Etymology: The term pattachitra has its origin in Sanskrit. The words ‘Patta’ means vastra or cloth and ‘chitra’ means paintings. So pattachitra means paintings on cloth.

Origin: The painting is said to have a basic resemblance to the old mural dating back to the 5th century, B.C. Although the earliest extant Patas dates only from the late 17th century, it is thought that the practice may have originated with the establishment of the Jagannath temple in the 11th century. 

Location: The pattachitras flourished under the cult of Lord Jagannath temple in Orissa and is one of the oldest and the most popular art forms, which is mostly practised in West Bengal and Orissa. 

Relevance: The most important perspective is the temple art on the Jagannath temple. Other themes like court art and the art of the society, mostly opposed to temple art, without any specific patronage, are depicted. The painters of Puri, however, have a more sophisticated style of painting which, to some extent, has been influenced by the classical tradition of south India and western India with which the Jagannath temple has continued its association.


Significance: The Patas served as substitute icons for the wooden image of Jagganath, Subhadra and Balabhadra. From the early 1980s, the paintings served as temple offerings or souvenirs for visiting pilgrims and devotees.

Culture and Societies: People from Raghurajpur, Odisha are born with an advantage as this is a village dedicated to the arts where a painter, dancer or craftsperson can be found in each home. The daily visit to Puri was not possible, so they used to worship the paintings of Lord Jagannath. Hence, these paintings were also called Jatri Patti.

Religious significance: Jagannath is depicted as Maha Vishnu and the way of worship is shaped mostly by Vaishnavite tradition.

Understanding the Art

Style: Pattachitra is a disciplined form of art and comes with a set of rules and restrictions. A floral border is a must, and the use of natural colours restricts them to maintain a single tone of shade.

Central motifs: The themes and motifs of Pattachitra painting centre around Lord Jagannath and the Vaishnav cult. Also, subjects from the ancient epic, mostly mythological, religious stories and folklore are drawn.

new outlook

Nowadays, the patta painting has been recognized as one of the popular art forms of Orissa. With the advancement of time, they have made a slow journey from the temple precincts to the walls of drawing rooms, lounges of hotels and guest houses.