This beautiful story pat from Bengal is on loan to the museum from storyteller Helen East.
Unrolled it extends to nearly five metres in length. It is made up of seperate sheets of paper which are stitched together to form the complete pat.
Pat is the Bengali word for scroll and the artist is called a patua. The patua is a form of minstrel who travels West Bengal from village to village singing the story as he unravels his pat two or three frames at a time. When his show, which may consist of two or three scrolls, is over the villagers will reward him with food or money and he will travel on to the next village to perform.
The singing scrolls are often moral tales from the Hindu religion such as the one illustrated above. However this is not always the case they are also used to depict and transmit topical news stories.
This storytelling, or more exactly story-singing tradition dates back many centuries and its origin is unknown. Although most villages have access to news via radio and television the tradition continues to this day in West Bengal with many present day events painted and sung utilizing pats.