Origin of Kalighat Paintings in India
|Origin of Kalighat Paintings in India|
Kalighat paintings (Origin of Kalighat Paintings in India) first came into being during the 19th century at Kolkata, Bengal, in the market area close to the Kalighat temple there. It first appeared as a souvenir associated with the Kali temple at Kalighat. In the beginning, Kalighat temples only treated Hindu mythological themes, but gradually initiated including everyday themes, secular, social and the current political themes as well.
So, the art that had till then been within the boundary of religion alone, stepped outside it and commented on contemporary issues affecting the then social, cultural and social milieu. These paintings started reflecting the new values and new ethics of a modern society. Some artists even painted Imam Husain’s horse, Duldul and certain other aspects of Islam, in order to please their Muslim clients. With time, Hindu artisans from several parts of Bengal migrated into Kalighat and established their profession there.
That entire area around the temple soon came to be known as Pata-para or the artists locality. The artists who created Kalighat paintings came from several areas of rural Bengal. Their paintings, hence, were an impression of their own perception of urban life and society in their times. They would, for instance, show their derision towards the Babu culture which raised its hood then, the rise of feminism and liberal attitudes, religious hypocrisy, social debauchery and so on. The Paintings did not stop with being mute works of art-they actually portrayed a dynamic society, evolving each and every day.
Features of the Kalighat Paintings
The Kalighat paintings actually reflected the painters’ own orthodoxy and fear of the rapid social changes taking place at the time.
• Popular themes portrayed then would be of the Rani of Jhansi on horseback, babus wooing their concubines, cats bearing Hindu holy marks on the forehead as allusion to debauchery, goods for nothing dandies and so on.
• There was a general wave of resentment against the British Raj, so they would try to portray the victory of good over evil, symbolizing the ultimate victory of India over the British Rule.
• The most important and attractive aspect of the Kalighat paintings was that they were simple drawings and paintings, which could easily be reproduced by lithography. Such prints were hand-coloured, giving the entire picture a beautiful, raw look. This trend continued up to the early part of the 20th century and these paintings ended up in museums and private collections.
• Kalighat painting verily captured the essence of daily life and they influenced modern artists like the late Jamini Roy etc.
• Kalighat paintings got hugely popular in the 20th century, when Parsi based families vied with each other to acquire them. The main aim of Kalighat paintings was to create a dynamic picture that would intuitively apprehend the subject rather than simply represent it. The general treatment of figures and planes forged the two dimensional quality of the pictorial space. The broad planes, the bold lines, the linear tensions, the vibrant colours used and the symmetrical curves smoothly blended in together to create a visual poetry of sorts. Sadly, since the painters left their portraits unsigned, vital information about them has gone off into oblivion.