Naramedha Pata (Narrative Scroll telling the story of Naramedha)

Durlav Chitrakara, Indian, active early 20th century

Made in Bandarpur, West Bengal, India, Asia


Opaque watercolor on cloth-backed paper

22 feet 2 1/4 inches × 23 1/2 inches (676.3 × 59.7 cm) Framed (one half of scroll): 12 feet 2 1/2 inches × 30 3/4 inches × 1 1/2 inches (372.1 × 78.1 × 3.8 cm) Framed (other half of scroll): 12 feet 2 1/2 inches × 27 1/4 inches × 1 1/2 inches (372.1 × 69.2 × 3.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1964

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In Bengal, professional minstrel-painters (called patuas) paint scrolls (known as patas) that depict popular stories in a vertical sequence of illustrations. Patuas use these scrolls to accompany their songs, which are composed of couplets. Each couplet describes an episode in the story and corresponds to an individual illustration. As the song unfolds, the patua unrolls the scroll to reveal the appropriate picture and holds it up for his audience to see. As they have for centuries, patuas today travel from place to place, entertaining audiences in the courtyard of a temple, school, large home, or even under the shade of a tree.