Rooftop – Where India Inspires Creativity

Learn Indian art online

The World of Pattachitra Art: A Glimpse into Odisha’s Raghurajpur Village

Pattachitra art - Raghurajpur - Heritage Crafts Village

The moment you set foot in this village, you will be immersed in the rich art heritage of Odisha. Every nook and corner of it has imprints of their generational art. Right from their simple homes to temples and shops. We are talking about the most popular village – Raghurajpur. For generations, this region in Puri district has been living up to its name as – “ heritage crafts village”. This artistic hub of Odisha, India, is known for its master Pattachitra painters which dates back to 5 BC. Pattachitra art is an emotion for the natives of Raghurajpur. The entire process of creating Pattachitra art is revered as worship of their deity Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra. Let us dive deep to experience the uniqueness of Odisha.

Raghurajpur – The Heritage Crafts Village of Pattachitra Art

Source – TimesofIndia

It is often said that the local art is the ‘language of the land’ which reflects their beliefs, traditions and culture. Raghurajpur plays a vital role in preserving the tradition of Pattachitra art to this date. Their skilled art has grabbed global attention and pinned Pattachitra art on the global market. Situated amidst groves of coconut and palm trees, this humble yet artistic village has talent in abundance. The artists not only practice Pattachitra but also possess other artisanal skills like palm leaf engraving, making wooden toys and stone carving.  

Source – Wikipedia, YouTube

With around 120 houses, this small village proudly displays the generational art on their house door and streets adjacent to it. The Pattacitra art is not only restricted to the piece of cloth but also created on betel nuts, plates and palm leaves. 

The Jagannath temple in the Puri district was constructed by the rulers of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, from the 5th -15th century CE. It is believed that King Narasingha Deva I, a powerful monarch and warrior of the Eastern Ganga dynasty in the 13th century CE, founded Raghurajpur. As patrons of art, the rulers promoted and fostered temple-related art and architecture in Odisha. Hence, the village is also called as the home of Chitrakaras(painters)

The Religious Significance of Pattachitra Art 

Folk art or any other traditional art of India has a common thread – the mythological and religious tales. The creation of Pattachitra art arrived from the need to have a representation of their deities in the absence of the idols. 

Source –

The tale goes that during a festival observed as the bathing period ( Deva Snana Purnima), the deities of Jagannath temple are given a bath with 108 pots of cold water, to beat the summer heat. After this ceremony, the deities are believed to have fallen sick and suffering from fever. Hence, they do not go back to the “Garbha Griha”(inner temple) and are safely transferred to a place called “Anasara Pindi” for 15 days. It was during this period, that Pattachitra art paintings of Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra were created and kept in the temple so that devotees could worship them in the absence of the idols.

Source –

The Pattachitra paintings depicting the idols are also called “Anasara Patti” or “Anavasara Patti”. The making of this painting begins on Jyestha Amavasya (i.e. the new moon phase in the month of May-June as per the Hindu calendar). The cloth for making the Pattachitra art is received from the temple. A group of 10-15 Chitrakaras under the guidance of a chief artist illustrate the deities Shri Ananta Narayan, Shri Ananta Basudev and Goddess Bhubaneswari.

Each Patta painting is made up of old, starch-free cotton sarees. It is generally 5.5 feet long and 4 feet wide which takes around 15 days to finish.  

Pattachitra Art – The Palette

Pattachitra art is not only an intricate art form but also a sustainable one. The traditional style of creating a Pattachitra painting involves using organic colours. The traditional artists are not only close to religion but also preserve and appreciate the gifts of nature.

To create the white colour, sea shells are powdered, soaked, and heated to form a milky paste. 

Black is made by collecting the smoke from a burning wick on an earthen plate and thickening it. Kaitha gum and Bilwa fruit (wood apple or stone apple) are used as adhesives and mixed with natural powders. Green is derived from green leaves and stones.

Red is produced by grinding Hingula, a local stone found in Odisha, while yellow comes from another local stone, Harital. Khandaneela stone is used to make blue. These five primary colours, known as Pancha-Tatwa, hold significant meaning in Jagannath paintings and represent different emotions in the stories: white for laughter (Hasya), red for fury (Raudra), and yellow for astonishment (Adbhuta).

Krishna is depicted in blue and Rama in green. By mixing these primary colours, artists can create around 120 additional shades. The colours are blended in coconut shell bowls, and fine brushes are made from mouse hair, while coarser brushes use buffalo hair and keya root.

Talapatra Chitra, or palm-leaf engraving, is a unique Pattachitra style. Palm leaves are sun-dried for two to three months, soaked in water, and treated with a turmeric solution to ensure durability. The leaves are cut into sections, tied together, and made into scrolls for the artwork.

Overview – The Lives of Pattachitra Artists

Watch this interesting video to understand the humble lives of Chitrakaras and their passion towards creating Pattachitra art. It is a unique blend of religious beliefs and art. Together, they paint the vibrant culture and artistic heritage of India.

The art and artist always represent a synergy of divine energy and passion. Pattachitra art is a world in itself. Every motif speaks the language of the creator. It is uniquely defined by ancient texts, religious beliefs and the binding faith of the people of Odisha. 

Learn at Rooftop

Learn this beautiful art form of Odisha only at Rooftop. It is a unique platform that acts as a window to the rich art heritage of India. Join the offline or online workshops to understand the art of Pattachitra and dive deeper into the divine energy.

To learn more about Indian art exhibitions and galleries, download the Rooftop app from Google Play or App Store to stay updated on our upcoming art events and workshops. Stay tuned to rooftop blogs and follow us on @rooftop_app

By Sayali Parkar

Related Posts

Symbolism in Indian Art

Indian traditional art is a world in its own right. Its distinct language and symbols touch upon different aspects of life and life lessons....