Santhal Painting is a notable folk art form, coming from the eastern Indian state of West Bengal (Naya village of Pingla block in Paschim Medinipur district). It is one of the varities of Bengal Patachitra painting. It is found in the patas associated with the tribals – especially the Santals, the largest tribal community in India, who live mainly in the eastern states of India. The paintings are drawn by a special community called Jadu Patuas. The Jadu Patuas are a community of Patuas who have been living among or in close proximity with the tribal. The patas they paint are associated with the tribal life and the songs are sung in the Santali language.
Santhal tribes are sustained by the forests and their occupations – farming, fishing, hunting – revolve around the forests that they live in. After a long day at work, they retire for the day and find relaxation in music and dance. Their inherent love of dance and music forms an important part of Santhal fairs and festivals. The themes in Santhal paintings revolve around this community life especially celebrations and rituals. Paintings depict dancing, harvest and merry making through enchanting minimalist images in muted shades.
Basically freehand painted, Santhal paintings replicate their perception of life. The paintings are traditionally made from handmade paper, backed with cloth. These paintings are traditionally made with natural mineral and vegetable colors. Delightful and earthy, these paintings reflect the ancient tradition of story telling in India. The tribal life of India has a lot of celebration in it. Their eyes shine bright and their body language is full of life.