The legend behind her origin says that in the beginning the sun appeared in the heavens. The rishis (sages) offered soma (a sacred plant) so that the world might be created. The sun then created the three worlds (lokas or bhuvanas). At that time Shodashi (Tripura-sundari) was the main power, or shakti, through whom Surya (sun) created the worlds. Having created the worlds, or having empowered the sun to do so, the goddess assumed an appropriate form and pervaded and directed the triple world. In this form she became known as Bhuvaneshvari, "mistress of the world." It is further said that Bhuvaneshvari remains unmanifest until the world is created. That is, Bhuvaneshvari is particularly associated with the visible, created world.
Bhuvaneshvari's beauty is mentioned often. The Tantrasara describes her as having a beautiful face, framed with flowing hair the color of black bees. Her eyes are broad, her lips full and red, and her nose delicate. Her firm breasts are smeared with sandal paste and saffron. Her waist is thin, and her thighs, buttocks, and navel are lovely. Her beautiful throat is decorated with ornaments, and her arms are made for embracing. Shiva is said to have produced a third eye to view her more thoroughly. In her hundred-name stotra (hymn) in the Shaktapramoda, she is said to be a beautiful young girl with a smiling face.
Here she is shown with four arms, two of them making the gestures of granting boons and removing fear respectively. These gestures express her gracious attitude towards the world, particularly towards her devotees.
The other two hands hold a goad and noose made of a serpent. These suggest control. The goad means that she controls evil forces or inner hindrances, such as anger, lust, and any obsession that interferes with spiritual development. The noose symbolizes the different bodily sheaths that hide, and therefore bind, the spiritual essence of a person, the atman.
The traditional Pattachitra is a scroll painting that is done on
cloth. This is revealed in the name; Pattachitra is a Sanskrit
term made from two words i.e. Patta meaning cloth and Chitra
meaning picture. The main subject of this painting is portraying
Hindu mythological narratives, scenes from religious texts, and
folktales. Pattachitra paintings are especially practiced in
eastern Indian states such as West Bengal and Odisha, and also in
some parts of Bangladesh. This art form is closely related to Shri
Jagannath and the tradition of the Vaishnava sect. It is believed
that Pattachitra art originated in the 11th century and the people
of Odisha practice it even today without any discrepancy. Bengalis
use these scroll paintings for ritual purposes (as a visual
device) during the performance of a song or Aarti.
Pattachitra paintings are characterized by creative and
traditional motifs/designs, decorative borders, and bright
colorful applications. The outline of the figure and motifs are
bold and sharp. Some common shapes and motifs seen in these
paintings are trees, flowers, leaves, elephants, and other
creatures. The artists of Odisha and Bengal still use the
traditional method of painting which gives a unique look to it
The process of painting a Pattachitra begins by preparing the
canvas (patta). Generally, cotton cloth is used for making the
canvas. The local artists dip the cotton cloth in a mixture of
tamarind seeds and water for a few days. The cloth is then taken
out and dried in the sun. Now natural gum is applied over it to
stick another layer of cotton cloth on it. Thus a thick layer of
cotton cloth is formed. This layered cotton is sun-dried and a
paste of chalk powder, tamarind, and gum is applied on both
sides. The surface of the cloth is then rubbed with two
different stones for smoothening and it is again dried. This
process gives the cloth a leathery finish and it is now ready to
The painters prepare and use vegetable and mineral colors for
application in the painting. White color is made from conch
shells, black is made by burning coconut shells, Hingula is used
for red color, Ramaraja for blue, and Haritala for yellow.
The artist now makes a double-lined border on all four sides of
the canvas. The local artists are so expert in painting that
they do not draw figures and motifs with pencil but directly
draw them with a brush. The paint brushes that the painters use
are made of the hair of domestic animals, a bunch of which is
tied to the end of a bamboo stick. The figures are now painted
with natural colors using the indigenous brushes. The outline is
thickened with black color.
Finally, the painting is varnished/glazed to protect it from any
damage and to get a glossy shine on the surface.
The making of a Pattachitra is laborious work and therefore, one
painting may sometimes take over a month to complete. Due to their
classical look, these paintings are admired by people from all
over the world. The artistic skills used in Pattachitra are passed
down from one generation to another and thus are preserved to
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