Pattachitra – The Traditional Art Of India
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Painting is one of the richest forms of visual communication. It creates a visual communication with the language of common understanding.
Pattachitra is the traditional form of art that depicts the stories of Hindu deities like Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. The Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit word “Patta” which means canvas and “Chitra” which means picture. Pattachitra is done on canvas with original natural colours which depicts rich, colourful, and creative illustrations with simple themes. The painters of Pattachitra are called Chitrakars. The art of Pattachitra started thousands of years ago. The traditional design of artwork drives the attention of traditional media and folks. It takes 2 to 3 months for making a Pattachitra. A simple Pattachitra takes at least 15 days.
History of Pattachitra
The art of Pattachitra started thousands of years ago. Pattachitra is the traditional heritage of eastern India. The art of Pattachitra is mostly found in eastern states of India i.e., Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha. The art is made from simple bright natural colours. The devotees of Lord Jagannath used to buy Pattachitra from the “Bada Danda” of Puri to remember their visit to Lord Jagannath. Nowadays with the evolution of the digital camera, the art of Pattachitra is decreasing day by day.
In ancient times, art is practiced by the entire family of chitrakars. The women used to prepare the glue, make the canvas, and also help out in filling the borders while the males are the master painter who draws the initial sketch and gives the final touches to the paintings. The art has remained uninfluenced by other schools of Indian Paintings i.e., Mughal and Pahadi Styles as Odisha had remained uninvaded by the Mughals for a long period which provides the art to evolve with its unique styles.
How a Pattachitra is made
The designers of Pattachitra are called Chitrakar. Chitrakar makes canvas using old cotton sarees. Chitrakar takes 3 old sarees and pastes them one over the other using glue made from tamarind seeds. The gum is made from the Kaitha tree. Then the sarees are pasted one above the another. Then it is kept in sunlight. The canvas is then polished using white stone powder and glue. The canvas is then painted using natural colours. There are 5 colours ie. white, red, yellow, blue and black. The white colour is made from chalk dust. The yellow colour is made from Pauri. The blue colour is made from cultivated Indigo. The black colour is made from bhushakali. The red colour is made from mete sindur. The other colours are made from these five colours. A minimum of 15 days is required for making a Pattachitra. Some Pattachitras may take 2 to 3 months to complete. Pattachitras is very bright with the best illustrations of Indian Deities.
Pattachitra is a disciplined art with certain rules and regulations. The rules and regulations for making a pattachitra are as follows:
- A floral border is used around the paintings.
- The painting should be done with the use of natural colours.
- A single tone of colour should be used.
- The paintings should be simple with elongated eyes.
The pattachitra painting depicts stark emotional expression with great details. After the painting is completed, the canvas painting is held over a charcoal fire and then the lacquer is applied to the surface of the painting to preserve the colour
Pattachitra In Odisha
The Pattachitra is most famous in Odisha and the art resembles Lord Jagannath or Vishnu. The popular themes of religious art in Pattachitra are the Badhia, Krishna Lila, Dasabatara Patti, and Panchamukhi. Every year during the auspicious occasion of Debasnana Purnima in Puri, the three deities of Jagannath Temple ie. Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra take bath with 108 pots of cold water to fight from the heat of summer. Then the deities fall sick for 15 days known as ‘Anasara.’ Because of the deities’ absence from public view, the finest Chitrakars are gathered to make three Pattachitra paintings of Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra to worship in place of the idols. These paintings are called ‘Anasara Patti’.
Evolution of Pattachitra:
Nowadays the art form has evolved and has experienced discernible changes. The Chitrakars showed their creativity by painting on palm leaves and tussar silk. The art of pattachitra is now internationally known and is most appreciated.
To preserve traditional art, the Government of India has now started the Puri school of painting which provides teachings of Pattachitras to future generations.