Sunday, September 06th, 2009 | Author:

The root of the Patachitra paintings was in the 8th century AD and it is regarded as one of the earliest forms of home-grown paintings. This symbolic form of folk significance is exclusive in the history of Indian and European paintings. The unlikely illustrative ideas, the peculiar conventions, the astonishing arrangement of line patterns and vivacious application of colors make this art form stupendous.

The foundation and growth of Patachitra paintings are associated with the Jagannath Cult. The devotional art of Patachitras is limited to the community of painters called the Chitrakars. The chitrakars reside and perform their inherited art in Puri and in villages on its borders, Raghurajpur and Dandshahi. Every Chitrakar family possesses a family sketchbook handed down from their ancestors. Gods and Goddesses, legends and animals, are all portrayed in these sketchbooks. These books are the chitrakars’ most precious belongings.

The process of arranging the canvas (Pata) is time-consuming, generally taking at least five days. It includes the preparation of a tamarind seed paste, which is mixed with water in a mud pot and focused to additional action. It is called the ‘Niryas Kalpa’. The chitrakar then chooses two pieces of cloth and attaches them together with this paste. Clay powder is then added to the combination and two or three coatings of this blend is applied on to the organized canvas on both the surfaces. When the canvas is dry, it is polished, a process that takes quite a few hours. Painting can begin only when it’s dry.

Patachitras are usually painted in a regular series of steps. The present practice is to put a thick coat of varnish with a cloth. Once the varnish dries, the Patachitra is trimmed down to the attractive margin. The standard painting is finished in a week. But there are complex ones that take maybe even a month.

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