‘Patachitra’ or scroll painting, has been practiced in the Bengal region since the 12th century. Often executed traditionally by families who specialized in this art form where the pictures depicted scenes from cultural myths and religious events, rural bards and story tellers used the scrolls to preach and spread the myths and stories associated with religion. The earliest Patuas, the artists of the scroll paintings, took themes from mythical and religious events from Hinduism and later expanded the range by including secular stories and household themes.
Shambhu Acharya was born in 1954, the son of patua Shudir Chandra Acharya and mother Kalpana Bala Acharya, who herself was an Alpona painter. He is the ninth generation of the family of practitioners of this art form, the first being Ramlochon Acharya. The themes of his paintings include of Ramayan, Sree Krisna, Gazir Pat, Mahabharata, Manusha Mangal, Muharram, Rass leela and also various other themes from the local folk culture His works have been exhibited at a number of galleries and venues at home and abroad, and have been collected by art lovers from both overseas and in Bangladesh. Shambhu Acharya lives in the Munshiganj district of Bangladesh with his wife, three daughters and son, the latter being currently groomed to carry on the tradition. The existence of the Acharya family, 16 households to be exact with that last name, was acknowledged and mentioned by British historian James Wise in his book titled ‘Notes on the Races: Caste and Trades of Eastern Bengal’ during his visit to Dhaka in the 1860s. The book itself was published in 1883. This extended clan not only practiced this art form but others as well such as stone setting, patterns for saris, and jewelry making. Shambhu has the responsibility of carrying forward the family tradition of ‘Patachitra’, the practice of which is now no longer evident in general and there is always the possibility of this form dying out due to other career opportunities, increasing use of westerns techniques and themes in painting, and because of technology. Bangladesh is also experiencing a cultural shift where, art, based on religious traditions, myths, and symbols are increasingly being shunned and lack the patronization they once enjoyed and still deserve. Shambhu Acharya may be the only contemporary living Patua in Bangladesh who has continued to devote his career to this art form.