Exploring the Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha



Odisha, one of the oldest states, is a region of temples with a long history. It boasts a rich culture and is one of the country’s oldest civilizations. It is also mentioned in Indian epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and is notable for being the location where King Ashoka began to practise and preach Buddhism. Odisha is also thought to be the first state where our Aryan forefathers lived and were known as Odras, after whom the state was named.

With its historical monuments, archaeological sites, indigenous arts, sculpture, dance, and music, the region is a cultural treasure trove. Odisha has attracted a great number of intellectuals, artists, and visitors from the beginning of time. It is a land of skill, craftsmanship, and local folklore, to name a few things. The streets are a riot of colour. Whether it’s Bhubaneswar’s street art or the art created by tribals in front of their brightly coloured homes, there’s something for everyone. As one of India’s most popular tourist destinations, Odisha’s craft and art forms are among the most popular things to see and do.

Explore the vibrant world of folk art forms of Odisha through our insightful blog. Immerse yourself in the intricate details and cultural richness of these traditional expressions, from Pattachitra to Gotipua dance. Discover the heart and soul of Odisha’s artistic heritage in our latest article.

1. Odisha Pattachitra

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Pattachitra
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Pattachitra is an ancient and popular art form in Odisha. Pattachitra is a combination of the words ‘Patta’ (cloth/canvas) and ‘Chitra’ (image), as the name suggests. This kind of Orissan art, which combines naturally extracted vivid colors, has a deep connection to Puri’s temple traditions. The craftspeople, known as ‘Chitrakars,’ are mostly from Raghurajpur, one of Puri’s smaller villages. The Pattachitra Chitrakars’ most popular artwork topics focus around numerous Hindu Gods and legends. Lord Jagannath and Lord Ganesha appear in many different forms.

2. Talapatra

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Talapatra
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Have you ever heard of manuscripts being written on palm leaves? ‘Taali Oolas,’ or palm-leaf manuscripts, have been a part of Indian tradition since the dawn of time. Another contemporary art form in Orissa is binding palm leaves together and carving out various epics from Indian mythology. Tala Patra, a variant of Pattachitra, is a fascinating storytelling technique utilized by Orissa’s ‘Chitrakars.’ This is something that artisans in Raghurajpur village, Puri, do as well. These artists craft a universe of tales on palm leaves, from elaborate wall hangings to charming bookmarks.

3. Handloom Textile

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Handloom Textile
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Odisha’s handlooms have ushered in magnificent textiles that are spectacular in their own right. They are, nevertheless, long-lasting and cost-effective. In tassar silk, the expertise of the weavers has reached sylvan heights. In truth, the tassar cooperatives make the highest quality yarn, whose brightness, shine, and texture attest to its appeal. 

The fabrics have their own distinct personality. They include bold and exotic designs, a colorful yet delicate color palette, unique tie and dye effects, and a luxurious feel. The state is known for its silk ikat weaves, which are produced on the loom using a complicated method (bandha) in which wrap and weft threads are first connected and then dyed to make the intended pattern.

Rows of birds, animals, fish, seashells, rudraksh beads, and temple spires are common design themes. The saree is Odisha’s most famous and well-known tie and dye cloth. Khanduas, Saktapada, Tarabali, and Bichitrapuri, to mention a few, are traditional Odisha sarees composed of cotton and silk. Other goods woven by the weavers include bed coverings, clothing materials, handkerchiefs, lungis, and gamuchhas (towel).

Textiles of various colours utilising vegetable dyes are also a specialty of the State’s indigenous people.

Sambalpur, known for its Sambalpuri sarees, is one of the most well-known handloom centres in Odisha. This renowned weave is centred on the villages of Bargarh, Sonepur, and Kendpalli. In addition, the roads are bordered with the homes of expert artisans who are indifferent to the noise and bustle of everyday life.

Berhampur is also well-known for their Berhampur Patta sarees. The craftsmanship on these silk sarees is stunning, yet they are also quite comfortable to wear. The city’s Ganesh Nagar alleys are home to some of BerhampuriPatta’s most famous weavers.

Koraput — It’s impossible to discuss Odisha without discussing its tribal population. Odisha’s tribes have made incalculable contributions to the state’s cultural legacy. Dongari & Ikat sarees are the most popular handloom from Koraput, capturing the curiosity and interest of handloom enthusiasts all over the world.

4. Pipli Applique Work

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Pipli Applique Work
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All fashion designers are familiar with the term “appliqué.” It’s simply a process of weaving colourful and appealing designs cut from one material onto another. Isn’t there something fashionable in our industry right now? But, believe it or not, appliqué works have long been a component of Orissan art styles. Initially, for the ‘Ratha Yatra’ at Jagannath Temple in Puri, to paint chariots. At Pipli, a small village near Bhubaneswar, talented artisans practise this temple art that has been passed down through generations. They produce a wide range of utilitarian and decorative objects in addition to supplying temples. Wall hangings, clutches, lampshades, and even handbags are examples.

5. Metalworks at Balakati

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Metalworks at Balakati
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Metal crafts were first introduced in Orissa during the Ganga Dynasty, in the 11th century, and have since grown and prospered with several improvements. Balakati village is located in the Puri region of Orissa and is known for producing high-quality brass, bell metal kitchenware, and temple goods. This craft is supposed to have started around 1400 AD and has grown since then. The utensils are made entirely of ancient metals such as brass and bell metal. When you go into this settlement, you’ll hear metals banging and craftspeople shouting and hammering with glee.

These metals are non ferrous in nature and have beneficial qualities, making them more attractive. Nonferrous metals are lower in weight, have superior electrical conductivity, and are non-magnetic. In most Indian families, they are utilised on auspicious occasions. The majority of the artists are members of a traditional group known as Kansari, which traditions and customs related to brass and bell metal production. They operate in a workshop known as Sala, or shed, which is conveniently located next to their residence.

6. Sand Art

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Sand Art
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Sand art is a type of sculpture that originated in Orissa, however its exact origins are unknown. Nonetheless, the location of where to go for this work and its creators is clear. If you’re looking for sand sculptures, Puri Beach is the place to go. If you’re unlucky and can’t find any sand sculptures on the beach, don’t worry; there’s a sand art museum on the way to Konark from Puri.

Every year, from the 1st to the 5th of December, Odisha hosts the Sand Art Festival. Odisha Tourism organises this festival every year. This tournament attracts sand painters from all around India as well as other nations. The finest sand artist will receive a cash reward of Rs 100,000. Sand painters are mostly from Mexico, Spain, Singapore, France, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Sudarsan Pattnaik, a well-known Odia sand artist, has been named the brand ambassador for the Odisha Tourism’s International Sand Art Festival.

7. Stone Carving

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Stone Carving
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Orissan culture continues to value stone sculpture. It is Orissa’s most famous handcraft. The Sun Temples of Konark, Udayagiri, and Ratnagiri, as well as the temples of Jagannath, Lingaraj, and Mukteshwar, are examples of Odisha stone carving.

Stone carving dates back to the 13th century A.D. in Orissa. D. One of the outstanding instances of artistry is the world-famous Sun Temple. This custom has been passed down from generation to generation since then. Even now, stone carving is a well-known art form in Odisha. Many families now rely on this labour as their primary source of income.

Stone carving is mostly done with sandstone, soapstone, Serpentinite, Makrana marble, and granite. The soft stones employed by expert craftspeople are white soapstone, Khadipathara, or somewhat harder greenish chlorite, Kochilapathara. Stone carving is usually done with pinkish Kandolite, Sahanapathara or Baulapathara, and the hardest of all, black granite and Muguni Pathara.

Stones are also used to make useful things such as candle stands, pen stands, paperweights, bookends, lamp bases, and stoneware kitchenware. Stone is used to creating stunning polished plates, containers, cups, glasses, and Kunda. These items are utilised for Pujas, ritual worship, and daily dining.

8. Papier Mache

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Papier Mache
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Another popular art form, or to put it another way, a souvenir to add to your collection, is paper mache. Craftspeople from all around Odisha employ the Papier Mache technique. For strength and termite prevention, paper, waste cloth, and various types of natural fibres are soaked and hammered into a pulp, then combined with a variety of seeds and gums. For body and reinforcement, special clays and bio-wastes are used. The entire process produces a material that is so pliable that it can be shaped into a variety of shapes with minimal effort. Despite its flexibility, though, this craft has been overlooked.

Papier Mache literally translates to “paper pulp craft.” Masks, lampshades, ornamental objects, and animals, to mention a few, are among the things available.

9. Dokra

Image – Wikimedia

The lost-wax process is used in Dhokra metal casting, and it is one of the oldest and most advanced methods of metal casting known to human civilization. Collectors prize Dhokra because of its unbroken lineage and the art form’s inherent starkness and energy.
The Dhokra crafts people live in a large area in the mineral-rich central Indian tribal belt (the regions of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and parts of Andhra Pradesh). Indigenous folk culture influenced the Dhokra themes. There’s a basic simplicity about it, as well as creative use of pattern and design. The craftsman’s artistic aptitude is inherently inventive, having been untrained in recognised institutions. Thousands of years have passed before intuitive invention began.

The waxwork for the preparation is done with great care using beeswax wires. After that, it’s covered with a thick layer of clay with a hole on top. The wax layer is subsequently replaced with molten metal, which is poured into the mould. Following the removal of the cast, decorative finishing touches are done.
In Odisha, the socio-cultural ties to Dhokra are still strong. Brides from the countryside are given a dowry of brass and bell metal household items. Daily necessities include betel nut packs and a circular deep dish for regional rice specialties. Brass or bell metal is used to create temple deities and accompanying ceremonial artefacts (such as bells and thalis). Tinkling bell metal anklets decorate the ankles of the classical Odissi dancer.

10. Saura Painting

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Saura Painting
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The Saura tribals of Odisha, India, are known for their Saura painting style of wall murals. These murals, also known as ikons (or ekons), have religious importance for the Saurus, India’s oldest tribe. Saura art is typically created on the red or brown clay walls of villagers’ dwellings, using natural colours made from rice, white stone, flower and leaf extracts, and a soft bamboo brush. The paintings are usually devoted to the Sauras’ deity, Idital, and are created for major occasions such as harvest, childbirth, marriage, and other occasions during which they are also revered.

11. Silver Filigree

Fabulous Folk Art Forms of Odisha- Silver Filigree
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Odisha’s Silver Filigree Crafts have been practiced since the 15th century, and each one has its own intricate design and craftsmanship. Only about 2000 artists in Cuttack and the surrounding areas continue the legacy of this superb trade. Silver filigree is a centuries-old craft. Silver is

beaten into fine threads and foils, which are then put together to produce infinitely beautiful jewellery and decorative work. The delicate artistry, beautiful craftsmanship, and superb polish have earned the products widespread acclaim.

During the ancient and mediaeval periods, Odisha was known as Utkala. The word Utkala translates to “land of excellence in art and workmanship.” The art forms are visual manifestations of a rich cultural heritage of Odisha and reflect on a tradition that still lives in the creative imagination and skill of her craftsmen.

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