Literary Criticism

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Village of Painters: Narrative Scrolls from West Bengal

Frank J. Korom
Photographs by Paul J. Smutko

Village of Painters profiles the West Bengali village of Naya, a small agricultural outpost that is home to a unique caste of itinerant scroll painters. The Patuas of West Bengal are a traditional artisan caste specializing in the production of painted narrative scrolls and the performance of songs to accompany their unrolling. These artisans have been plying their trade in this region of India at least since the thirteenth century and possibly earlier. The book features a wide range of contemporary scrolls and examines how their makers are keeping the art vibrantly alive in the rapidly changing cultural landscape of West Bengal.


Frank J. Korom teaches religion and anthropology at Boston University and was a research associate of the Museum of International Folk Art, where he served as curator of Asian and Middle Eastern collections from 1993 to 1998. He is also a 2006 recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

Paul J. Smutko is a senior collections manager for the Museum of International Folk Art.

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

8.5 x 11.5 in. 120 pages 118 color photographs, 1 map