Palm Leaf Paintings

Palm leaf paintings are very ancient in Odisha. In Odisha the Palm Leaf illustrations are mainly of two types, simple engravings or illustrations in pure line on palm leaf and engraving with colour fillings. In these engravings, colours are muted and play a very minor part. Where colours are at all applied, they are just painted either to emphasize the inscriptions, or to fill up blank space.

Away from the shops and bazaars, in some friendly Oriyan household or in a temple or at an astrologer’s place, the ancient art of palm leaf writing still survives. Religious texts continue to be read out from palm leaf manuscripts rather than from printed books.

Horoscopes, too, are traditionally written on palm leaves by professional horoscope makers known as nahakas. Palm leaf was considered so sacred that even after printing presses began operating in Odisha, important texts continued to be printed on the leaves instead of paper. The printing of New Year cards and wedding ivitations on palm leaf is still popular in Odisha.