Pattachitra: tale of time told by scrolled paintings

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One of the oldest and most well-known art forms is the Pattachitra style of painting, which is mostly done in West Bengal and Odisha. The Sanskrit words “patta,” which means cloth, and “chitra,” which means picture, have combined to form the name Pattachitra. One of the oldest and most well-known living art forms, it is believed to have its roots as far back as the 12th century at the Jagannath temple in Puri. Jagannath temple has been a center of Orissan art and culture.

Pattachitra makes scroll paintings on canvas with vibrant colour applications, unique motifs such as fleur and foliage and designs, and the representation of a candid theme that is typically mythical in nature. The vast majority of these artworks depict myths about Hindu deities and Hindu festivals such as Diwali, Naagpanchmi and Ahoi Ashtami. Pattachitra is reminiscent of the ancient murals in Odisha, especially those in the 5th century BC sacred sites of Puri.

The Hindu mythology served as the primary inspiration for the icon paintings created by the Pattachitra artists, commonly referred to as chitrakars or kalakaar. Pattachitra is a structured form of art that has a number of plans and limitations. Pattachitra paintings must have a floral border and one must only apply natural colours that are limited to a single tone. This results in a distinctive appearance and sensation that are unique to Pattachitra and cannot be imitated. Natural materials like china clay, soft clay or chalk, conch shell, red stone, yellow-brown ochre, and others are used to create folk art colours. Seashells, which are widely available on Orissan beaches, are used by the artist to represent white.

The art for Pattachitra paintings is not merely fabric, palm leaves, or silk, anymore. It is currently done on saris, handbags, wall hangings, and even showpieces. Pattachitra’s story tells have been spread beyond South India and now can be found in western countries.

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