The Odisha Pattachitra Paintings have been a part of the heritage of Odisha since time immemorial. They are intricately linked to the cult of Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of one of the Holy Trinity of the Hindus, Lord Vishnu. Every year, in the Jagannath temple of Puri, the three idols of Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra are given a ritual bath. This bath leads to a slight discoloration of the vibrant paint on the idols. Then they are removed from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple for painting. During this time, when the idols are not in place, they are substituted by three paintings. They are prepared by the temple painters on specially designed clothes.
They are called ‘Patas’ in the local language. Hence the term ‘Pattachitra’ came into being which literally means ‘Cloth Paintings’. The art of ‘Pattachitra’ commenced as a ritual. But now it has burgeoned into a bona fide school of painting. The exponents of this kind of art are called the ‘Chitrakars’. They are local to Puri and two adjacent villages, namely Dandshahi and Raghuraipur. Each of them possess a family sketchbook which is a traditional legacy handed down from generations. They prepare the canvas with a lot of care and call it ‘Nirvas Kalpa’. In fact, this quintessential art form depicts the cultural legacy of the bucolic locales and finds expression through the paintings of Odisha which has been passed down the generations.
Laxmi Pada Chita