Bengal: Take a Boat Tour of Bengal’s Maritime History at India’s Only Dedicated Museum | Kolkata News

Kolkata: The Patia boats used in the Talsari-Digha belt use overlapping technology dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries, as shown on a plaque at the Jagannath Temple in Puri, on stone reliefs at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London , and Indian Museum of Calcutta. But unlike Viking ships which also used overlapping planks but were superseded after the 11th century by other boat-making technologies, the overlapping plank (clinker) technology used in Bengal boats continued to evolve and has survived the test of time.
Patia is one of 46 typological varieties of boats exhibited in the country’s only boat museum located at the Kankurgachhi Cultural Research Institute. “When we talk about boats, we refer to nauka, dinghi and, sometimes, pansi or salti. But there are many others, such as merhli, goluiya, paukia, patia, sultani, khoro kisti, betnai, chhot and bachhari, which are also used in Bengal and find a place in this museum,” Swarup Bhattacharya told the Anthropological Survey of India. visitors to the museum on Saturday.
Among the visitors were Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh Toufique Hasan, Head of Consulate Raizul Islam and Heads of Consulate of Bhutan Sangey Rinchen and Nima Tshering.
Bhattacharya has been a key resource person in the development of the museum and served as a guide on heritage and ethnographic museum tours organized by Bespoke Art & Unique Legacies (BAUL) in collaboration with the Backward Classes Welfare Department of the State. The museum had been developed in 2014 when former CBI co-director Upen Biswas was minister of the department.
Emphasizing that a study of current boats can help reconstruct Bengal’s maritime past, Bhattacharyya said the abundance of rivers and tributaries across various topographies in West Bengal and Bangladesh not only led to the development of various types of boats, but also led to boats being inextricably linked to the culture of water and the expression of emotion through Bhatiali and Sari chanting.
“The confluence of two great river systems – Ganga and Brahmaputra – created the Bengal Delta, known as a center of commerce, learning and the arts since the times of the Mahabharata and through ancient dynasties. For centuries , the rivers have been used for trade, commerce, exploration, travel, fishing, entertainment and wars. When we talk about boat racing, we think of Kerala. But there are boat races or Nouka Baich which still take place in Bengal today: in the Sunderbans, Nadia and Murshidabad,” Bhattacharyya recounted.
BAUL’s Samrat Choudhury, who had previously organized heritage walks at industrial museums including the Reserve Bank and Eastern Railway, said the organization would continue its efforts to explore Kolkata’s lesser-known museums and urged authorities to open these heritage treasures. for public viewing.
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