Art is an expression of the intrinsic qualities and meaning man finds in reality with things, persons, events or life as such. Art , in various forms , is a part of our life. But sometimes art itself becomes the life of some artisans as seen in case of Chitrakaras of Odisha, whose life revolves around "Patta Painting".
Authors, through both synchronic and diachronic approaches, have described sufficiently the historical and socio-cultural aspect of Chitrakara caste, duties of the Chitrakaras and their position in the Jagannath temple along with the relationship of patta painting with Lord Jagannath.
Like the history of the caste, the history of the craft has also been attempted by the authors. The authors have elaborately discussed all the stages , techniques and artifacts involved in patta painting and given a detail description including the nature, style, colour schemes , technique and themes and mode of expression as well as regional variation and emerging changes in this age old craft of patta painting. Taking both caste and craft at its core, the present study intends to focus on changes and development in the overall craft tradition of 'Patta' painting. The response of the 'Chitrakaras' to the development stimuli has been discussed in conjunction with the processes of change and development taking place in caste community due to the impact of modernization. Monetisation and market orientation of the paintings have influenced the life-style and work habits of the Chitrakara caste community which, to a decisive degree, determine not only the future of the craft but also the future of the caste community under study.
This book will be of immense help not only to the researchers, scholars, academicians but also to any artists and art loving person to get a basic understanding about the traditional craft of Odisha.
Dr. Jagannath Dash is a professor in Anthropology at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. He specializes in Social and Cultural Anthropology. He obtained M.sc. and Ph.d. degrees in Anthropology from Utkal University. His major areas of teaching and research are Anthropological Thought, Human Ecology, Linguistic Anthropology, Psychological Anthropology, folklore and Kinship. He has received several national and international fellowships, associateship and Cultural Exchange Programmes in the field of anthropological research and visited countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Singapore, Australia, France, England, Scotland and Usa in this connection. He has published several books on a variety of themes like Saora Language, Cult of Jagannath, Customary Law, Human Ecology, Violence Against Women, Shamanism, Odia Cinema, Indigenous Knowledge System, Tribal Development etc.. He has published several research papers in peer reviewed journals.
Dr. Mamata Dash is currently working as a lecturer in school of women studies Utkal University. She completed post graduation in Anthropology and Law from Utkal University,Vani Vihar, Bhubaneswar. She was awarded Ph.D. in Social Anthroplogy by Utkal University in 1999. She completed post graduation in Women's studies from Mother Teresa Women's University, Tamil Nadu. She is associated with many International, National and local NGOs as a trainer and consultant to various Research Projects. She works for the cause of women.
LItkala, the ancient name of Odisha, means excellence in arts and crafts. Odisha, which has Austric, Dravidian and Aryan layers of cultural, history in that order, retains its indigenous artistic, musical, literary and architectural traditions over space and time. The two important perceptions of human beings are Drusya and Sravya. Kapila Vatsayaian names rock art the Adi Drusya. The savants among human beings were seers of mantras, designs and structures.
They heard sounds, from which language was created. They saw both and there came foundations of creativity and innovativeness. They composed designs through fines and the cave paintings came to existence. These are the earliest perception of aesthetic structures underlying the universe. India, Australia and South Africa are the three continents where the largest numbers of cave paintings are found. The earliest human settlements with sustained cultural history are found here. Odisha is one of the human habitations in India with rich cultural heritage. The recently excavated Asanabandha skeleton is 4500 years old. It is not an accident that about 5775 cave paintings have been found here. But the developmental history of human culture, as well as the great cultural osmosis is yet to be deciphered. This pre-historical rock art has been the concern of many disciplines.
Archeologists and pre-historians are concerned about establishing a linear chronology of rock art. Their effort at mechanistic and analytical approach with the assumption that rock art would be understood by statistical counting of lines and figures has brought arts the fruitlessness of their argument. Another concern is that of the anthropologists/ ethnologists. By studying the direct relationship between the living community and the rock art in their surrounding or by studying the face between the government and the art form of a by- gone, try to understand the rock art form of different orientations. Our art critic, be they of any orientation, are concerned about establishing the criteria of schools and styles for sustained developmental history of art forms. This precludes study of expression of human emotions, which is possible following only interdisciplinary innovative ways. Patta Chitra is one variety of Odia painting which has indigenous roots as well as Dravidian and Aryan branches and leaves, tribal in origin, nomadic as pushed from place to place retaining their Jagannath Connection.
The name Pattachitra according to specialists comes out of the ground on which it is painted. According to some, it is a plank (in Odia-Pata), according to others it is a piece of cloth and according to some others, it is silk & tusser on which the painting is painted. Rather than identifying the names what is of greater importance is the fact that under what socio- economic and environmental circumstances the different bases were adopted. At what time did they become entirely religious and why, at what time caste groups were formed and under what circumstances - are some of the questions that await answer. What about other paintings like the Saora paintings or paintings of the other tribal groups which are ignored when Odisha's art historians say that the history of Odishan art begins with. Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves. What is more unfortunate is that scholars like Gangooly who made a name by studying Odishan art said that the remains of Khandagiri-Udayagiri are so fragmentary that it is difficult to call it Odishan art. Even the Vikramkhol painting known as Rabanachaya, of the 6th Century can at best called the painting of Odisha. There is nothing to identify as a dialect of Odishan painting.
It is not at all strange that by naming the rock paintings and Khandagiri-Udayagiri painting as other paintings from Odisha, Patta paintings would be accepted as the earliest Odishan painting ( 10th Cent. the earliest time). The present book authored by Dr. Mamata Dash and Prof. Jagannath Dash, is a continuation of Puri Paintings by J.P. Das. The present book is an anthropological depiction of Patta Painting tradition. The present book is undoubtedly is a comprehensive presentation on Patta painting which has given equal emphasis on art and society of the Patta painters besides an introduction and a conclusion. It has the following chapters.
The People, Habitat and Culture; Patta Painting Structure and Variation; Social Contexts and Uses of Patta Painting; Economy of the Patta Painters: Traditional and modern; & Social ,Cultural and Ideological Changes in Paintings. I have no doubt that this presentation will open up new directions for research in diverse dimensions including the emotional and aesthetic. I hope that this will be well received by Scholars and general readers alike.
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