Odisha’s Raghurajpur Artist Village: The Birth Place of Divine Art Pattachitra

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Image – Amol Singh Jadon

Every art is unique but there are very few art forms that are believed to be divine and in the age of technology there is hardly any region or village left where members from every age group are involved in some sort of art. Of those few places, the village Raghurajpur in Odisha, which is often considered the birthplace of Pattachitra, the divine and traditional form of art. Raghurajpur is a village in the Puri district of Odisha. This village is 14 kilometres from the Jagannath temple. Along with exceptional Patachitra artists, it is also famous for Gotipua, a precursor form of Odissi dance. Almost all of the artists who hail from the village are involved in different forms of art. It is believed that Patachitra art origins date back to 5. B.C from this region.

Raghurajpur Artist Village

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Image – Amol Singh Jadon

The villagers are also engaged in other crafts like wooden toys, stone carvings, Tussar art, palm leaf engraving etc but the art Pattachitra has given recognition to this village. Shilpa Guru Dinabandhu Mohapatra who hails from Raghurajpur and has gotten many national and state-level accolades for his painting skills, said “Every family in our village produces an artist.” We have served Shri Jaganath through our Pattchitra skills, due to our paintings ‘Prabhu’ (Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra) could be worshipped during their illness period. “The women prepare cloths and colours for the paintings and the men in the family are predominantly involved in painting and selling, similarly children provide their assistance in these works,” added Mohapatra. “Every member of the family in Raghurajpur village are involved in some sort of activities of art and craft, said Subham Prusty”, a young artist from Raghurajpur. After research the village is also developed as a heritage village.  

Pattachitra of Odisha

Pattachitra of Odisha
Image – Wikimedia

The art Pattachitra is famous for the natural colours used and its history. Though this kind of painting has a presence in West Bengal and some parts of Bangladesh the art form in Odisha is related to Jaganath culture. The Pattachitra combines two words ‘patta’ which means cloth and ‘Chitra’ means painting. This is a form of art which is painted on a piece of cloth. The rich artfrom is closely related to the cult of Shri Jagannath and the temple traditions in Puri. It is believed that the painting originated as early as the 5th century BC, it is one of the most popular living art forms. 

Process and Forms of Pattachitra 

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Image – Amol Singh Jadon

For Pattachitra painting, the artists follow a traditional canvas preparation process. A gauze-like fine cotton cloth is coated with white stone powder and gum made from tamarind seeds. This makes the canvas ready to accept the paint, made of natural colours. The colours used in the painting are a unique feature of this art. The gum of the Kaitha tree is the chief ingredient, used as a base for making different pigments by adding available raw materials. For instance, to get the shade of white, powdered conch shells are used. The entire painting is handmade. Patachitra paintings are created following a set of rules. There are some basic techniques and styles that are fundamental to all the artists like the beautiful floral borders.

Similarly, the images or face profiles of deities have elongated eyes and prominent facial expressions. Also, Patachitra paintings use natural colours. Within this form of art there are different styles of painting and storytelling techniques. For example, kandrpa hati, Kandarpa danga, Krishna leela, etc. This art is now a days painted in walls and wooden materials. 

Significance of Pattachitra Art

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Image – Amol Singh Jadon

This art is believed to be sacred as it is part of the worship procedure of Lord Jagannath. An artist named Trilochan Jena believes that this art form has been originated from the rituals of Lord Jagannath and holds a lot of cultural and religious significance. As per the rituals every year during Ratha Yatra, which is one of the biggest religious congregation around the world, the three deities of the temple Lord Jagannath and his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra suffer from fever after the festival Devasnana Purnima. Their idols are quarantined for 14 days in an isolated room known to be ‘Anasar Gruha’. For that period three cults were painted in Pattachitra form and worshipped. Three different families in Raghurajpur village are rested with the job to paint three idols.  This is how the painting is connected to Jagannath rituals and treated as highly pure as it serves three cults Jagannath, Suhadra and Balabhadra who is considered as the most prominent deities for Odias.

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