Cantastoria is an Italian word for the ancient performance form of picture-story recitation, which involves sung narration accompanied by reference to painted banners, scrolls, or placards. It is a tradition belonging to the underdog, to chronically itinerant people of low social status, yet also inextricably linked to the sacred. It is a practice very much alive today, existing in a wide variety of incarnations around the world, and fulfilling very diverse functions for different populations. Picture-story recitation in its earliest form involved the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. Originating in 6th Century India, this religious and then increasingly secular practice evolved as it spread both east and west. The diverse versions of the practice which appeared in Indonesia, China, Japan, and across the Middle East and Europe came to include instrumental music, puppets, props, broadsheets and booklets, as well as the central printed, painted, embroidered, and/or otherwise decorated narrative images. Various forms of picture-story recitation continue to be practiced today in Iran, Turkey, India, and Indonesia. Recently there has been a revival of interest in picture-story performance among artists, puppeteers and activists in the West, who find that this ancient form has startlingly modern qualities and can easily be infused with fresh content. Cantastoria creation and performance is an essential practice in the Museum of Everyday Life’s ongoing efforts to reflect on the banalities of life in the context of greater ideas and world events. Read more About Sung Paintings. Learn about our Cantastoria Creation Workshops. The Museum of Everyday Life is a collaborative partner in the BANNERS & CRANKS festival, an itinerant, yearly festival of cantastoria and cranky performance.