Author: Aditi Nath Sarkar
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174361359
As part of pocket art series, this album is easy on the eye and at the same time provides a delightfully intelligent and pithy - less than 3,000 words - introduction to a well-loved subject.
The Kalighat School of painting is perhaps the first school of painting in India that is truly modern as well as popular. With their bold simplifications, strong lines, vibrant colors and visual rhythm, these watercolor drawings, usually called pats, have a surprising affinity to modern art. Part of the mystery of their distinctiveness lies perhaps in the fact that they are a fusion produced by a meeting of the East and the West, of ideas and techniques British as well as Bengali, modern as well as traditional.
In August 1690, when the British East India Company founded its trading post in a cluster of rural market places on the east bank of the river Hooghly, there was probably a permanent religious centre at Kalighat, a few miles south, in a forested environment. According to Bengali Hindu belief, a holy relic of the Goddess Sati was preserved in the temple altar. This gives the temple a special sanctity. By 1757, the company army asserted itself against the local viceroy of the distant and weak Mughal Emperor. In 1765, the company, in a surprising puja of thanksgiving at Kalighat , celebrated its accession to power over eastern India.
By the time this particular set of drawings was produced around 1880, Calcutta had grown to be a metropolis with a population of just half a million.