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History Of Folk Art 

Potchitra is one of the oldest surviving folk art forms in Bangladesh. An art skill passed down for generations. Storytelling through a series of paintings is a well loved and well practiced art in this region. The tales are mostly about mythical or religious figures and their exploits. But in potchitra (pot means scroll or a piece of cloth used as a canvas), the paintings are drawn on separate pieces of cloth. If you put together all the different pieces of a pot or story, you get the whole story of one of Kirshna’s feats, or one of the exploits of a Muslim saint called Gazi Pir. A Gazir pat was a popular form of entertainment in rural areas, especially in greater Dhaka, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Comilla, Noakhali, Faridpur, Jessore, Khulna and Rajshahi.


A performance of gazir gan (songs about Gazi Pir) or usually takes place in the courtyard of rural homesteads. The performer gradually unrolls the scroll, pointing to different illustrations with a thin bamboo staff as he narrates the incidents. A few percussionists stand beside the lead performer and accompany him on the judi, dhol and chati.  Those who took part in the performance were members of the Bedey community and Muslim by faith. However, like all other forms of folk art, potchitra too is fading fast as a result of rapid urbanization and the technological revolution. Though folklorists believe that in some parts of Bangladesh and West Bengal potchitra still survives with a few practicing here and there, the gap between scroll artists and the public has continued to widen.

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Shambhu Acharya (b 1958)

Gazir Pat, 2020

Size | 60" x 28"

Material | `Markin` cloth,paste made from tamarind seeds and powder of brick and chalk.



Gazir pat! the whole story of one of the exploits of a Muslim saint called Gazi Pir who rides a Bengal tiger and fights enemies like a warrior. Gazir Pata form of scroll painting; an important genre of folk art, practised by patuya(painters) in rural areas and depicting various incidents in the life of Gazi Pir. Until the recent past, the narration of the story of Gazi Pir.

Shambhu Acharya (b 1958)

Behula - Lakhindar, 2020 - 2021

Size | 60" x 28"

Material | `Markin` cloth,paste made from tamarind seeds and powder of brick and chalk.



“ Behula - Lakhindar’s Immortal Love Story”
Behula is the protagonist in the Shiva Purana and the Manasamangal genre of Bengali medieval epics. A number of works belonging to this genre were written between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. Though the religious purpose of these works is to eulogise the Hindu goddess Manasa, these works are more well known for depicting the love story of Behula and her husband Lakhindar (or Lakshindar or Lakshmindara).



Shambhu Acharya was born in 1954. His father was patua Shudir Chandra Acharya and mother was Kalpana Bala Acharya who herself was an Alpona painter. His family has been practicing 'patachitra or scroll painting', for more than 450 years or nine generations. The themes of their paintings include Gazir pat, Sree Krisna, Muharram, Ramayan, Mahabharata, Manusha Mangal, Rass leela and also various other themes from the local folk culture. His artworks have been exhibited so far Indonesia (1995), London (1999), China (2008, 2009), NewYork (2008),Brussels (2009), Japan (2013), Bangladesh (2003, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2015). And collected by the London British Museum; Victoria Albert Museum; Kunming Museum, China; Shanghai Museum, China ; Indonesia Museum; Fukukua Meuseum; Bangladesh National Museum; Folkart Museum, Sonargaon. Moreover two books published i.e. Potchitra o Shmbhu Acharya by Dr. Husne Ara Lina and Chitrakola by Mahbub Kamran (Publisher : Asiatic Society).

Shambhu used only local materials for his paintings. For the canvas, he uses `markin` cloth applying age-old techniques. The cloth is fast layered with mud or cow dung and dried. It is then layered again with a paste made from tamarind seeds and powder of brick and chalk. Thus, surfaces of the patachitre canvas which is called doli are prepared. This canvas lasts for ages.

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