September 18, 2021

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Pattachitra: A general term for traditional, cloth-based scroll painting

Pattachitra: A general term for traditional, cloth-based scroll painting

Pattachitra sort of painting is one among the oldest and hottest arts of Odisha.

The name Pattachitra is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘patta’ and ‘chitra’, which respectively mean canvas and picture.

Thus, Pattachitra is a painting done on canvas, mostly mythological depiction.

Paintings in this style are characterized by colorful motifs and simple themes.


Patachitra or Pattachitra a general term

Patachitra or Pattachitra may be a general term for traditional, cloth-based scroll painting, based within the eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal.

Patachitra artform is understood for its intricate details also as mythological narratives and folktales inscribed in it.

Pattachitra an artwork of Odisha

Pattachitra is one among the traditional artworks of Odisha, originally created for ritual use and as souvenirs for pilgrims to Puri, also as other temples in Odisha.

Patachitras are a component of an ancient Bengali narrative art, originally serving as a clear device during the performance of a song.

Theme of Odia painting


The theme of Odia painting centres around the Jagannath and therefore the Vaishnava sect.

Since beginning of Pattachitra culture, Lord Jagannath who was an incarnation of Lord Krishna has been the main source of inspiration.

The subject matter of Patta Chitra is usually mythological, religious stories and folk lore.

Themes are chiefly on Lord Jagannath and Radha-Krishna

Themes are chiefly on Lord Jagannath and Radha-Krishna, different “Vesas” of Shri Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, temple activities, the ten incarnations of Vishnu basing on the ‘Gita Govinda’ of Jayadev, Kama Kujara Navagunjara, Ramayana, Mahabharata.

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The individual paintings of gods and goddesses also are being painted.

Mixture of both folk and classical elements


The Pattachitra style are mixture of both folk and classical elements but leanings more towards folk forms.

The dress style has Mughal influences.

All of the poses are confined to a couple of well-defined postures.

These aren’t free from monotonous repetitions, though sometimes this is often necessary to intensify the narrative character of the design.

The lines are bold and clean and angular and sharp.

Typically painted in red colour

Generally, there are not any landscapes, perspectives, and distant views. All the incidents are seen in close juxtaposition.

The background on which the figures are represented, is delineated with decorations of flowers and foliages and is typically painted in red colour.

All the paintings are given decorative borders. The whole painting is conceived within the sort of a design on a given canvas.

Painters are known as chitrakars

Traditionally the painters are known as chitrakars.

A patta painter’s home with all the members of family is his studio.

Woman members prepare the glue, the canvas and apply colours what we call the fill-in, and provides the ultimate lacquer coating.

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The master hand, mostly the male member, draws the initial line and provides the ultimate finishing.

Patta paintings are done on small strips of cotton.

The canvas is ready by coating the clothing with a mix of chalk and gum made up of tamarind seeds.

Then it’s rubbed by taking the assistance of two different stones then the material is dried.

The mixture of gum and chalk gives the cloth’s surface a leathery finish on which the artists paint with vegetable, earth and stone colours.

Painters don’t use pencil or charcoal


The painters don’t use pencil or charcoal for the preliminary drawings.

They are so expert within the line that they simply draw directly with the comb either in light red or yellow.

Then the colours are filled in. The final lines are drawn and therefore the patta is given a lacquer coating to guard it from weather, thus making the painting glossy.

This process of glazing or varnishing is sort of interesting.

The painting is held over a hearth in order that the rear of the painting is exposed to heat.

On the surface of the painting fine lacquer is applied.

Painters use vegetable and mineral colours


The painters use vegetable and mineral colours without going for factory-made poster colours.

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They prepare their own colours.White colour is formed from the conch-shells by powdering, boiling and filtering during a very hazardous process.

It requires a lot of patience. But this process gives brilliance and premanence to the hue.

‘Hingula’, a mineral colour, is employed for red. ‘Haritala’, king of stone ingredients for yellow, ‘Ramaraja’ a kind of indigo for blue are getting used.

Pure lamp-black or black prepared from the burning of coconut shells are used.

There was no blue either cobalt or ultramarine within the earlier colour schemes.

The colours utilized within the Patta paintings are primarily bright colours, limited to red, yellow, indigo, black and white.

The brushes that are employed by these ‘Chitrakaras’ also are indigenous and are made from hair of livestock.

A bunch of hair tied to the top of a bamboo stick make the comb.

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