Chittra: A Poetry in Colours
If you feel that
only the sprawling golden beaches and the monumental temples make
Odissa one of the most beautiful Indian states , then you could
be wrong. It is also the land
of one of the most exquisite painting forms - " The Patta
The word "Patta"
originates from the Sanskrit language which means "Vashtra/Canvas/Cloth"
and "Chittra" stands for "Picture". This art
form has the finest of characterization and is a mélange of mythological
themes mostly comprising stories from the Mahabharata, Ramayana
and legends concerning Krishna, Radha and Lord Jagannath.
History reveals that the Patta paintings revolve around the cult
of Lord Jagannath, even being considered to be as old as the construction
of the JagannathTemple in Puri somewhere during the 12th Century
A.D. These paintings were made by the traditional Chitrakaras (Painters)
who used to observe a strict ritual during their assignment. They
had to follow high degree of austerities (e.g; women were not allowed
to touch the painting/s). The Chitrakara had to be a strict vegetarian
during the course of the painting, ought to sleep on the bare ground
and also had to donne a new dhoti (a long yard of cloth for men)
during that period every day. After the painting was completed,
a Mahasnana (Grand Bath) used to be arranged with chanting of mantras
(holy chants). Then the paintings were placed in front of the deity
along with other offerings. Later these paintings were preserved
at the store of the temple.
The `patta', is an indigenously-prepared canvas made of old
cotton clothing. The brushes are homemade and are from the buffalo
or calf or the mouse hairs. The colours are prepared from vegetable
or mineral extracts. The colours used for these paintings are bright
and primarily white, red, yellow, blue, green and black. The red
colour is used predominently for the back ground. The uniqueness
of this painting lies in its overall finesse and also the intricate
decorative borders drawn on all sides of the central theme to give
it a frame like look.
"Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life."
Raghurajpur, a picturesque village on the banks of the river Bhargavi,
around 12 kilometres from Puri very well defines this quote. This
village is anything but ordinary. Painting is a way of life here
and everyone is an artist practising one or more of nine art forms
- `Patta chitra', `Matha chitra' (painting on tussar silk
fabric), Wood carving, Stone sculpture, Paper masks, Cow dung toys,
Coconut painting,`Talapatra chitra' (painting on palm leaf),
and `Ganjappa' or playing cards. But it is definitely "Patta
Chittra' that has brought Raghurajpur, the national and international
pride and honour.
With changing times, Patta Chittra has broken the shackles
of austerities and filtered into every walks of life. I have been
following this art form for quite some time. It gives me a recluse
from idiosyncrasies of life and helps me find out the much needed
sanctity and peace. Kudos to this divinely elegant craft and hope
to see it grow further in leaps and bounds.
Writer Priya Naresh Kumar - I am passionate
about writing. I work for an MNC as a Business Controls Analyst.
I am based in Singapore. Enjoy reading.