Lord Ganesha is the Hindu god of new beginnings. This springs from him also being the remover of obstacles, leading his followers to pray to him before making major life decisions. Many rites and ceremonies also invoke him at the beginning of the worship. Lord Ganesha is also a patron of the arts and wisdom. His elephant head makes him one of the most recognizable gods in the Hindu tradition and even outside of India.
Lord Ganesha Dancing and Stretching a Snake Over His Head is a watercolor painting on Patti made by artist Pravakar Das. This is a prime example of folk art from the Temple Town Puri (in Orissa). It depicts Lord Ganesha in his most iconic form featuring an elephant head and a rounded belly. He also has only one tusk and is drawn with eight hands while his trunk is trained on a sweet on one of his hands. The mouse is also present near his feat, symbolizing his power to overcome big and small obstacles. The serpent is also another animal that is usually present in depictions of Ganesha. Stories say that Ganesha wrapped a serpent on his belly to keep the sweets from spilling over after the mouse which carries him stumbles and made him fall. This imagery is often included in various depictions of Ganesha and the snake, either as a belt or held above his head by his hands.
The color palette used includes midnight blue, white, and pale yellow which can also symbolize Ganesha’s serpent story with the darkness of the night when the moon was shot by Lord Ganesha after the cosmic being laughed at him from tripping and spilling the content of his stomach. The moon, the mouse, the serpent, and Ganesha's belly remains a powerful and candid representation of how the cosmos (his stomach) is tied together by the serpent energy (kundalini) that holds everything together.
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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