Pattachitra from Odisha

Easy availability of Pattachitra paintings online

Easy availability of Pattachitra paintings online

The internet has revolutionized traditional trade and commerce and other communication technologies—eCommerce and mCommerce being the new buzzwords. In this context, products and services and brands have geared up fast to find a present and transact online. This has mainly extended to art products also, and Odisha’s traditional handmade art Pattachitra has also quickly adapted to make available artifacts and Pattachitra paintings online.  

 Pattachitra is one of Odisha’s most original and ethnic style paintings that has quickly found an audience worldwide due to its colorful and mythical expressions. The Pattachitra compositions’ topic is generally founded on Hindu folklore and enlivened by Jagannath culture that is prevalent around its seat of origin.

 The initial days of eCommerce saw marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy in the US they were occasionally listing select Pattachitra products in small numbers mostly carried to foreign lands by an enterprising Odia NRI community who were guided by motives of personal profits as well as an intent to popularize this slowly forgotten art form. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response from the online buyers, they tried to increase the variety and range of their stocks, slowly enhancing it to include palm leaf etchingspapier-mache masks, toys and dolls, and Patta Chitra fabrics mainly drawn over Sarees, Dupattas, and dress materials.

 However, the major obstacle in the way was the large shipping cost. Typically, it costs about $15-100 to send an international merchandise package from Odisha to the US, with other locations varying proportionately. This discouraged many enterprising smalltime traders from keeping the direct shipping limited and rather replenish their stock through their annual sojourns to Odisha.

 However, things have evolved many methods like Amazon FBA, Cash on Delivery, and Collect & Pay to ship. Now artists from small studios of Raghurajpur in Odisha, a small village where Pattachitra is said to have originated, can showcase their creations via a Facebook or Instagram page, and customers based in another continent can choose and order via Collect & Pay or Cash on Delivery directly from the artist. In the first, while a courier company can collect the merchandise at the artiste’s doorstep, paying the price while the shipping is paid by the buyer on successful delivery. Similarly, in CoD, the artist sends the package to the customer with the option to pay only if the item reaches his doorstep. In Amazon FBA, the seller lists the products on the Amazon website, which showcases it to global buyers and sends Amazon a bulk package of his creations with Amazon handling the distribution and delivery.

Things have also improved with major e-commerce firms like Flipkart and Amazon pledging their support to rural artisans by helping the in onboarding and offering listing and photography support. With their large supply chain, they enable sellers to despatch their packages right from the doorstep and collect smooth payments from customers.

With Covid-19, with all types of shopping gradually moving to digital channels, the scope of buying ethnic Odisha artifacts and Pattachitra paintings online is poised for tremendous growth in the days ahead.

However, the customer may sometimes face the question of how to ascertain the authenticity of Pattachitras I am buying online? To know more, read our earlier post: Where to buy authentic Pattachitra online?

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Where to buy authentic Pattachitra online?

Where to buy authentic Pattachitra online?

As the internet has improved communication worldwide and facilitated the growth of e-commerce, there is little that distinguishes local from global. There is an expansion of markets, and any art finds an eager audience to lap it up in every corner of the world. With the advent of the online buying process, Odisha’s ethnic art Pattachitra has widely become available online.

But one question raises its head time and again, `how to ensure the authenticity of the Pattachitra you buy online?’ To answer this, we may get some background art of Pattachitra art from Odisha.

   Pattachitra is one of Odisha’s most charming artistic expressions that has snatched the eyeballs in a few worldwide platforms. The topic of the Pattachitra compositions is generally founded on Hindu Folklore and enlivened by Jagannath Sanskruti.

The straightforward issue that Pattachitra artworks are so lively makes them pieces worth having homes, yet particularly in Indian homes. These motifs are so dug in the indigenous Indian culture that a Patta painting observes incredible social and sequential influence over numerous compositions. The brush strokes talk boisterously and gladly, exuding thrill and a romance of a bygone era.

But the sheer exuberance of colors and the mythical story-telling aspect turns them an absolute conversation starter. They can serve as attractive wall décor, table accents, or bric-a-brac of everyday use objects bringing almost instant transformation to any modern-day home.

The GI Tag related to Pattachitra is claimed by Odisha, where a little hamlet called Raghurajpur on the banks of stream Bhargavi close to Puri is a traditional home of Pattachitra artworks. Orissa’s towns are the focuses of the famous Pattachitra canvases, which have bloomed and thrived around the foci of Puri, Konark, and Bhubaneswar. The most nimble types of this living fine art delivering the most impeccably planned Pattachitras are found in this Prachi valley village.

 Points to ascertain the authenticity of Pattachitra if buying online 

So to ensure the art is authentic and buy online Pattachitra, buyers must keep the following points in mind:

*Pattachitra from Odisha owes a great deal to its ubiquity and uniqueness to this little village Raghurajpur, which mainly stays unaltered and stuck to the custom even today. So you must ensure that the seller is sourcing his merchandise from this village.

* The use of natural colors and mythological episodes are de rigor in Pattachitra art, so pay attention to the fact that these are being used to a large extent.

*Pattachitra paintings are entirely handmade, very often taking weeks to complete, the cost of raw materials and labor tend to be on the higher side. Hence it is only feasible that after keeping his/her margin, the seller’s prices seem a little costlier. If not sure, ask the seller if his products are entirely handmade.

*Another tell-tale sign would be to see if the products can be traced back during shipping to India, particularly to the state of Odisha. If yes, then it’s highly likely that they come from an original artisan.

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Odisha’s Pattachitra painting: A living, breathing Art

Odisha’s Pattachitra painting: A living, breathing Art

Traditional visual art from eastern India- the Pattachitra tradition is an integral part of intangible heritage and is an important essence of folk and traditional media. Pattachitra is, therefore, a painting done on canvas, and is manifested by rich, colorful application, creative motifs, and designs, and portrayal of simple themes, mostly mythological in depiction. The traditions of pattachitra paintings are more than a thousand years old. Most of these paintings depict stories of Hindu deities. Thus, Pattachitra forms an important and integral part of traditional and folk media from India especially represented through the Indian states of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

Materials used in Pattachitra paintings

 The colors used within the scroll paintings were always and are still mostly made from various elements from nature- e.g.Originally, apart from paper and cloth, sometimes palm-leaf manuscripts were made to paint the scrolls; however, in recent years, this has been substituted completely by the use of paper, dexterously stuck on the cloth to give it more stability and then used as a canvas for drawing.

.Since the materials and tools for the paintings are obtained from natural sources like brushes from mongoose or mouse hair, Pattachitra is a tedious process. The vivacity of the paintings can be ascribed to the enchanting natural colors used. The colors that make the art form more livid and appreciable are made by the chitrakaras (painters) using ancient color drawing techniques.

Yellow is made from turmeric or soil; Green is made from the leaves of hyacinth bean plant or the leaves of wood apple, Purple is from black plum or blackberry, Conch-shell powder or white mud gives the white color, Brown color is obtained from limestone mixed with black catechu, Red is made from vermillion, alata (a reddish or scarlet ink or dye solution used for coloring feet), or terracotta soil, Grey is obtained from the soot from earthen ovens, Blue is obtained from blue seeds- locally known as nil bori, Black is obtained from scrapping the soot off from the outside bottoms of clay pots or even burning rice and pounding it to a powder to which is added home-made glue for required consistency or by burning the roots of the velvet apple trees.

However, in recent times, just as the canvas has taken the shape of papers bought easily from the market many times, the natural colors are also substituted with easily bought acrylic and fabric paints from the market.

This is particularly prominent amidst the Pattachitra scrolls, which are taken out of the villages for displaying in various art exhibitions across the globe. Gum from wood, Apple is extracted in a coconut shell and mixed with natural colors and kept in the bright sunlight to darken. Firstly, the outlines of the painting are drawn on paper with paint and brush.

The painting process

We must understand the entire painting process is laced with divinity, and hence the practitioners follow some traditional rituals during its making. The final canvas created is off-white in color, and the master painter (usually male), also known as chitrakar, begins to paint. He has to be completely vegetarian during the time of painting; he has to sleep on the ground without a mattress and wear a new dhoti while working on the paintings. Small snapshots of these different forms, in different shapes, form the border of the painting, while the center depicts a larger representation of the characters. The pattachitra art form of Bengal is known for its bold colors, lines, and strokes.

The new resurrection of the art form

Recently, animation media picked up stories from oral traditions to make popular television shows, and folk music was explored extensively to blend with popular music for mainstream films from various regions in India- thus, Pattachitra tradition too found a new voice. In Odisha, there has been a spurt of comics book and animation series using this iconic imagery. Groups like srijamahyam have done yeomen work regarding this.

Thus, as Pattachitra from Bengal got to be displayed within New Media- especially through the personal websites of various folk artists as well as patua villages- a transformation evolved within the paradigms of local modes of entertainment- it found a voice within the global platform.

Pattachitra is one of the most alluring art forms of Odisha that has grabbed the eyeballs in several international platforms. The theme of the Pattachitra paintings are mostly based on Hindu Mythology and inspired by Jagannath Sanskruti. During the Hindu festival, Rath Yatra, when the Lord Jagannath and his siblings go on hibernation and the Pattachitra paintings of the deities are worshipped in Sri Mandir. Not just limited to clothes or canvases, but the paintings are engraved on the walls of the localities depicting the Indian mythology (The Ramayanas, Puranas, etc.) and the shrine of Lord Jagannath.

It is interesting to note how, despite a thousand years old legacy, this art keeps going strong and hums with a living, breathing energy.

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The village that makes exquisite Pattachitra paintings – By Premjit Mohapatra

The village that makes exquisite Pattachitra paintings – By Premjit Mohapatra

Orissa’s villages are the centres of the famous Pattachitra paintings which have blossomed and flourished around the religious centers of Puri, Konark, and Bhubaneswar. The most skillful exponents of this living art form producing the most exquisitely designed pattachitras are found in Raghurajpur, a small village in Puri district. This idyllic village dotted with mango, coconut and jackfruit trees, and other tropical trees; nestled on the southern banks of river Bhargabi is considered a haven of Pattachitra from Odisha.

   Located off the Bhubaneswar-Puri six-lane highway, you could easily miss the entry to the village if you speed on. There is a small signage to the left declaring its presence and you have to take a detour from the highway into a village road, passing through a crowd of shoppers, hawkers and small shops in a village market. Then the road opens up along the bank of river Bhargavi opening up vistas of coconut palm avenue and green paddy fields, and after navigating the narrow roads for a while and following the signage you arrive at the artisan village Raghurajpur.

As you enter the villages you see houses arranged in two neat rows, facing each other on either side of narrow lanes. At the centre, runs a line of small temples and total wooden interiors and traditional decors tell us that each house is an artist’s studio. This is also the only village in India, where each family is engaged in one craft or the other–pattachitra painting, wooden toys, tusser silk paintings, stone carvings, etc. This is the cradle of the aesthetically rich paintings Pattachitra from Odisha. The artisans are also known locally as chitrakars.

 Art and Crafts is integral to the people living of this village with the socio-cultural and economic lives centred around it. The knowledge of the craft and drawing skills is passed on from the one generation to another in the traditional Guru- Shishya Parampara (Teacher and student tradition), and has few Padma Bhushan or a Padma Shree awardees among them.

The village has another unique distinction as well. It is the birthplace of the famous Odishi dance legend Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, a revered proponent of the popular dance form worldwide. It was here the Guru was born in a traditional artist family, but found his passion elsewhere in dance and music and today thousands of his disciples are spread across the world. The village, its deep-rooted cultural tradition, its natural surroundings ahd a deep impact on shaping his childhood and young adult years.

Another branch of the art tradition of Pattachitra that the village is renowned for is Talapatachitra, a sub-category of Pattachitra from Odisha.Talapatachitra (tala – palm, patra – leaf, chitra – illustration) consists of inscribing letters and painting artistic designs on palm-leaf. For palm leaf pattachitra leaves are from tree and dried. They are then cut into standard sizes and held together with two wooden plank covers stringed through a hole in the center. After needle-sharp fine drawings are carefully etched and cut out, they are delicately strung together with thread. Stories of gods and goddesses besides great mythological epics are depicted with minute details in a fascinating way. The talapatachitra paintings also include natural sceneries, local legends and folklore.

     Though not exactly paintings, but imbibing the rich ethnic designs in the manufacturing of papier-mache masks of several characters from Indian mythology. These masks, made from papier-mache is prepared by making pulp of paper and organic materials like sawdust. They are then cast in traditional moulds of woods shaped with facial characteristics of a mythical figure. These are then dried in the sun for several days after which they are painted in the pattachitra style and are despatched for sale. A unique 3-D representation making alive characters from the 2-D pattachitra paintings come alive, these masks are usually used as wall décor. These could be very well made in a wearable size and used in dance performances. The PuriSahijata festival is a unique fiesta for the eyes, with wide use of these colourful masks and energetic dances depicting scene from Indian epics.

Pattachitra painting has a rich heritage and Raghurajpur has been recognized as India’s first heritage crafts village. Pattachitra paintings have found global recognition and captured the imagination of artists and art lovers worldwide. Pattachitra from Odisha owes a lot to its reputation and popularity to this small village which remains unchanged and glued to the tradition even in the modern-day.

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