The Pattachitra Art painting can be defined as one of the oldest and most popular art forms practised majorly in Odisha. Actually, the name Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit word ‘patta’, meaning cloth, and ‘Chitra’, meaning picture. According to beliefs, this art form originated as early as the 12th century and is thus one of the oldest and most famous living art forms.
Chitrakars, who are the patachitra artists, predominantly made icon paintings on the basis of Hindu mythology. Typically, the popular themes include The Badhia (a depiction of the temple of Jagannath), Krishna Lila (an enactment of Jagannath as Lord Krishna displaying his powers as a child), Dasabatara Patti (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu); and Panchamukhi (a depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity).
Now, let us see how these paintings are made.
Before painting, the artist prepares the canvas or the “patta” by coating the cloth with a mix of chalk and gum made up of tamarind seeds. This artist then rubs the mixture into the cloth using two different stones and finally dries the cloth.
Pattachitra is a disciplined form of art that usually has a set of rules and restrictions. For example, you can find floral borders in all Pattachitra paintings, and so is the use of natural colours; therefore, the pictures restrict to a single tone. This uniqueness in Odisha culture gives the typical feel to Pattachitra and thus cannot be replicated. Moreover, all the poses of the figures are limited to a few well-defined postures.
Now let us talk about the features of Pattachitra paintings.
As time passed, the art of Pattachitra underwent a praiseworthy transition, and the chitrakars have painted on palm leaves and tussar silk. These are the basic characteristics of these paintings:
Now, let us see what these paintings depict.
Originally, these paintings depict the tales of Lord Jagannath and his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. Also, they showed tales of Navagrahas and scenes from their lives. Even today, these paintings talk about folklore in the same way as they were depicted centuries ago, thus remaining unperturbed and uninfluenced by time.
Today, the Pattachitra art preserves the traditional style and motifs and shows the tales of Radha and Krishna, Lord Ganesha, and scenes from Krishna’s Leela.
Pattachitra is a traditional style of painting that has significant historical importance to India. Primarily, it showed rituals and religious beliefs of the Vaishnava sect. However, today, the same painting style is used to create artworks for home decor. Some of them include paintings, bookmarks, wall and door hangings, bags, and even artsy earrings and umbrellas. Having said that kind of creativity has never proven to be an obstacle in the
customary depiction of figures and the application of colours, which has remained intact throughout generations.
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