Derived from the Sanskrit word Patta (canvas) and Chitra (painting), Patachitra of Odisha originated in the 12th century. The Patachitra of Raghurajpur uses combination of pleasant colour layout and well-integrated fine lines. The paintings reflect diverse hues of deities Jagannath, Balaram, Subhadra and Jagannath Temple as the theme of their paintings. Later on the artists improvised on themes like Krishna Leela, Raas Leela, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Ganesha etc. In order to cater to the present market the artists have started painting on themes like Buddha and The Tree of life. According to the artists the tradition of Patachitra painting is linked with the Jagannath tradition of Odisha. According to the Hindu mythology Lord Brahma – the generator of the universe drew the figures of Lord Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra on a piece of cloth with charcoal. It is since then the Patachitra artists of Odisha use cloth as their canvas.
The colours used are bright white, red, yellow, blue, green and black and are prepared from natural ingredients. White is prepared from powder of conch-shell, yellow from Haritala (a kind of stone), red from Geru (red oxide stone) or Hingula and black from burning lamp and coconut shell, blue from Khandaneel. Natural gum of wood apple called ‘kaitha’ is mixed with the colors along with water in coconut shells while painting to ensure their fastness. It was noticed that the artists are rarely using natural colours these days because the process of making natural colours is time consuming and the raw materials required are expensive. The artists use buffalo hair to make brushes for the thick lines while rat or squirrel hair is used for making brushes meant for finer line work.
The extraordinary detailing of the subjects painted with intricate lines by handmade brushes is one of the specialties of Odisha Patachitra.
The artists have their own way of making canvas which are made of cotton clothes but looks like paper after finishing. At the beginning, a strip of cotton cloth is soaked in water which is filled with tamarind seeds. Later on another two layers cotton cloths are added one after another. After drying it in the Sun the artist then adds a coat of chalk and gum and put it under the Sun again to dry. He then rubs the canvas with stones so that it gets a glossy finish and a smooth surface.
There are 140 households in Raghurajpur and more than 350 artists practice Patachitra. The village is home to 7 National Award winners and more than 10 State Awardees. The community is well aware o....
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