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Etymology: The term pattachitra has its origin in Sanskrit. The word ‘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 an old mural dating back to the 5th century B.C. Although the earliest extant Patas date back to the late 17th century, it is believed that the practice may have originated with the establishment of the Jagannath temple in the 11th century. 

Location:  Pattachitra painting flourished under the cult of Lord Jagannath temple in Orissa. It is one of the oldest and the most popular art forms and is mainly practised in West Bengal and Orissa. 

Relevance: Pattachitra paintings used to decorate the interiors of the Jagannath temple portrayed religious themes. Apart from spiritualism, the themes of Pattachitra paintings also include depictions of daily life and society. The painters of Puri have a sophisticated style of painting, which to some extent has been influenced by the classical traditions of south India and western India.


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: Since daily visits to Puri were not possible, people would worship the paintings of Lord Jagannath. These paintings were known as Jatri Patti.

The town of Raghurajpur in Odisha is a famous centre of Pattachitra painting. This art village is a popular tourist destination. A painter, dancer, or artisan can be found in each home in Raghurajpur.

Religious significance: Jagannath is depicted as Maha Vishnu and the way of worship is primarily influenced 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 makes the paintings look rich and vibrant.

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

new outlook

Nowadays, patta painting has been recognised as one of the famous art forms of Orissa. With the advancement of time, they have evolved from the temple precincts to the walls of drawing rooms, lounges of hotels and guest houses.

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