Pattachitra or Patachitra is the ancient traditional and indigenous cloth based painting technique of Odisha and is highly known for its intricate details. The word Pattachitra is derived from Sanskrit words, “Patta” meaning canvas and “Chitra” meaning painting or picture. Thus, Pattachitra is painting which is done on canvas and makes use of rich colors, creative motifs and designs for mythological narratives and folktales.

Pattachitra is a traditional and popular art forms of Odisha, India and is inspired by Jagannath and Vaishava. The specialty of the painting is that, it uses colors that are natural and are fully made by Chitraakaras or Odiya Painter. The tradition of Pattachitra painting is more than thousand years old and is still practiced in the state.


The arts inscribed in “Pattachitra” resemble the ancient murals of Odisha and Lord Jagannath is taken as the source of the art form. The artform mainly shows the religious centers of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar region and the best works of the artform are found in and around Puri and especially in village of Raghurajpur. Other such regions were the artform is still being practiced in Paralakhemundi, Chikiti and Sonepur. The color schemes used in the artform are similar to the color schemes of deities of Puri. The wooden statues of the three deities of Puri are covered with cloth and are painted with the four limited colors of red, yellow, white and black. These deities also have their traditional art and painting which shows their life events and different tales and these are as old as the deities themselves.

Some of the popular tales or themes that are depicted in this art form are “Thia Badhia: A Depiction fo temple of Jagannath”, “Krishna Lila: Enactment of Jagannath as Lord Krishna and his powers displayed during his childhood”, “Panchamukhi: Depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five headed deity” etc. These themes are the soul of the art form and are the true reason behind the existence of this artform. The artform requires unbending concentration and careful craftmanship and it takes nearly five days of work for completing the art and it may take long or shorter period onnthe basis of the complexity of work and labour required.

Pattachitra showing Krishna Lila
Pattachitra showing Thia Badhia
Pattachitra showing Panchamukhi


Making of Pattachitra

While making Pattachitra following steps are followed:

  1. Making the Patta : Done with the help of tamarind paste and my soaking tamarind seeds in water for three days and then are crushed to make paste which is called Niryas Kalpa.
  2. Holding the two pieces of cloth together with the tamarind paste and coating a powder of soft clay to make it firm.
  3. After the cloth becomes dry, it is polished with rough stone followed by wood or smooth stone until the surface becomes smooth and leathery.
  4. The canvas is ready for being painted.
  5. Preparing the paste using naturally available raw materials to being about indigenous paints. This is the most important step in preparation of Pattachitra.
  6. The root of Keya plant is the most common ingredient used for making the brush and then the cloth is painted.


Pattachitra Wood Necklace

Pattachitra painting is a disciplined art form and the makers always stick to the use of natural products only for making Pattachitras. They have certain rules the follow and abide by while making an artform and end up creating remarkable paintings that depict emotions, tales, history, culture etc. and the Chitrakars try their best to being the most accurate expression through the use of the rich colorful motifs.

Pattachitra has came a long way and has gone through large number of transitions and the chitrakaras have painted on tussar silk and even on palm leaves. Wall hangings and showpieces are also being created. And all this is done by strictly following the rules and these have remained intact throughout generations.

Pattachitra Wall Hanging

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