Odisha, the land of Lord Jagannath is synonymous with the ancient art form, Pattachitra. One of the many art forms to have survived over thousand years, Pattachitra can virtually act like a historical chronicle of our country through time. Simple and rustic in appearance, you will be surprised to know that Pattachitra paintings require immense patience, intense hard work and skilled craftsmanship. Let’s share some interesting bits of information about the art that are as mind blowing as the masterpieces the art has given us.
1. A single Pattachitra painting can even take months to complete.
A single Pattachitra painting takes at least five to 15 days, while some even taking months to complete. The timing to carve one Pattachitra painting depends upon the level of intricacy and size of the paintings. However, it takes years of practice, dedication and skill for an artisan to carve a flawless and magnificent piece.
2. Original Pattachitra paintings are made from 100% natural materials.
A lot goes into preserving the original appeal of this art form, and the chitrakars of Odisha seemed to have mastered that art. What gives Pattachitra an edge over other art forms is the fact that the colours used are 100% natural and are prepared by the chitrakars using ancient methods. While white is made using conch shells, a mineral colour named hingula is used as red colour and a stone named harikala is used for yellow.
3. Pattachitra paintings are not just restricted to cloth and canvas.
The creativity of Pattachitra artists is not just limited to canvas and cloth. They celebrate the art form by painting murals on the outer walls of their houses. These paintings depict mythological scenes from the Panchatantra, the Puranas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
4. Pattachitra art is believed to be the illustrated story books of the olden days.
The main themes of Pattachitra paintings have always been inspired by Lord Jagannath and the Vaishnava sect. Many Pattachitra paintings are amazing representations of stories of Lord Jagannath and Radha-Krishna, the ten incarnations of Vishnu, episodes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and many more. So, one can imagine that much before Amar Chitra Katha, mothers were reading out stories to their children from Pattachitra paintings.
5. The best Pattchitra art work can be fund in the Raghurajpur village of Odisha.
Pattachitra paintings have an uncanny resemblance to the old murals and paintings done on the wall of religious centres in ancient Odisha. While Pattachitra art is famous all over Odisha, if you want to find the best work then head straight to Raghurajpur. Deeply driven the love and passion for the art, Pattachitra artists from this village have not just kept this art form alive through ages, but have also earned the status of heritage village for the wide and unique range of crafts practised there.
6. Pattachitra paintings are known for their floral borders.
Pattachitra is a disciplined form of art with set rules and restrictions. A floral border is a must in Pattachitra paintings, and so is the use of natural colours, restricting them to a single tone. This creates a distinct look and feel that is typical to Pattachitra and cannot be replicated!
7. Pattachitra art usually runs in the family.
Generally, Pattachitra art is practised by the entire family of chitrakars. While the women prepare the glue, the canvas and help out in filling the borders, the master painter, usually a male, draws the initial sketch and gives the final touches to the painting.
8. Over time, Pattachitra art gave birth to the Puri school of painting.
Pattachitra has largely remained uninfluenced by the other schools of Indian paintings, namely the Mughal and Pahadi styles as Odisha had remained uninvaded by the Mughals for a fairly long time, giving the art form a window to evolve its own unique styles which gave birth to the Puri school of painting.
9. Originally done mainly by men, now Pattachitra art is done by women and young girls too.
Interestingly, this ancient art form hasn’t suffered a slow death due to lack of enterprise. Chitrakars today send their children out for exposure and education apart from training them in this traditional art form to ensure that they can run their own business rather than depending on middlemen. Though mostly done by men, the art form is now being taken up full time by women and young girls.