The Ratha Yatra

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Item Code: PE67
Artist: Rabi Behera
Orissa's Paata Painting on Tussar SilkArtist Rabi Behera
Dimensions 45.0" x 25.5"
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100% Made in India
100% Made in India
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It is always difficult to pin the exact beginning of any traditional art. Similarly for the pata chitras which have existed in various parts of Orissa since time immemorial.

The pata chitras mainly have the designs of Sri Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, the three deities. Every year, after the Snanotsav (bathing ceremony), the deities reside in a secluded chamber called Ansara Ghar till the Rath Yatra, which is depicted here in full splendor. The chariots, as much as the idols are entirely crafted in wood. The three cars housing the deities are fixed with sturdy ropes, which are helpful to devotees pulling the monumental rathas. The annual rath yatra is accompanied by celebrations and rituals. The drum and cymbal players in the foreground beat them to the tune of devotional singing. The brahmins and pujaris of the temple sit atop the chariots distributing 'prasadam' and blessing the general public.

The entire composition is teeming with people, giving the artist choice of various colours, costumes, facial features and postures. The sky, instead of providing spatial relief to the composition, adds to the clutter; various birds and clouds vie with the fluttering flags at the top of the chariots for prominence in the expanse above.

This description by Kiranjyot.

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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