The Chittara Mural artform, established by the Deevaru Community, is a traditional phenomenon that involves intricate stories and geometric patterns. The Kannada word ‘Chittara’ means design or image. Historically, women of the Deevaru community in Karnataka’s Sagar district used to practise this art form. Chittara Murals were painted in village homes on auspicious occasions. In order to welcome the Gods before they descended onto earth during festivals and religious ceremonies such as weddings.

Chittara Murals
Image Credits: Memeraki (1) (2); Pinterest (3)

Chitrana (Chittara) is a traditional artwork of women in Karnataka, India. It is a decorative art form where a woman not only uses natural colours but also create beautiful patterns on walls, floors and furniture. Colours from rice paste or wheat flour paste are made up of vegetable dyes like turmeric powder and lime mud paste. Let’s explore the nitty-gritty of Chittara Murals with Rooftop. 

The Foundation Of Chittara Murals

The art of Chittara has a long history. It is said that the Lord Brahma, God of creation and maintenance of the Universe, painted the first image on earth. He was known for his creative abilities, so he created an image of himself. He then made many other images and gave them his blessings.

Chittara Murals
Image Credits: Twitter (1); Indian Folk Art (2)

The exact history of Chittara Murals is unknown. Though it is believed that the art form originated 9000 years back from cave paintings. Later, it was adapted to the walls and floors of village homes. The Kannada word Chittara stands for an image or design. Historically, this ancient art form has been practised by women of the Deevaru community in the Sagar district of Karnataka. Chittrrakars created these images on auspicious occasions on the interiors and exteriors of the home. Besides Chittara art has been practised in Karnataka for over 500 years now. Also known as one of the most popular art forms in South India. 

Colours Of Chittara

The prominent and natural colours used in Chittara murals are white, black and red:

  1. The white rice paste has been pounded and mixed with turmeric (the dried root of Curcuma longa) so that it becomes a dark brownish-yellow colour, which is then mixed with water to form a thin paste.
  2. The artist paints the wall with the mixture by using different brushes, one for each colour (red, black and white).
  3. Then, the colours are mixed with water to make a thick paste-like paint.
Chittara Murals
Image Credits: D’source (1); WordPress (2)

The red Chittara murals depict the scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, where Rama kills Ravana by cutting off his head with an arrow made of gold. In this painting, Rama carries Sita on his back while fighting with Ravana’s army in Lanka. The artisans use these colours as they are readily available near their homes, and they don’t have to travel far to get these materials.

Symbolism And Principles

All the stories, characters, and motifs of Chittara Murals represent the traditional Indian culture. The word Chittara means “straight line”. Chittara murals are made by women who can draw straight lines symmetrically, requiring an understanding of ratios and proportions. Women practise Chittara and are known as Chitrakars. They are mainly found in villages and towns across India and areas with a long tradition of Chittara painting. This art form involves a specific style of drawing that uses straight lines only, without curves or angles.

Chittara Murals
Image Credits: Devroye (1); Youtube (2)

Preserving The Chittara Murals Tradition

The growing recognition of Chittara Murals is a big boost for the Deevaru community. The women are now actively participating in exhibitions and workshops held by various organizations, while their crafts have also been showcased in multiple sales outlets across Bengaluru and Chennai. Mrinalini Kulkarni from Bangalore has especially taken up commissioning projects for Chittara art on wedding sarees and other garments. Commissioned works are also aplenty, including items of home decor, in silk, with Chittara paintings on them, in demand in Geneva and France. Nevertheless in the digital art era, few art forms struggle to make our ancient glory alive; Chittara Mural being one of them. 

Fun fact of Chittara Murals
Image Credits: Art For Concern

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