Telugu 'Patam' art form needs a saviour

There was a time when teams of storytellers, armed with painted scrolls, would steadfastly make their way to North Telangana’s 
villages, after the harvest was over, when their patrons would have some time on their hands to be transported to a mythical world of kings and demons.

But now the sun is setting on Patam, the 900-year-old art of storytelling from this region. Once practised by thousands of artists 
from 12 sub-castes, the narrations would mostly be tales of the mythological origins of each of the parent caste groups, narrated 
with the aid of a Patam or painted scroll. 

The majority of the stories are sourced from myths such as Markandeya Purana, Aadishakti Purana, Mrukanda Purana, Jambava Purana, and Basava Purana, among others. Significantly, the stories, while tracing the “noble origins” of the caste.

Little research has been done to explore the historical origins of these stories and sub-castes. Some of the communities still own 
manuscripts of the myths they narrate, which have not yet been deciphered. All researchers, however, agree that at least some of the stories have emerged from the 12th Century ‘Veera Shaiva’ movement propounded by Basava.

Now Patam is a dying art in need of rejuvenation.

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