Pattachitra Sarees

Pattachitra is one of the most ancient handicrafts practiced in Odisha. This art-form is known for its intricate details as well as mythological narratives and folktales inscribed in it. Pattachitra is a specialized form of art which dates back to 5 B.C. and belongs to the tradition of temple paintings. Primarily portraying Sri Jagannath, its themes later extended to the Hindu epics and mythology. They were once used as decorative artifacts to adorn the sanctum sanctorum of temples — as colourful backdrops, on the seat of deities, over curtains and pillars, at the threshold.

The term ‘pattachitra’ has its origin from the Sanskrit. Patta means vastra or cloth and chitra means paintings. The use of cloth for painting has been an age old tradition in Odisha and the rest of India. It is believed that Pattachitras were sent to China from Odisha during the rule of Bhaumakars and the craftsmanship was highly appreciated. This art has evolved, nourished and flourished under the cult of Lord Jagannath.

Origin and History:

A typical ritual in the temple, illustrates its link with Lord Jagannath: On the Debasnana Purnima day (full moon day of Jyestha) the deities have a ritualistic bath to fight the heat of summer. As a result the deities become sick for fifteen days, i.e. the first fortnight of Ashadha. This period is known as Anasar and the devotees don't have darshan of their beloved Lord at the Ratnavedi (jeweled platform where the deities are placed). During that period three paintings, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and MaaSubhadra are worshiped. These paintings are prepared by the traditional pattachitrakaras. These chitrakaras observe some rituals while working on thesepaintings.

The chitrakar has to be vegetarian during the period of painting and sleep on the ground without using any bed. He has to put on a new dhoti while working on the paintings. Women are not allowed to touch the painting. After the painting is completed, a Mahasnan (grand bath) is arranged through chanting, of mantras and then the pattachitras of the deities are placed in the temple for worship and darshan. After the completion of anasar, the paintings are preserved at the store of the temple.

The Process:

The process begins with creating a canvas, or the surface on which the painting is to be executed. A gummy paste of boiled tamarind seeds and soft granite powder is plastered on a stretched piece of cloth, twice over, so that it becomes stone hard and does not crack.

Once dry, the bare outlines of the painting are sketched with charcoal or limestone (chalk) by a master painter. This is usually done free-hand and from memory, though decorative motifs like borders and certain geometric forms are copied from pre-cut stencils in order to save time. The figures and designs are then painted with precision. The figures are detailed by creating black outlines.

Borders are an integral part of painting and this is drawn first on the canvas on all the four sides consisting of two or three lines according to the size. The outlines of the figures are drawn first with pencil. The body colors are then added followed by coloring the attires.

The Revival:

It is an old dying Indian art. So, now Pattachitra is being incorporated into various kinds of products due to its versatility. The vibrancy of this art-form can make any product much more luxurious. Pattachitra is now an inspiration to incorporate this into their designs and collections.

It is now used in sarees, dresses and even on high-end couture pieces. People have also started accepting this. Now, the artisans are also getting a chance to continue the same occupation and earn their livelihood.

We also experiment with varied themes and make it contemporary by making innovations in the art-form. Shop the most vibrant and beautiful Pattachitra sarees and duppatta hand-painted by the most experienced Pattachitra artists exclusively at Suumayaweaves.