Experiencing Purulia Chau of West Bengal

Introducing various facets of Purulia Chau dance that was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.

Purulia Landscape (2018)Banglanatak

The Landscape of Purulia

Purulia is a district of West Bengal that borders the Chota Nagpur plateau.

A Performer in Costume of Goddess Durga (2018)Banglanatak

It is a land of exotic natural and cultural assets. 

Purulia Lanscape (2018)Banglanatak

It is known for the special red flower 'Palash' that marks the arrival of Spring.

Purulia Landscape (2018)Banglanatak

Against the backdrop of its rugged hilly ranges, undulating plains, red soil, juxtaposed with lush green fields, ...

Kumari Dam on Kangsabati River (2018)Banglanatak

...and rivers cutting across the terrain, ...   

Chau Dance Drama (2019) by Aparna MahatoBanglanatak

...the Chau dance of Purulia looms as a majestic performing art that equally expresses the vigour and character of the landscape.

The Daharia Chaal (2018) by Pashupati MahatoBanglanatak

Chau dance, an acrobatic tribal mask dance form, is an integral part of the community’s lifestyle and many villages  are traditional habitats of Chau dancers. 

A Chau Dance Troupe Walking in Dance Steps (2018)Banglanatak

In their words, "we dance when we walk and we sing when we talk".

Watch the Chau dancers in their village - a glimpse of a community based art form.

Musicians of Chau Dance Drama, 2019, From the collection of: Banglanatak
Dhamsa and Dhol Players at a Chau Dance Show, 2016, From the collection of: Banglanatak
Chau Dance Drama, 2016, From the collection of: Banglanatak
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Purulia Chau brings together acrobatic dance, music, and mask-making in a unique combination. A number of traditional instruments are played by specialized community artists during a Chau dance performance. Among these are Dhamsa (percussion instrument with a rich bass sound), Dhol (percussion instrument), and Sanai (an aerophonic instrument).

Chau Artists Performing (2018) by Chau ArtistsBanglanatak

Musical Instruments, Beats and Tunes of Chau Dance

Listen to the sounds of Chau instruments.

Chau Mask-makers at Work: Making Demon MaskBanglanatak

Making of Chau Mask

Chau mask making is a specialized industry of artists residing in Charida, Purulia.

Watch a Charida artist at work, making Chau mask.

Chau Performance at Holi Festival in Nimdih (2020)Banglanatak

Portfolio of Chau Dance Dramas

Chau Dance Drama Performance (2018) by Chau ArtistsBanglanatak

Mahisasura Badh (Slaying of Mahisasura)

Mahisasura remained undefeated by the boon of Lord Brahma. Angry and irritated with his perversions, the gods approached Bramha, Vishnu, Maheswar for safety and dignity, and a mighty woman was created with all the glory and power of trinity with all their weapons. Adyashakti Mahamaya killed Mahisasura with the  weapons of her ten hands.

Watch Chau dance drama on Mahisasura Badh (Slaying of Mahisasura).

Performance of Chau Dancers (2019) by Chau ArtistsBanglanatak

Kshatriya Nikshatra by Parashuram

King Kartavirya Arjuna was once hunting in a jungle. After an unsuccessful hunt, he spotted the cottage of sage Jamadagni and sought his hospitality. Jamadagni arranged a feast for the king, who was so impressed that he asked the sage how he had made such arrangements in such a short time. 

Chau Dance of Purulia (2019) by Chau ArtistsBanglanatak

Kshatriya Nikshatra by Parashuram

Jamadagni replied that it was all thanks to Mother Surabhi, the cow-goddess Kamdhenu. On learning this, the king killed Jamadagni and forcibly took away Mother Surabhi. Jamadagni's son, Muni Parashuram, swore that he would rid the earth of all kshatriyas, and proceeded to do so.

Chau Dance Show (2018) by Chau ArtistsBanglanatak

Asur Kanya Beer Birangana

Kamkantaka, the only daughter of the asura (demon) king Murha-daitya, was an accomplished warrior and a devotee of the goddess Kamakhya. The goddess, satisfied with her devotion, gifted her an arrow and blessed her that nobody would be able to defeat her in battle.

Chau Dancers (2019) by Chau ArtistsBanglanatak

Asur Kanya Beer Birangana

Eventually Murha-daitya attacked heaven, and the scared gods sought the help of Lord Krishna. Krishna assured the gods and killed Murha-daitya in battle. Kamkantaka, entering the battleground to avenge her father, faced off with Lord Balaram and defeated him, rendering him unconscious, using her goddess-gifted arrow. Krishna then entered into battle with Kamkantaka, and as he was about to kill her, Kamakhya appeared in the field of battle to intervene and negotiated a ceasefire.

Chau Artist at a Show (2018) by Jagannath ChoudhuryBanglanatak

Asura - The Demon

Dance of Asura from Mahisasur Badh

Chau Performer and Village Audience (2018) by Chau ArtistsBanglanatak

Goddess Lakshmi

Dance of Goddess Lakshmi

To know more about Chau artists, their ways of living, festivals, and the beauty of Purulia, visit this link

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