglanatak

Different Styles

Every Patua has different styles and expressions even when the subject is the same.This frame shows the Goddess with her family.

This is a painting by Anwar Chitrakar, a young versatile traditional Patua artist who won the State Award (West Bengal) in 2002, and the National Award in 2006, and the Rabindra Bharati University Award for his innovative work.

Durga is holding different objects given to her by different Gods in order to vanquish the Asura. 

These objects include Shankha (Conch), Chakra (Discus), Dhanush (Bow), Padma (Lotus), Teer (Arrow), Trishul (Trident), Gada (Mace), Sarpa (Snake), and Kuthar (Axe).

Anwar was commissioned by the Govt. of India in 2013 to create a painting of Goddess Durga for the Mumbai International Airport.

Anwar is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been collected and showcased across India, Germany, UK, France, and USA.

Patachitra of Durga and Ganesha (2018) by Uttam ChitrakarBanglanatak

Goddess Durga

Here Goddess Durga is depicted as a loving mother with her son Ganesha in her lap.

Goddess Durga

This is a painting by Uttam Chitrakar

Patachitra of Lakshmi (2018) by Uttam ChitrakarBanglanatak

Goddess Lakshmi

This painting depicts the Goddess Lakshmi with her mount, the owl.

Bahadur Chitrakar is the painter. 

Goddess Lakshmi

The figures show an influence of the Bengal School of Art, especially in the features of the eyes, nose, fingers and the softness of the lines.

Goddess Lakshmi

The owl has been stylized to have features similar to that of the Goddess, and also bears influence of the Bengal School of Art.

Patachitra of Lakshmi (2018) by Bahadur ChitrakarBanglanatak

Goddess Lakshmi

Here Goddess Lakshmi is painted in a completely different style, with features that are more tribal. 

Goddess Lakshmi

The specific features that evoke a tribal appearance are the eyes, lips, ornaments of the Goddess, and the solid bold strokes used.

Goddess Lakshmi

In a touch of modernism, her garment is inscribed with English nursery rhymes!

The artist, Bahadur Chitrakar, says that he likes using text, both English and Bengali, to decorate his paintings. These rhymes in particular are taken from his children's nursery rhyme book.

Patachitra of Ganesha (2018) by Bahadur ChitrakarBanglanatak

Lord Ganesha

This painting of Lord Ganesha, also by Bahadur Chitrakar, is more modern in its style, and has more sophisticated use of colors.

Lord Ganesha

Here the artist has used the word 'Ganapati' in the Bengali script to decorate Ganesha's trunk.

Patachitra of Ganesha (2018) by Uttam ChitrakarBanglanatak

Lord Ganesha

This is a painting of Lord Ganesha by Uttam Chitrakar.

Lord Ganesha

Here, Ganesha is depicted in a more traditional style of painting using typical Pat motifs.

Painting of Kamale Kamini (2019) by Anwar ChitrakarBanglanatak

The Lady of the Lotus

This frame, painted by Anwar Chitrakar, depicts a scene from a popular folklore about an incarnation of Goddess Durga, known as 'Kamale Kamini' (Lady of the Lotus), where she is sitting on a lotus with Ganesha.

The Lady of the Lotus

Kamale Kamini is an ancient folklore about a merchant on a very long sea voyage to Sinhal, where he travels many miles but loses his way in the middle of the ocean. 

The Lady of the Lotus

Then a beautiful lady sitting on a lotus,  who seems to be a Goddess from her beauty and her ways, appears in the middle of the rough waters. Soon after sighting this miraculous apparition, the merchant finds land and reaches Sinhal. The Goddess was believed to be a folk deity but with time merged with the Puranic deity, Chandi. All these are believed to be incarnations of Durga.

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