Explore the Living Heritage of Purulia in West Bengal

Take a closer look at the Chau folk form of Purulia, its practitioners, their lifestyles and festivities.

By Banglanatak

Purulia Chau dance is a colourful and vigorous tribal masked dance form that was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.

Chau Dance Drama Artists (2018)Banglanatak

Visit the Chau Dancers' Village

Located at the foothills of the Dalma range, the beautiful villages with hilly terrains constitute the abode of the traditional tribal communities of Chau dancers. 

Purulia Village (2018)Banglanatak

Meet the Artists

There are more than 2000 artists residing in the villages who regularly perform locally, nationally, and internationally to earn a livelihood.

Performance at Chau Festival (2019) by Debilal KarmakarBanglanatak

Watch Chau Shows

The Chau dancers of Purulia can leave the audience spellbound with their mesmerizing performances. This form in its true spirit and vigour is not something that many urban audiences have experienced.

Chau Dance Drama (2019) by Aparna MahatoBanglanatak

Visit the Community Museum

Visit the Chau Resource Centre at Balarampur, enjoy the community museum on Chau folk form and enjoy Chau shows.

Chau Dance (2018) by Jagannath ChoudhuryBanglanatak

Enjoy the Various Dance Dramas

Chau dance has a large repertoire of plays based on folk stories and tribal interpretations of Hindu mythologies. The dancers wear colourful masks representing particular gods, goddesses, demons, and various animals - lion, tiger, bear, monkey.

Chau Mask-makers at Work: Painting Mask of GaneshaBanglanatak

Visit the Mask Makers' Village

Charida in Purulia is the village of mask makers for Chau dance. Previously considered as a sub-industry of this tribal dance form, today it has become an extremely popular mask-makers' hub for its very own unique craft.

Chau Mask-makers at Work: Young Mask-makersBanglanatak

Watch Mask Makers at Work

The art of Chau mask making started in Charida village during the rule of King Madan Mohan Singh Deo of Bagmundi around 150 years back. The masks are made of clay and papier-mâché  with elaborate ornamentation and beautiful colouring that make the masks extremely attractive.

Charida Mask-makers' Hub (2018)Banglanatak

The Street of Mask Makers in Charida

Today it is a highly sought-after tourist destination. All the porches of these artisans' houses are workshops of mask making from where they also sell. The entire village street looks stunning with these masks of bright colours hung in and outside every workshop, with benches outside for anyone to sit and watch the artisans at work and buy masks.

Colourful Workshop of a Charida Mask-maker (2018)Banglanatak

Interact with Artists or Learn Mask Making

One can learn mask making and mask painting directly from local artists by attending workshops. Especially fun for children!

Workshop on Chau Dance (2019)Banglanatak

Participate in a Chau Dance Workshop

Dance workshops organized in the villages are an excellent opportunity, especially for youth, to learn about Chau dance, its steps, speciality, and history.

Chau Dance Skill Training (2018) by Kartik Singh MuraBanglanatak

Participate in a Chau Dance Workshop

The workshops are conducted by Master artists or Gurus.

Cultural Exchange betwee Bangarra Dance Group and Purulia Chau Dancers (2018)Banglanatak

Collaborate with Chau Dancers

The Chau dancer community welcomes artists and performers from around the world to visit their villages, stay with them, and engage in cultural exchange through innovative collaborative productions.

Workshop between Bangarra Dance Group and Purulia Chau Performers (2018)Banglanatak

International Cultural Exchange with Chau Artists

A dance theatre troupe, Bangarra, from Australia interacting with rural Chau dancers through performances.

Workshop between Bangarra Dance Group and Purulia Chau Artists (2018)Banglanatak

Innovate with the Chau Art Form

Bangarra theatre troupe from Australia innovating with rural Chau musicians through interaction and exchange.

Communiy Museum on Chau Masks in Charida (2019)Banglanatak

Visit the Chau Mask Community Museum

A community museum of Chau masks in Charida showcases the tradition and process of mask making as well as different types of masks.

Communiy Museum of Chau Masks in Charida (2019)Banglanatak

Learn About the History and Evolution of Chau Masks

It is a small museum, with free entry, housed in the community resource centre of Charida artists. The mask-makers accompany visitors to the museum and proudly present their heritage.

Holi Festival at Nimdih (2020)Banglanatak

Celebrate with the Artists at their Annual Festivals

The festivals are Basant Utsav (Nimdih) and Chau Jhumur Utsav (Bamnia, Balarampur) that promote confluence of folk cultures and build appreciation for them through performances, artist interactions and festivities.

Holi Festival at Nimdih (2020)Banglanatak

Celebrate with the Artists at their Annual Festivals

Purulia has evolved into a mainstream tourism destination, and has attracted more visitors than the Dooars in 2019. An acclaimed festival destination, the Chau Festival in December and the Dol / Holi festival in March integrate local folk performances and culture into an experiential tourism package. 

Holi Festival at Nimdih (2020)Banglanatak

Celebrate with the Artists at their Annual Festivals

There are basic facilities of overnight stay in the form of huts, tents and cottages in the festival destinations. One can enjoy an authentic cultural ambience along with the local folk artists during these festivals.

To know more about the tradition of Chau folk art form, visit this link

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