Artist Madhusudan Das brings ‘Mashan Chitrakala’

Indian artist Madhusudan Das has brought the ‘Mashan Chitrakala’ which is ‘Mashan Painting’ in English.

It is a modern art form.

It has enormous cultural and religious importance among the ethnic group named Rajbonshi community in India’s Assam, Meghalaya, northern West Bengal, Bihar, eastern Nepal, and northern Bangladesh.

What is ‘Mashan Chitrakala’

‘The word ‘Mashan’ comes from ‘Shashan’ (the Bengali word for Hindu crimination ground),’ artist Madhusudan Das told Bangla Shangbad over the phone.

‘At present Rajbonshis are using this art form for performing Mashan Puja (worship) on a limited scale,’ said the artist.

A few years back, Das visited the houses of Rajbongshis to collect information about the ‘Mashan Chitrakala’ for preparing a research paper on contemporary arts of the Indian Subcontinent.

Dola Kali ‘Mashan Chitrakala’. Photo: Bangla Shangbad

He said he also spent some days with them and tried to learn about it. Thus, he got inspired by it.

Describing the background of ‘Mashan Chitrakala’, the artist continued, ‘The colourful Mashan Painting makers are called malakars (garland makers) among the Rajbonshi community. They make different motifs with shola (a wild plant that can be described as sponge wood).’

Ganga Sagar, Behula Lakkhinder, and Shasan Kali (From left to right) ‘Mashan Chitrakala’. Photo: Bangla Shangbad

‘They also use handmade brushes and natural colours on the shola motifs. They also use the motifs for making topor (headwear for the groom) and sithi mukut (headwear for the bride) in the marriage ceremony.’

Shashan Mashan, and Manasha (From left to right) ‘Mashan Chitrakala’. Photo: Bangla Shangbad

Das highlighted the significance of the ‘Mashan Chitrakala’ saying the simple spontaneous line, the drawing of face and eyes, simple proportion, the contrasting colour of black and white and the thickness of lines are fascinating. There is a strange sensitive characteristic in the lines.

Manasha ‘Mashan Chitrakala’. Photo: Bangla Shangbad

‘The use of drawing on white paper and cutting of shola in different shapes give impressive power to different figures. The different colour express the power of the figure differently. Through the simplicity in the drawing, they possess they (malakars) have a special type of skill,’ the artist added.

Who is Artist Madhusudhan Das

Das was born on 18 December 1973 in India’s Jalpaiguri. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Kala Bhavan, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, India.

He is a National Scholarship Holder by the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD). In 1995, he was awarded a Gold Medal at the All India Art Festival in Andhra Pradesh. He got Merit Scholarship from Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharti University in 1992.

He presented his works in India and the International Solo Exhibitions in Singapore, London (UK), and New York (USA).

He got an opportunity to present his artwork at National Museum in Dhaka in Bangladesh which was organized by Indian High Commission in 2017.

He also took part in the exhibition organized by American Embassy in 2017 in New Delhi, a solo exhibition at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indian Cultural Centre (NSCBICC) of the Indian High Commission in 2019 in Malaysia, and a presentation of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Nehru Centre High Commission of India in 2019 in London (UK).

Artist Madhusudhan Das is seen teaching ‘Mashan Chitrakala’ to a student. Photo: Bangla Shangbad

Recently, Das received Senior Fellowship from the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) in New Delhi of the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India. So, he is joining the art workshop at different educational institutions and teaching students about ‘Mashan Chitrakala’.

The spontaneous participation of the students in the art workshop fascinates artist Madhusudhan Das. Photo: Bangla Shangbad

Sharing his present moment, Das said, ‘I’m happy to get the chance to train young students on Mashan Chitrakala under the Fellowship. Now, students are showing deep interest in this artwork which is fascinating.’

Also read: Bangladesh’s Towhida Tusnim Tifa to compete in 10th MGI

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