Central & Western Orissa
Even at the most basic level Orissan paintings have a colour and vibrancy that are one of the most effective media of reflecting life. The painting on walls in
Orissa is almost as ancient as time, it seems... the simple but lovely filigree painting drawn on the walls of the tribal dwellings is a witness to this exquisite creativity.
Tribals such as the Juangs draw slender figures of men and women, flowers and fruits in white rice powder on the walls of their homes, while other groups embellish their walls with swirls of contrasting clays of the earth and decorate their homes with strokes that are simple but deft in their delineation of what they see around them.
The art of patachitra has been traditionally practised by the
Mahapatras or Maharanas, the professional painter-caste in
Orissa. The press of religious patronage brought this elegant and detailed art to a sophisticated art form.
It emerged as an important feature in the embellishment of Lord Jagannath in the inner-most sanctum, where paintings on specially treated cloth or
pata, of the deities, are done by the temple painter. Patachitra (an excellent religious souvenir) has also become more secular in its choice of subject matter. Strong traces of tribal, folk and bazar paintings are evident in the delineations on these
The most important palm-leaf manuscripts (chitra-pothies-the collection of painted palm-leaves stacked on top of each other and held together between painted wooden 'covers' by means of a string bored through these 'pages') have been those illustrating the Gita Govincla and other mythological stories. Some are housed at the Orissa State Museum while some are at New Delhi's National Museum.
Paintings created by the palm - leaf etching method can be formed by stringing rows of the rectangular leaves together. This can also be opened up like a fan.
The fine form of patachitra has been revived with great success at the artists' village of
Raghurajpur just outside Puri where over 200 families practise the art
revitalised from family sketch books handed down from generation to generation. The craftsmen accord great reverence to these family heirlooms which are worshipped along with the family deities.
The beautifully etched ganjapa cards or circular playing cards are highly popular locally. The old sets are also a collector's dream choice.
Paintings of Yogimath
At Yogimath the painting are clear and rendered in red-ochre lines. Usually the rear walls and ceilings are covered with paintings. While the painting on the walls follow a sequential, horizontal pattern, those on the ceiling have no definite scheme of composition. It is interesting to note that the paintings range from small geometrical and floral patterns to big animal motifs like deer, cattle, stag and sambar. Where human figures are present, they are shown as hunting, domesticating animals, fighting and dancing.
The pigments used by the rock painters are oxides of iron, which give the colours red and brown; white is derived from lime and green from copper compounds. These colours are mostly available near the rock shelters. Obviously primitive men, the ancestors of the
tribals of Central India and Western Orissa, have done these paintings. This rock tradition of pictorial painting is carried into the sent day in the mural paintings of
tribals. The paintings of the Saura tribals in Koraput and
Ganjam districts still retain the freshness and vigour of rock paintings.
Region: Tribal Areas of Orissa
Orissa has a rich tribal culture. The 'Sauras', the 'Kondhs' and the 'Santals' decorate their houses with motifs of flowers,
birds and geometrical designs. The 'Saura' paintings are intimately related to religious beliefs and drawn in order to appease demigods' and spirits. On the occasion of animal sacrifices, the
Sauras draw 'ittals' on their walls.
The themes of these paintings are usually dream sequences. A medley of objects such as a comb or even a bicycle map figure in modern
Saura paintings. The 'Kondh' wall paintings are generally in the form of geometrical designs.
Santals also paint their houses with figurative patterns.