Patta Chitra

Miniature paintings which are called patta chitras.The patachitras of Orissa are icon paintings that include the wall paintings. The subject matter of Patta paintings is limited to religious themes. The stories of Rama and Krishna are usually depicted on the pattas. "Rasa Lila", "Vastra Haran", "Kaliya Dalan" are some of the recurring themes of Patta art. Just 70km away, on the sea coast lies Puri, a temple and beach town that shares and mirrors some of Bhubaneswar’s arts and crafts, even as it nurtures arts and crafts that are uniquely its own. In the famous exquisitely carved Jagannath temple, an annual ritual has given birth to a treasured art form. The word patachitra is reclaimed from the Sanskrit word pata, usually means a cloth piece, Chitra means painting or picture. Lot of craftsmen skill and hard labor is required to execute fine patachitra.The patachitra 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 glue made fromtamarind 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 colors are applied next; the colors 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. Since olden times, pilgrims to Puri have been carrying home the colourful patas or patachitras as precious mementos- just as they carry back Ganga jal (water from the holy Ganges) form Haridwar. The patas from Puri are sought after by tourists and art lovers both in India and abroad. The chitrakars live and practice their hereditary art in Puri and in two villages on its outskirts-Raghurajpur and Dandshahi. The village of Raghurajpur is where many chitrakars live in an area dedicated to them called Chitrakar Sahe. Patachitra paintings were traditionally drawn by the mahapatras or maharanas, the original artiste caste in Orissa. Gods and Goddesses, the lilas (fanciful but allegorical activities) of Lord Krishna, legends and animals, are all depicted in the sketchbooks. These books are the chitrakars most valuable possessions and are worshipped along with the family gods. Besides pata paintings, the chitrakars also make unique, circular playing cards known as ganjifa which are popular in villages all over Orissa.

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