Odisha’s Craft Heritage: Pattachitra

Pattachitra is a Sanskrit word that means “cloth” and “painting.” It is a style of hand painting that originated in Odisha in the 12th century B.C., or more than 3000 years ago, and is one of the most prominent living art forms still practiced by people in Odisha. This form of art is strongly tied to Shri Jagannath’s religion and Puri’s temple traditions. Almost the entire Chitrakar community is from Raghurajpur, a small village in the Puri district. This is also India’s only village in which each family engages in crafts such as Patta painting, wooden toys, stone carvings, and so on.


Pattachitra artists, also known as chitrakars, predominantly portrayed Hindu mythology-based icon paintings. The Badhia (a depiction of Jagannath’s temple), Krishna Lila (a portrayal of Jagannath as Lord Krishna demonstrating his powers as a kid), Dasabatara Patti (the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu), and Panchamukhi are the most popular subjects (a depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity).

Before commencing to paint, the artists treat the canvas, or “Patta,” with a mixture of chalk and gum (made out of tamarind seeds). Two separate stones are then used to rub the mixture into the cloth. The cloth is then dried.

10 Birds Jhumar

Pattachitra is a disciplined art form with a set of norms and limitations. In Pattachitra paintings, a floral border is required, as is the use of natural colors limited to a single tone. This results in a unique look and feels that is unique to Pattachitra and cannot be imitated. The figures’ stances are all limited to a few well-defined positions.

The lines are strong, crisp, and precise. There are no landscapes, viewpoints, or distant vistas in general. All of the incidents are shown nearby. The Pattachitra style has aspects of both traditional and classical music.

Hand Painted Bottle

Over time, the art of Pattachitra has gone through a commendable transition and the chitrakars have been painted on palm leaves and tussar silk. Pattachitras are increasingly used to decorate sarees, purses, wall hangings, and even showpieces. This kind of inventiveness, on the other hand, has never proven to be a detriment to their traditional depiction of people and use of colors, which has stayed unchanged for generations. Historically, only male Odia artists were recognized for their beautiful work, but now several female painters are also recognized for their beautiful work.

Ridhi Modi
Ridhi Modi

3rd year undergraduate student at the Jindal School of Art and Architecture, majoring in BA Built Environment Studies (Hons) with Interior Design as minors. Intern at Shop Chaupal- to learn about India’s Art and Culture.

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