Friday, 11 October 2013

Subrata Biswas | Chhau, Behind The Mask

Photo © Subrata Biswas-All Rights Reserved

India, black and white* photography, storytelling, cultural-religious tradition....what's not to make my pulse race?

This is about the ancient traditional dance form named Chhau. It's a type of Indian tribal martial dance which is popular in the Indian states of Orissa (now called Odisha), Jharkhand and West Bengal. There are three subgenres of the dance, based on its places of origin and development, and these are Seraikella Chhau, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Purulia Chhau.

The Chhau blends dance and martial practices employing mock combat techniques, stylized gaits of birds and animals and movements based on the chores of village housewives. The dance is performed by male dancers from families of traditional artists or from local communities and is performed at night in an open space.

As is often the case with such traditional dance forms, the future doesn't look bright for the Chhau despite it being inscribed in the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Fewer young people are interested in joining the art form due to the uncertainty of its financial future.

Behind The Mask is a photo essay by Subrata Biswas, a talented visual storyteller and painter from Kolkata. Despite being an IT software engineer by training, he decided to embrace a life as a self-taught painter/artist and photographer/photojournalist. His paintings have been exhibited in various venues India, while his photographs were published in a number of print and online media.

*I don't know why pure black & white images now automatically appear as sepia on Blogger.