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Patachitra, the intricate and artistic folk art, literally meaning ‘Picture on cloth canvas’ is a traditional treasure that has mesmerized the common man and the art connoisseur alike. Its deliberate characterization, dexterous play of lines and colours and mélange of aesthetic themes stand it apart from the other miniature art and painting styles.
Earlier done only on a cloth canvas and traditionally known to depict only religious and cultural aspects, today Patachitra artists are seen experimenting new mediums and themes. Seen as a significant cultural memorabilia in the temples, a rare collectable in the form of Ganjappa cards or as an object of pure home décor, Patachitra is an art to live and flourish.
Having a reference in the earliest known treatise on painting called ‘Chitralakshana’, this art form too finds its strong roots in the traditions of Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of Orissa. These paintings have a ritualistic significance even to this day. The picturesque village of Raghurajpur, on the banks of river Bhargavi is well known for this artistry, along with its neighbours Puri, Dandasahi and Khasposak.
The Pattachitra artists are called ‘Chitrakaars’ (Painters), mainly belonging to the Maharana and Mahapatra castes. This tradition is inherited in the form of a family sketch book, handed down over generations and cherished as a precious sacred possession. Earlier identified as a man’s domain, today even women play an active part in upholding this rare heritage.