Odisha’s Pattachitra – Pen, ink and palm leaves

The making of a Pattachitra, the traditional art of Raghurajpur in Odisha

The making of a Pattachitra, the traditional art of Raghurajpur in Odisha

Chennai’s Dakshina Chitra – literally, picture of the south – offers a fabulous introduction to crafts, traditions and architecture of the four south Indian states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and undivided Andhra Pradesh. At the crafts bazaar, however, artists from many more states show their work. While visiting Dakshina Chitra during the Great East Coast Road Drive in August 2013, photographer Azhar and I came upon a pleasant young man from Odisha (whose name now evades my memory) who smiled a greeting at us and invited us to watch as he demonstrated his craft.

Pattachitra (literally patta = cloth; chitra = art/painting/picture) is of two types: painting on canvas, and etching on palm leaves. The finest Pattachitra work, depicting themes from Vaishnavite legends of Krishna and his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra, and Lord Vishnu (Sri Jagannath of Puri), come from a few villages near Puri, most notably Raghurajpur.

When this artist began talking impromptu and demonstrating his craft, Azhar (who had only his iPhone within reach) started shooting. The result is this completely unstilted video with all its rough edges. But you’ll enjoy it, I hope.

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