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Odisha’s oldest art form ‘Pattachitra’ from 5th BC preserved in Raghurajpur

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Raghurajpur: Raghurajpur, a heritage village by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), which has become a major attraction for tourists, artists and explorers for preserving one of Odisha’s and India’s most revered art form ‘Pattachitra’, dating back to 5 BC.

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Pattachitra, a traditional painting style depicting folktales or mythological epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana. Raghurajpur artists also make Tussar paintings, palm leaf engravings, stone, wood carvings, colourful decorative murals, cow dung toys and artistic pieces. “The name Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas, and chitra, meaning picture. Pattachitra is thus a painting done on canvas, and is manifested by rich colourful application, creative motifs and designs, and portrayal of simple themes, mostly mythological in depiction.”

What makes the paintings more interesting is that colours used in it are all naturally extracted and being a disciplined art form, the ‘chitrakars’ or painters maintain rigidity in their use of colors and patterns.

As per Bijay Bariki, a National Awardee from Raghurajpur, “We are preserving this Heritage Art which we received from our ancestors, following the traditional way. There is a need for more promotion of the art form nationally and internationally.”

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The tassar cloth Pattachitra is also a quite popular artistic masterpiece. Whereas, the one etched on dried palm leaves is more often picked up by tourists as souvenirs.

The small village of Raghurajpur isn’t just known for its ‘Pattachitra’ but has also been home to Padma Bibhushan, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the greatest proponent of Odissi dance form, ‘Gotipua’ (a traditional dance form that is the precursor to Odissi classical dance).

To note, in 2000, after a two-year research and documentation project by INTACH, starting in 1998, the village was chosen to be developed as the state’s first heritage village after which it was developed as a crafts village.

“Our Traditional Art, Crafts and Handloom are on a priority for the State Government. To promote them, we regularly organise national-level trade fairs. This provides the Odiya artists a platform to directly promote the art outside the state as well as through the state government,” as per Vishal Dev, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism.

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So, if you want to witness this ancient artform and engross yourself into the awe of rich mythological stories of Indian epics; Mahabharat and Ramayana, do visit this small village of 200 homes, situated at a distance of about 15 kms from the beach city Puri.


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