Pattachithra – the amazing folk art of Odisha

Pattachithra is a traditional painting of Odisha, India.These paintings are based on Hindu mythology and specially inspired by Jagannath and Vaishnava sect. Pattachithra style of painting is one of the oldest and most popular art forms of Odisha. The name Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas, and chitra, meaning picture. Pattachitra is thus a painting done on canvas, and is manifested by rich colourful application, creative motifs and designs, and portrayal of simple themes, mostly mythological in depiction. The traditions of pattachitra paintings are more than thousand years old.

The themes may be classified into following categories

Jagannath paintings
Vaishnav Paintings
a)Bhagabat paintings b)Ramayana paintings

Saiva paintings
Shakta paintings
Paintings as legends
Ragachitras
Bandhachitra
Yamapati and yatripatas – (sketches of puri temple) Ganjapa playing card paintings and other socials themes on paintings.

The pattachithra when painted on cloth follows a traditional process of preparation of the canvas. First the base is prepared by coating the cloth with the soft, white, stone powder of chalk and a glue made from tamarind seeds. This gives the cloth tensile strength and a smooth, semi-absorbent surface, allowing it to accept the paint. The artist does not use a pencil or charcoal for the preliminary drawings. It is a tradition to complete the borders of the painting first. The painter then starts making a rough sketch directly with the brush using light red and yellow. The main flat colours are applied next”;” the colours used are normally white, red, yellow, and black. The painter then finishes the painting with fine stokes of black brush lines, giving the effect of pen work. When the painting is completed it is held over a charcoal fire and lacquer is applied to the surface. This makes the painting water resistant and durable, besides giving it a shining finish. The materials used in the paint are from vegetable, earth, and mineral sources. Black is made out of lampblack, yellow from haritali stone, and red from hingal stone. White is prepared from crushed, boiled, and filtered shells. The subject matter of the patachitras include religious, mythological, and folk themes. Krishna leela and Lord Jagannath are important motifs.

Palm leaf pattachitra which is in Oriya language known as Tala Pattachithra drawn on palm leaf. First of all palm leaves are left for becoming hard after being taken from tree.Then these are sewn together to form like a canvas. The images are traced by using black or white ink to fill grooves etched on rows of equal-sized panels of palm leaf that are sewn together. These panels can also be easily folded like a fan and packed in a compact pile for better conservation.Often palm-leaf illustrations are more elaborated, obtaining by superimposing layers that are glued together for most of the surface, but in some areas can open like small windows to reveal a second image under the first layer.

 

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