Pattachitra: Weaving through pictures

History Pattachitra
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. Painting

Art Process
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.

Present Day
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 trandormation 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!Register now!

Warli Art: Life in Paintings

Warli Art

Life in Warli

Warli art is practiced by the people residing near the forest area of Dahanu and Talaseri district of Maharashtra. It is believed that this tribal art depicts the relationship of an artist with the various determinants of life like traditions, rituals, family and livelihood. A combination of stories, myths, realities, humour, etc., Warli depicts the rustic tribal life. The wall paintings use a very basic geometrical vocabulary: a circle, a triangle and a square, all of which represents natural elements such as sun, moon, mountains, pointed trees and a piece of land. Traditionally these paintings were made by women to decorate the walls of their houses during festive occasions like marriages or harvests. With time, the art has evolved. The artists have now started illustrating Warli on paper, clay pots, clothes, etc. to renew the spirit of story interpretations of their ancestral art. Warli artists such as Shantaram Tumbada and Jivya Soma Mashe have also taken this art to international platforms with their creations such as ‘Evolution of Wheel’ or ‘The Ant’. The ability to absorb regional, national and now, global influences along with novelty of its representation medium, makes it a dynamic and evolving form of art. 

Here is glimpse into the art, by the students of NID. This weekend join us and learn this art form to create your own story. 

Behind the Mother Goddess 

Mata Ni Pachedi, or “behind the Goddess”, refers to an offering made to the Deity. Long time ago, Chitaris created cloth-paintings which were used as Shrines for worship. It was believed that when the Goddess blessed, an offering would be made to her to express gratitude. As time has evolved, so has the art. India is home to a culture of worship and the many stories associated with it. Art, initially used to express these stories has now become a piece of tradition that continues but without as much fanfare.  Contemporary initiative have led the artists to illustrate on paper and create many stories using the popular motifs. If you think this is similar to the Kalamkari paintings – true, the technique is largely the same- but the intent, stories and motifs are entirely different !  While a pioneering artist Jagdish Chitari has contributed artwork to Tara Books’ “The Great Race” or BlueTokai’s coffee packaging, a lot remains to be experimented with.  It is this journey of exploration that makes the art to addictive, and so endearing. Join us at the workshop, and indulge yourselves 🙂

An insight into the art, by the students of NIFT (Fashion Communication).

Scroll-Stories I : Phad

The vibrant multitude of traditional Indian art has, over a period, managed to transcend regional boundaries to earn acclaim both within the country as well as worldwide. That Rajasthan is a storehouse of this carefully preserved and laboriously nurtured art is hardly a matter to be second-guessed, being home to popular forms like phad, pichwai and miniature painting. Phad paintings in particular form an integral part of Rajasthani folk culture. Named after ‘phad’, which refers to a long piece of cloth on which the painting is created, each painting represents a visual narrative of epic folktales, and is often accompanied by songs rendered by Rajasthani priest singers called bhopas.

Many artists have devoted their lives to ensure that the unique and invaluable phad painting gets its fair share of recognition in the world of art, while striving to retain its traditional aspects.

A traditional Shahpura phad painting is created on handmade khadi cloth usually 5×16 feet or 5×30 feet, depending upon the subject matter to be depicted, although cotton, khadi silk and even canvas is used by artists these days. “All the products and techniques that we use for painting are homemade. The colours, too, are natural, prepared usually from stone,” says Vijay Joshi, an artist. The colour scheme, where red is the dominant colour with hints of yellow and green, was determined by Joshi’s ancestors many years ago in tandem with the personality and appearance of characters as described in ancient texts, and remains to be in use even now. Right from preparing the cloth and the colours to its completion, creating a phad painting is a highly conscientious process, entailing well-evolved aesthetic sensibilities, careful attention to detail, a rock-steady hand, and most importantly, oodles of patience.

This season of Art Pitara brings you the popular scroll stories of India : Phad, Patua…Santhal!

So unleash the creative side of you, and get started!


Kalamkari : An age-old tradition beckons…

Painted using vegetable colors and natural dyes, Kalamkari artworks often tell mythical stories. The practice of this art began during Sri Krishnadevaraya period, where rulers used Kalamkari for drafting important communication, and messaging. Since the ancient period, the art has been practiced traditionally by the skilled craftsman maintaining their own distinct significance.

Kalamkari, has always fascinated the young and old alike.

This winter, at the Art Pitara series, we bring to you an opportunity to make your own Kalamkari painting – indeed, a true piece of heritage.

Register soon!

Soara Art [14 – 16 June 2014]

The Soara art uses a lot of motifs to depict the animals, houses, people and the various activities which the Soara tribal people perform – such as hunting, farming, and largely their celebrations! This workshop had artist Sebati Swain encapsulate all of that into a 3-day learning experience for the participants.

Participants worked on Tussar silk and learnt how to make borders, houses, and animals. As they learnt the basics of this art form, they were able to create their own narrative and stories which they would want to represent.

The experience left them even more appreciative of the art, and one of the participants vowed never to bargain when buying these precious pieces of art!

To view the Art Pitara Gallery, click here.


Leather Puppets [11 – 13 June 2014]

This workshop began with the noted artist Gunduraju showcasing some of the oldest puppets from his collection and slowly moving on to contemporary ones. The difference between the two was a world apart. While the older ones were made of deer-skin leather, the new ones are made of Goat-leather. The leather used however is treated and is almost like hard, transparent paper. In earlier times, the colors too were natural, but now the artists use Camlin Drawing Inks!

This of course lends flexibility to puppeteers like Gunduraju for who performances are becoming fewer and fewer, and leather based products are taking the forefront.

During the workshop, participants of all ages, chose a puppet they would make, separated its limbs and using the shapes, cut out a new piece for themselves.

Participants experimented with different colors and created various puppets in different sizes! They even learnt how to use the tools for creating the different holes [straight, round, etc] and by the end of the workshop, they could move their own puppets!

To view the Art Pitara Gallery, click here.

Kaavad: A collage of images [5 – 8 June 2014]

The storyteller and the art of storytelling has become remote and distant. The four day Kaavad workshop, helped in bringing this remote past into the present. The participants got a glimpse of a world full of mythical heroes, gods, and the world of folk tales and epics.

With each door unfolding a scene from the narrative and adding to the mystery of the story, the participants learnt the various ways in which they could sequence their stories on the box, and can keep their audiences engrossed while narrating the tale. It was almost like creating a graphic novel on wood and have it come alive as each door opened!

While some of the participants created their own story boxes inspiring even the artist to try purple and pink coloured boxes, others preferred to stick to tradition and painted the story of Mahabharata/Panchatantra on brightly coloured yellow and red boxes!

To view Art Pitara Gallery, click here.