Pattrachitra: Art From Prehistory That Makes Stunning Home Decoration
Pattrachitra are cloth-based scroll paintings based on Hindu mythology and religion which embody an amazing amount of rich cultural history.
This art-form’s origination has been traced back to 5th Century BC, and it is still actively practiced today—many people in the region of Odisha, West Bengal, India, still practice the art. In fact, it maintains its popularity and has beautifully adapted to the pressures of the modern world, which we will explore more below.
Literally, “Patta” means “cloth” and “chitra” means “picture” in Sanskrit. Pattachitra, therefore, translates to a picture painted on cloth. To begin, the artist prepares the canvas (patta). The canvas was traditionally cotton, but nowadays, cotton and silk are both used. Interestingly, artisans traditionally used older cloth as it was more broken in. Painters of this art-form are known as chitrakars.
A Brief Introduction into Pattachitra
Specifically, it is still practiced in a small village in in Puri District, India, called Raghurajpur. Home to roughly 140 Chitrakar families, each and every one is reportedly involved in creating handicrafts such as Pattrichitra.
There is a special process to prepare the canvas. A delicate cotton cloth is treated with white stone powder and a substance made out of tamarind seeds, which makes the canvas ready for the paint.
One of the more interesting aspects of Pattrachitra is the set of rules that goes along with it. For example, a border is required around the edges of the paintings, and the use of natural colors in the composition is expected. Oftentimes, compositions employ symmetry to make a beautifully balanced work of art. To finish up the process, the finished canvas is held over a charcoal fire and coated with a finishing protective layer.
Like many art forms, the Pattachitra has changed over time. It’s evolved from the traditional cotton to be painted on many different items, like sarees, bags, and wall hangings. Despite this drastic evolution, the subject matter itself remains consistent and intricate—and is something that we maintain as we sell our artworks online, as well. Colors are normally filled into compositions without preliminary sketches, which is a truly unique aspect of Pattrachitra. Additionally, all colors are sourced from nature; for example, white pigment is made from powdered conch shells.
Common Traditional Subjects of Pattrachitra
Most, this art form is icon painting, meaning it is predominately religious. For reference, some popular religious themes are the following:
The Badhia (an artistic rendering of the temple of Jagannath)
Krishna Lila (an enactment of Jagannath as Lord Krishna showing his childhood powers)
Panchamukhi (Lord Ganesh depicted as a five-headed deity)
Pattrachitra can also be mythological and folklore subjects. Like much art, there’s so much to learn beyond what can be conveyed in a blog post; if you’re interested in bringing it into your house, it’s worth a bit of research to immerse yourself in the art’s narrative.
Buying Pattrachitra and Other Handmade Unique Paintings Online
Throughout the many centuries of its existence, the art form has experienced some changes, but it maintains its strong cultural roots to make stunning artwork. In fact, now, its almost regarded as vintage art. Chitrakars—the term for the artist—have painted on palm leaves and silk and have adapted the art form to create wall hangings and showpieces. Because of the defined methodology, the formal aspects of the art technique remain strong. The folk paintings are internationally known, and there are centers to teach the art form in Odisha, displaying its continuing popularity.
Over the years, Pattachitra has expanded into different objects like bottle, bags and kettles. The art of Pattachitra revolves around the stories from the Hindu mythology and the evolution of this art from just cloth surfaces to other household items has provided people with multiple opportunities. The surface has to be prepared in a similar fashion like the cloth surface so that the color easily sticks to it. In case of bottles and kettles, It is then covered with waterproofing coating so that the natural colors are protected from getting smudged due to water or moisture.
Here at artraditions.com, we want you to be able to rekindle heritage—we hope you can bring beautiful traditional art forms into your home while retaining and paying homage to their rich origin. In a world full of mass-produced, designer-label goods, we hope to bring the rich tradition of our roots into your lives with authenticity.
Why We’re Talking About Pattachitra
It’s a beautiful art form—and, like many traditional art forms, the traditional method has undergone fascinating changes in the modern era. These art forms from prehistory are still around for reason; the handicraft shines through and its a beautiful display of culture, religion, and the past.
If you’re looking to fill your house with vintage art, this can be a good place to start—learn about this beautiful handicraft and all the connotations that it brings with it through art. Every day, we dedicate ourselves to modernizing a rich handicraft and its many designs but with always keeping the core art form and intention genuinely intact. You can buy paintings for your living room and add handicraft to your daily lives—check out our website for a composition that inspires you.