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Understanding The Motifs And Themes Of Pattachitra

India has been home to many kinds of art forms, some of which have survived the test of time. The modern art materials and colours have influenced the evolution of some art forms, , while others have remained the same.

In this article, Rooftop talks about the intricate motifs and the beautiful themes of Pattachitra that make it a distinctive art form. 

Image Source: Housenama

A Brief History Of Pattachitra

Pattachitra is a traditional style of painting from Odisha in India. It is an ancient art form that dates back to 5th century BC and is closely connected to the cultural heritage of the state. The word Pattachitra means “painting on cloth”. It refers to the fact that these paintings are typically done on cloth using natural pigments.

Pattachitra is unique in its own way because of the traditional methods used in their creation. Various techniques, natural dyes and pigments, and a special type of brush made from the hair of a squirrel’s tail* are used to create the paintings. Additionally, Pattachitra paintings are known for their vibrant colours, intricate details, and bold and fluid brushstrokes.

Another aspect that makes Pattachitra so fascinating is that it is a living tradition passed down through generations of artists, preserving the culture and heritage of Odisha.

Popular Themes Of Pattachitra

Image Source: Wikipedia

The themes of Pattachitra paintings are primarily religious in nature. They often depict scenes from Hindu mythology, particularly stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The scenes from religious stories, such as the temple of Jagannath in the theme ‘Thia Badhia’, or the childhood powers of Lord Krishna in the theme named ‘Krishna Leela’ are famous. 

Another popular subject in Pattachitra art is the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, known as ‘Dasabatara Patti’, and the depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity in the ‘Panchamukhi’ painting. These paintings are not only a visual representation of the local religious beliefs but are also a way to preserve the cultural heritage of the Jagannath cult.

In addition to religious themes, Pattachitra paintings also depict scenes from village markets, festivals, traditional dances, and nature. Some artists also produce Pattachitra paintings that depict more contemporary themes.

Intricate Motifs Used In Pattachitra

Image Source: Authindia

The motifs are an important aspect of the art as they convey stories and spiritual messages.

Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra are the main elements of Pattachitra painting. Thus they are usually painted in the centre of the canvas. One can find the beautiful motifs of  ‘Ashtabhuja Durga’, which symbolises power and protection, the ‘Natamandira’, which depicts a scene of devotional dance, the ‘Darubrahma’ which is a sacred tree that represents wisdom and spiritual enlightenment, and ‘Vishnu’ who is the preserver of life according to Hindu mythology.

These motifs are considered sacred and have deep spiritual significance in the culture of Odisha. They are a medium to narrate the stories, convey the messages of morality, and celebrate the rich cultural ethos of Odisha.

Use Of Vibrant Colours And Their Symbolism

Image Source: Wikipedia

In Pattachitra paintings, the colours have strong symbolism attached to them. For instance, red is believed to symbolise love, passion, and energy, while black symbolises mystery, depth, and authority. These colours’ usage goes beyond just their hue but also encompasses the saturation, the way they are mixed, their interaction with other colours in the artwork, and the overall composition.

The natural colours used in Pattachitra, combined with the intricate details and use of bold lines, give the art form its unique visual appeal and make it an essential part of Odisha’s cultural heritage.

Some Last Thoughts

Understanding the motifs and themes of Pattachitra will give you a deeper appreciation for this traditional art form and the rich cultural heritage it represents. This art form is a visual treat and a way to connect with our past, culture, and tradition.

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