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 jackfruits trees and other tropical trees; nestled on the southern banks of river Bhargabi is considered a haven of Pattachitra.

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–patta painting, wooden toys, tusser silk paintings, stone carvings, etc. 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.

Another branch of the art tradition of Pattachitra that the village is renowned for is Talapatachitra. 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.

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.

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