Pattachitra, an art form that evolved in the state of Odisha around the time the temple of Lord Jagannath was constructed in the 12th century AD, is the mainstay of a number of artists in the district of Raghurajpur. The tradition and profession of making Pattachitra paintings has been handed down among families from generation to generation and remains one of the most popular art forms of Odisha.
The word ‘Pattachitra’ is a Sanskrit term that translates to ‘painting on canvas’. However, the process of creating this particular art form is far more specific. Predominantly icon paintings, the popular themes of Pattachitra are 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). Like most indigenous art forms, borders are an integral part of Pattachitra and consist of three or four panels, depending upon the size of the painting.
Artists create their own canvas and their paint from various natural products. The canvas or the patta is prepared by chitrakars by soaking tamarind seeds in waterfor about three days after which they are crushed, dried and heated. The resultant paste is used to hold two pieces of cloth together. It is then coated with powdered clay stone and finally polished to make the surface smooth and leathery. Artists also make their own brushes through the use of the root of the Keya plant.
The next step is preparing the paints. The key ingredientused by chitrakars is the gum of the Kaitha tree, which is mixed with other natural pigments to create a multitude of colours. These include powdered conch shells for white and the residue of oil lamps for black.
Artists, or chitrakars, use specific motifs, symbols and colours, in different combinations to convey the most diverse emotions. Traditional Pattachitra artists do not deviate from colour tones and expressions that have been handed down for centuries. This is not to say that the art form hasn’t evolved. Chitrakars have diversified their medium of expression to sustain the art form. They often use palm leaves, tussar silk and other easily accessible materials as their canvas to ensure that Pattachitra doesn’t become an extinct part of our history but rather remains living history.
Experience this art on 17th and 18th December and be a part of Pattachitra Art Workshop at Crafts Museum. Indulge yourselves only at Art Pitara! Register now!