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Collection of Contemporary Bengali Scrolls Leave Liverpool to Tell Tales from India
Traditionally 19th century patuas or picture makers of West Bengal would to go from town to town to spread news of local heroes and of epic battles between good and evil using song and picture scrolls.

LIVERPOOL.- From 15 February 2011 a collection of contemporary Bengali scrolls from National Museums Liverpool will tour across the region. 'Telling Tales: Story Scrolls' from India features six never seen before, beautiful and vibrant scrolls, created by leading contemporary Indian artists.

The tour starts at Prescot Museum from 15 February 2011. The scrolls then travel across the North West over the next year as part of a partnership programme lead by National Museums Liverpool to share its ethnology collection with a wider audience.

Traditionally 19th century patuas or picture makers of West Bengal would to go from town to town to spread news of local heroes and of epic battles between good and evil using song and picture scrolls.

Telling Tales: Story Scrolls from India will display contemporary scrolls by modern-day patuas, that tell ancient stories alongside issues affecting society today. Their scrolls highlight important issues such as AIDS, women’s rights, global events like the tsunami and war in Afghanistan.

The scrolls were acquired by National Museums Liverpool’s ethnology team as part of their joint initiative with The Earth & Grass Workshop on the project ‘Collecting Contemporary India’. This project’s aim is to update National Museum’s Liverpool’s historical Asia collection.

Curator Emma Martin says: “I'm delighted we are getting the chance to share these brand new pieces with museum visitors across the region. The 'Collecting Contemporary India' project has been a very successful programme for National Museums Liverpool and for our partner organisation, The Earth and Grass Workshop.”

The Bengali scroll tradition is an ancient one. They are long, vertical multi-panelled scrolls known as patas (paintings), portraying traditional Indian narratives. The patuas or picture makers of West Bengal are one of India’s great storytelling communities.

Divided into sections, each picture tells just one part of the story. Traditionally, the patua would take his scrolls from village to village. As he told his story through a song the scroll would be unrolled to reveal a new picture. Before TV and the internet the performer would carry these scrolls door to door and village to village, sometimes for a small fee.

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