Kalighat Pats
Kalighat Pats Kalighat Pats

Kalighat Pats

Kalighat Pats

Kalighat Pats

- 19th century

Kalighat Pats

The Kalighat temple came up in Calcutta in 1809, drawing communities of traditional artisans who began to produce pats or paintings on religious and mythological themes, sold to the pilgrims as souvenirs.

Traditionally painted on cloth accompanied by vocal renditions of the illustrated, these pats were now produced by the largely anonymous pat makers, or patuas, on paper—cheap and easily accessible—in response to urban needs. They remained popular till the early decades of the twentieth century.

Beginning with religious themes and featuring epics, they soon began to depict social themes, taking their cue from the Company Paintings, especially social satire that was famously captured in the series on the Elokeshi trial in Calcutta.

The popularity of Kalighat pats increased in mid-nineteenth century when the expanding railway network connected Calcutta to cities such as Varanasi, Patna, Bombay, and Agra, and even to suburbs and interiors of Bengal, leading to an increased inflow of tourists, traders, and pilgrims to Calcutta.

By the early twentieth century, Kalighat pats began losing ground to increasingly accessible print technology products, their impact on the developing art trends was tremendous. Many Indian artists trained in Western academism but looking to create an indigenous vocabulary, such as Jamini Roy, were inspired by Kalighat pats. These were also the inspiration behind Gaganendranath Tagore’s caricatures lampooning the Westernised Bengali babu. An important collection of Kalighat pats is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, gifted by the author Rudyard Kipling in August 1917.

‘These drawings from Kalighat patuas would possess a peculiar interest and if they would be hung up in any place amongst ten other pictures, they would outshine the others not only for their different characterisation but for their wonderful colour-effects and contours as well... Thus the pictures had a wonderful mass appeal and mass appreciation’



dag exhibitions

The ‘Manifestations’ series of 20th Century Indian Art, Editions VIII, X, XI

DAG, New Delhi, 2012-14

‘The Art of Bengal’

DAG, New Delhi, 2012; Mumbai, 2014

‘Indian Divine: Gods & Goddesses in 19th and 20th Modern Century’

DAG, New Delhi, Mumbai, 2014

‘Navrasa: The Nine Emotions of Art’

DAG, Mumbai, New Delhi, 2020

‘Home is a Place: Interiority in Indian Art’

DAG, New Delhi, 2021

notable collections

Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata

Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata

Indian Museum, Kolkata

Gurusaday Museum, Kolkata

Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan

Naprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures, Prague

Pushkin Museum of Graphic Arts, Moscow

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

India Office Collection, British Library, London

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

archival media

The Age on Sunday

12 September 1999

The Hindu

1 April