Lord Vishnu with Lakshmi on Sheshnag

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Item Code: PC61
Orissa's Paata Painting Water Color on Patti
Dimensions 1.0 ft X 1.5 ft
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Vishnu happens to be one of the most prominent Brahmanical Hindu gods with numerous iconic manifestations and widespread artistic representation to his credit. One of these forms show him reclining on the body of the primeval serpent Ananta or Sheshanaga in the oceanic waters. This image is popularly known as the Sheshashayi image.

Four-armed, he holds a conch shell (shankha), wheel (chakra), a mace (gada) and a lotus (padma). From his navel emerges a lotus stalk ending in a fully bloomed lotus on which is shown seated Lord Brahms. Vishnu is a colossal lord of exquisite beauty-beaming like the glowing sun and his eyes are like a lotus in bloom. His head is adorned with a golden crown which is radiant in color and majestic in appearance. There is a tulsi garland around his neck. he is also embellished with necklaces, waistband, armlets and other jewelry befitting his magnificent personality.

Lakshmi is the closely attached wife of Vishnu. She is an image of eternal youth and peerless beauty, what with dark, doe like eyes. Lakshmi is lovingly caressing Vishnu's feet. They are engrossed with each other judging by the engrossed glances they exchange.

Sheshanag's protective hoods are drawn in perspective as also Lakshmi and Vishnu's bodies but their heads are in profile. the curving hoods of the Sheshanag break the elemental horizontality of the reclining Vishnu. The painter's refinement is fully revealed in the delicate flowing rhythmic outlines of the snakes hoods linked with the flow of Vishnu's body, picked up by Lakshmi who holds his bent leg resulting in the flowing rhythm continuing thorough her semi-cross-legged posture. The direction of the curve of the lotus stalk and the petals as Brahma's seat provide a contrapuntal note.

On either side of Vishnu and Lakshmi are Narad and Saraswati waiting attendance. Narad, with his hair knotted on top hold his vina in his right hand. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, waiting on Lakshmi is resplendent in a crown and jewelry from head to toe. She holds a vina too. Her body posture is graceful with hands in the 'nritya mudra'.

This painting has a soft treatment and an agreeable synthesis between outlines and inner modeling so that independent lines are not so conspicuous. The figures are delicate and weightless. In all, the painting is reposeful and calm.

This description by Renu Rana.

Mastering the Ancient Technique: Exploring the Meticulous Creation of Pattachitra Paintings

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 altogether.

1. Canvas is prepared

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 be painted.

2. Natural colors are made using traditional method

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.

3. Colors are filled in

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.

4. Painting is given a finishing

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 date.
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