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    Pattachitra paintings

    Pattachitra paintings

    Introduction of the Pattachitra Painting style:

    Pattachitra paintings are a special kind of art style that is done on a special canvas, and one of the layers of the process is cotton sarees being covered with tamarind paste and then coated with powder made of clay. It is also a general term that is used for traditional cloth-based painting, owing to its terminology, patta meaning cloth and Chitra meaning picture. It is known for its beautiful and intricate details, as well as the mythological narratives and inscription of multiple folktales and cultural tales that are shown through it.  

    Details and History of Pattachitra paintings:

    These are known to be traditional paintings of Odisha, India, and are heavily inspired by mythology and sects like Jagganath and Vaishnava. Lord Jagganath was known to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna. A lot of the scenes that were depicted were central to temple activities, the different ‘Vesas’ of Jagganath, and Radha-Krishna. Some other themes were the ten incarnations of Vishnu, the Ramayana, and Mahabharatha. It can be divided into three categories, from the point of view of what medium it is designed on. These are, painting on cloth, which are called ‘Patta Chitra’, paintings that are done on the walls, named ‘Bhitti Chitra’, and lastly the ‘Tala Patra Chitra’ that is done of palm leaves.

    Most of the style and work done on these remain specific, resembling the old murals of the state, especially those from religious locations of Konark, Puri, and Bhubaneswar, that dated back to the 5th Century, BC. The subject matter, primarily mythological, and inspired by folklore, are a mixture of both classical and folk art forms. The deities were depicted in their traditional forms, but a lot of influence from the Mughals was also observed in the depiction of their dressing styles. They were shown in perfect forms, multiple poses, and well-defined postures. The lines that were used to draw desired patterns are clean and bold, with angular, sharp detailing. These paintings do not include many depictions of landscapes or distant views, but more specific ones. 

    The oldest records of the Pattachitra paintings go back to the time when the Shri Jagganath temple and shrine were established at Puri. This is also because paintings, unlike sculptures, do not survive, and withstand harsh factors, owing to the fact that they are perishable. The evidence of the paintings inside the Jagganath shrines makes the dates probable. This is done on canvases and is defined by the application of rich colours that are used to fill in the motifs, creative designs, and portrayal of the many themes, and mythological depictions through the art form. The older, traditional versions of the painting style still survive in locations like Sonepur, Raguraphur, Puri, etc. The colour schemes for the deities in the paintings are similar to those of the Patta style. Pattachitra paintings, at one point, were known to substitute for deities, idols, and sculptures, for worship when the temple doors were closed or shut for the ‘ritual’ bath of the deity.

    Techniques for creating Pattachitra paintings:

    The painters that indulge in the art form are known as ‘chitrakars’. The women prepare the glues and canvas requirements for the art, after which they tend to the colours required to fill in the drawn design, after which they are appointed to give the final coat of lacquer to the completed result. The master hand, or artist, is usually a male member of the family and is appointed the task of drawing the initial lines and completing the final finishing of the work. The Pattachitra painting is done with small strips of cloth made of cotton, and the canvas is prepared by coating the cloth in use with a mixture of gum and chalk. The gum used is made from Guar, or tamarind seeds, and is later rubbed by using two different stones once the cloth is dried.  This concoction of gum and cloth helps give the surface of the cloth a finish and result which is leathery, and the artists then paint on this base with stone, vegetable, or earth colors. 

    Pencil or charcoal substances are not used for the preliminary drawings that are done by the artists, who are so good and experienced at their profession, that they draw the desired products simply and directly from the brush, with either light yellow or light red hues. Once this outline is completed, they are filled in with colours, and coated with lacquer on the surface, to protect it from surface factors or bad weather. This process gives the painting a glaze or varnishing, after which it is held over a fireplace, exposing the back of it to the heat produced. The natural colours used are of 5 types- Hingula, Karitala, Kala, Geru, and Sankha. Some typical scenes are used for these paintings, and specific figures like elephants, gopis, flowers, and trees. Krishna is always painted using shades of blue, while gopi’s are coloured in light pink or brown hues. Vegetable and mineral colors, that are not factory-made, are used, and these colours are prepared by the artisans themselves. 

    Shades of white are made using conch shells when powdered and then boiled and filtered, which is very time-consuming but gives a brilliant depth to the color. Hingula is used for red, and Haritala is the main ingredient for the yellow colors. Indigo is made by using Ramaraja, and pure lamp-black or black is prepared by burning coconut shells. The shades used in Pattachitra paintings are primarily bright, for example, yellow, red, indigo, and the brushes that are used by the artisans are made from the hair and fibers of domestic animals. 

    iTokri and Pattachitra paintings: 

    Pattachitra is used for diversified products like sarees, cloth pieces, umbrellas, home decor, stationery items, and jewelry among other things, and is also characterized by the visibility of Pattachitra motifs. They are used as souvenirs for pilgrims that visit Puri, and other temples and holy places in the state of Odisha. iTokri houses some decorative items made using these patterns, such as the Traditional Pattachitra Painted Kettle, which could be practical, as well as used for decorative purposes. The website also has some ‘Masala’ boxes, handmade papers, and painted steel casseroles, among some more variety. 

    Facts about Pattachitra Paintings:

    It all started with Palm leaves: The tradition of Pattachitra paintings started with paintings on palm leaves. The initial representation of the art was done on the palm leaves, and some of them were also used as bases for manuscript writings. Palm leaves were a safe option as they were durable, and proved to be the same as the paintings that were preserved for centuries.  Many historians found depictions in the style of Pattachitra on ages palm leaves. 

    The 2 states connect: The hub of Pattachitra is not one, but 2 Indian states; Odisha and West Bengal. Both the states have different styles of the art, as well as unique motifs that are representative of their area. Bengal Patachitra is the Pattachitra that is registered for West Bengal, while Odisha Pattachitra is that of Odisha. 

    Lord Jaggantha’s influence: All the paintings of this art form are in some way related to lord Jagganath. The paintings depict stories, folktales, religious stories and even mythology, which was done on bases like cloth and canvases. There are hints of both classical and folk elements and details. 

    All natural colors: The dyes and paints that are used for the paintings are made naturally, and are known to be natural colors and dyes. The artisans make the colors themselves, using products and ingredients that they can procure themselves. For example, red and crimson is made from flowers, while the color yellow is made using turmeric. 

    It’s a craft with a lineage: The craft from and craftsmanship, the learnings and the skills of Pattachitra are usually passed down from generation to generation in an artisan family. A family that work with this art, usually has a task assigned for each of the members, for example, the women of the household help with the glue and the making of the canvases, while the master painter, who is usually male, draws the initial designs and sketches as well as works towards completing the paintings. 

    FAQS

    • What are Pattachitra paintings?

    Pattachitra paintings are a special kind of art style that is done on a special canvas, and one of the layers of the process is cotton sarees being covered with tamarind paste and then coated with powder made of clay. It is also a general term that is used for traditional cloth-based painting, owing to its terminology, patta meaning cloth and Chitra meaning picture.

    • What is the main inspiration for Pattachitra paintings? 

    These are the traditional paintings of Odisha, India, and are heavily inspired by mythology and sects like Jagganath and Vaishnava. Lord Jagganath was known to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna. A lot of the scenes that were depicted were central to temple activities, the different ‘Vesas’ of Jagganath, and Radha-Krishna, among others. 

    • What are the 5 types of natural colours used for Pattachitra? 

     The natural colours used are of 5 types- Hingula, Karitala, Kala, Geru, and Sankha.

    • Are Pattachitra products available on iTokri?

    iTokri houses some decorative items made using these patterns, such as theTraditionalPattachitra Painted Kettle, which could be practical, as well as used for decorative purposes. The website also has some ‘Masala’ boxes, handmade papers, and painted steel casseroles, among some more variety. 








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