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Pole Screen in Kolkata

Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is a city in eastern India that is steeped in history and culture. One aspect of Kolkata's rich cultural heritage is its association with the traditional Indian card game of Ganjifa. Ganjifa cards were traditionally made of ivory or tortoiseshell and adorned with intricate paintings and were often displayed on a decorative stand known as a Pole Screen. In this blog, we will explore the history and significance of the Pole Screen in Kolkata.

The use of Pole Screens in Kolkata's Ganjifa tradition dates back to the 18th century, during the rule of the British East India Company. The Company was interested in promoting Indian handicrafts and art, and Ganjifa cards were seen as a prime example of traditional Indian craftsmanship. As a result, Pole Screens became highly sought-after items among the British elite in Kolkata, who would display them in their homes as a symbol of their appreciation for Indian art.

The Pole Screens made in Kolkata during this period were typically made of wood and covered in elaborate paintings. The paintings often depicted scenes from Hindu mythology or local folklore, and were created using a technique called pattachitra, which involved painting on fabric or paper using natural dyes. The paintings on the Pole Screens were highly detailed and intricate, and reflected the skill and artistry of the craftsmen who made them.

Over time, the use of Pole Screens in Kolkata's Ganjifa tradition became more widespread. They were used not only as decorative objects in the homes of the elite but also in public spaces such as temples and community halls. The screens would be set up on a stand and the Ganjifa cards would be placed in the groove around the top of the screen, allowing players to easily see the cards during gameplay.

Today, are still used in Kolkata's Ganjifa tradition and are highly valued by collectors and enthusiasts. While traditional materials such as ivory and tortoise shell are no longer used, modern versions of the cards and screens are made using materials such as wood, paper, and plastic. The artistry and craftsmanship of the Pole Screens, however, remain just as impressive as ever, with modern craftsmen using a variety of techniques to create beautiful and intricate designs.

In conclusion, the Pole Screen is an important part of Kolkata's Ganjifa tradition and is a testament to the city's rich cultural heritage. The screens are not only beautiful and decorative objects but also serve a practical purpose during gameplay. Their continued use and evolution demonstrate the enduring appeal of this ancient Indian card game, and the artistry and skill of the craftsmen who make them.

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