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Pattachitra - face to face with folklore

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Pronounced with a different name in every era…
This land is adorned with art forms in a plethora…
A state of Eastern India
A place by the Bay of Bengal
An abode of Lingaraj
The Land of Jagannath
Has a treasure of its tradition in  Pattachitra

Pattachitra is an ancient traditional art form of the eastern state of India, Orissa. The history enunciates this place with varied names and each name is significant to know the journey of this land from ancient times to the present day. This journey is also evident in the different art forms practiced in Orissa, and Pattachitra is one such art.
Pattachitra is a form of scroll painting, which is drawn on the cloth. The folktales, the Hindu mythology, stories of Lord Jagannath and the Vaishnava sect are the main themes of these paintings. In ancient times, these paintings were used in the rituals and as a memento to the pilgrims of the famous Jagannath temple of Orissa. These paintings would also serve as the visual display during the dance and drama performances and would thus be a significant part of celebration and festivities. Along with Orissa, Pattachitra is widely practiced in the state of West Bengal.
There is a popular tradition of Jagannath Temple, in which the temples are kept closed for a few days for the ritual bath of the deity. During these days, the Pattachitra of the deity was used as a substitute for their idols. Thus, this art form is used in worship and holds great spiritual significance.
The people of Orissa and West Bengal had always been opulently practicing and celebrating their art forms for centuries. As such, the Pattachitra painting can still be seen in its most authentic and ancient form. The Pattachitra artists, called Chitrakaris have preserved the intricacies of this art form. Now a days, these paintings are also drawn based on modern themes and have served in amalgamating the contemporary world with the rich ancient culture.
This art form is evolved in the early 12th century and has served as a source of livelihood to the generations of artists. The name Pattachitra is evolved from the Sanskrit word ‘patta’, which means canvas, while ‘chitra’ stands for a picture. The obligatory floral border, the sharply outlined elaborate figures and expressive postures characterizes these paintings. The rich and bright natural colors make these paintings immensely attractive. Often a complete story in the form of a set of incidences is also drawn on a single canvas. 
These paintings are traditionally drawn with natural colors on chalk-coated cloths. However, these days we can find Pattachitra on canvas, bottles, potteries, bags and even sarees. With time, this art form has received much interest and adoration in other parts of the world.
Living by the folk stories, the culture, traditions and rituals, Orissa has been offering a variety of art forms for centuries. Stone Carvings, Terracotta potteries, Silver Filigree, applique cloth work, paper mache art, Dhokra metal castings, Horn craft and whatnot. It is evident that their love for art is ever flourishing and they can carve art out of anything. However, amongst all these, Pattachitra is the most celebrated and cherished. 
Thank You!


 Have any comments or questions, please email us at info@vibrnz.com. Checkout our beginner's on-demand lessons on various Indian folk art forms.
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Pattachitra art - By Surabhi Thakur
A form of scroll painting which is drawn on the cloth. Surabhi shares her fascination for Pattachitra art through this newest blog.
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