What is Pattachitra?

Firstly, the word ‘Pattachitra’ is sourced from two Sanskrit words: ‘patta’ (canvas) and ‘chitra (picture). Synonymous with Odisha, Pattachitra thus refers to a painting done on canvas.

Pattachitra artists from Odisha’s State Emporiums CP Raghurajpur village boast a breath-taking collection of this ancient art form. The village is popularly known as the ‘heritage village’ for unique and varied range of crafts being carried out there.

A skilled artisan is able to carve a splendid, flawless Pattachitra  painting only after years of practice. It takes from around 5-15 days to even several months to complete a single piece, depending upon details involved as well as size of the paintings.

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Popular Themes

Thia Badhia, where the temple of Jagannath is beautifully illustrated, Krishna Lila, which depicts Lord Jagannath as Krishna displaying his powers as a child, and Dasabatara Patti, where 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu are delineated, continue to inspire popular themes of ‘Pattachitra’.

These paintings attract the onlookers with their rich colourful application, rustic appearance and creative designs.


Painters or Chitrakars first work on the patta with the preparation of a tamarind paste. Tamarind seeds are used for this part of the agenda. Artists club two pieces of cloth together with this paste, and later coat it with soft clay stone powder.

Once the cloth is completely dried up, it is polished first with a rough stone and then a smooth stone to prepare the canvas for painting.

Use of 100% natural colors

Finally, what differentiates Pattachitra from other art forms is the use of 100% natural colors put together using ancient methods. For instance, conch shells are used to make white, hingula for red and a stone named harikala for yellow.

Nowadays, the art of Pattachitra has moved beyond the boundaries of canvas and cloth. Artists now make use of tussar silk and palm leaves and also paint murals on the exterior of their houses.


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