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The art of kaligat painting has been a tradition in Kalam Patua's family for centuries. The paintings were initially scroll paintings created on a paper made with layers of cloth, cotton wool and flour, which were pressed together and rolled out. These paintings were called paat and the artists producing them were called patua.

Kaligat, which is now part of Calcutta, is a famous pilgrimage site dedicated to the goddess Kali, and the area around the Kali temple was, and still is, home to this community of painters. During the nineteenth century, these painters developed a style of watercolour paintings for pilgrims, depicting religious as well as political and social themes.

Since 1980, Mr Patua has worked independently and has had exhibitions of his paintings all over India.