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SINGING PICTURES: From left to right, Rani, Rupban and Manimala Chitrakar of Naya Village in Bengal, India sell their hand-painted scrolls inside Olin Memorial Library Oct. 13. The women have formed a scroll painters' cooperative in an effort to keep this centuries old practice alive. Competition from TV, the Internet, video games has drawn away newer generations.

Rani Chitrakar shows off one of her many scrolls for sale. The scrolls, painted on paper that is mounted on the back of worn dresses, or saris, depict mythological, religious, social and contemporary themes.
Pictured at far right, Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology and professor of film studies, helps the women set up their sales booth. Östör is the co-director of a film, "Singing Pictures," which examines the ancient art of "singing-scroll making" in Bengali and features the Chitrakar women. Östör's film follows the artists' daily lives as they paint, sing, cook, tend to their children, and meet with the cooperative. They discuss the problems and rewards of practicing their art, and speak freely about the social, religious, political changes in the village and the world beyond.
 
The scrolls' colors, Rani Chitrakar explained through a translator, come from flowers, trees, herbs and spices found in India. The black colors are made from burnt rice mixed with gum from tree sap.
Rupban, left, and Manimala Chitrakar, right, sell their work to middle class families in Calcutta, India. They augment their income by selling scrolls to urban buyers and government sponsors for campaigns in adult literacy, social welfare and public health. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)