are known for their bold lines and brilliant play of
colors. It is a hereditary art practiced by the family
of the painters usually living in the vicinities of
Initially, Raghurajpur and Dandasahi villages
in the district of Puri were the only centers where
the practitioners of this art lived but when temples
were erected in other places in the state the artists
spread in other areas like; Bolangir, Sambalpur, and
The preparation of Patachitra involves a double coarse
white cloth pasted together with an adhesive made in
tamarind seeds. The tamarind seed powder is soaked in
water overnight and then boiled to provide it a gummy
consistency. Sometimes, artist adds rice powder to the
mixture to give a stiffer feel to the canvas.
It is followed by a coat of tamarind paste, which is
applied, on both the sides of the cloth and the cloth
is left to dry. On the front face of the dried cloth,
a coat of soap stone powder mixed with tamarind paste
is applied. Finally, the canvas is burnished by rubbing
coarse grain and polished stones.
When the canvas is ready, the artist marks the border
area and outlines the central composition.
It is followed,
by painting the background in red, also known as pahili
ranga bhara or first coloring. In the subsequent stage,
the artist colors the figures, applies the red ornaments
and black details and completes the border decoration.
The central colors used in Patachitra are red, brick
red, yellow, white and lamp black. The painter employs
the various kinds of brushes.
It is interesting to note
that artists of Orissa do not use the squirrel hairbrushes
but the fine brushes made from the hairs of a mongoose
or rat, or the coarser brushes made from the hair of
a buffalo neck. In the past, artists also used kiya
plants for drawing thick lines.
When the artist completes the painting, a protective
lacquer glaze jausala is provided to the
painting. It is interesting to note that in earlier
times resin powder was sprinkled on the pata
and it was weighed with a bag of hot sand but today
mostly the artists apply synthetic varnish, which gives
a brown tint to the patachitras.
Patachitas have an important role in the temples of
Orissa. Each year, the painted wooden images of Jagannath,
Balabhadra, and Shubhadra are ritually given the holy
bath. This cleansing leads to the discoloration of the
images. Hence, they are removed from the garbha griha
for repainting. During this period, the temple images
are substituted for three patachitras representing the
The privilege of painting the patachitras is given
to only three families referred as hakimas. The painter
has to adhere to certain rules while painting the patachitras.
A new cloth measuring 120 cms by 90 cms is taken for
the painting. The artist completes the figures with
the exception of the eyes and gives it to the priest
who in turn performs a ritual,netrotsva
which induces life to the painting.
For tourists visiting Orissa, Patachitras form an important
souvenir item. For them, special souvenir mementos representing
the utsava image and the central sanctuary of the Puri
temple is painted on the patachitras.
Today, the fame of Orissa Patachitras for their brilliant
colors, and designs have spread all across the world
and they are considered as collectors item.