Pattachitra is traditional scroll painting from Orissa, India. The theme of paintings are based on Hindu mythology. The painting demonstrate the use of strong line and shining colors. The colors used in the painting are naturally sourced from vegetable & minerals. The name Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas, and chitra, meaning picture. This style of painting is also done on palm leaf.

The tradition of pattachitra painting in Orissa is very old. It is date back to the time of construction of Lord Jagannath Temple in 12th Century A.D.

Traditionally, these paintings were done by male. The patachitra painters are temple functionaries, living in and around Puri. Now, this painter community has spread beyond Puri district. Also they have begun using an assortment of non-religious themes in their paintings.

Surface: Cotton or silk cloth, palm leaf + imli, chalk powder & kaitha gum

Color: Traditionally 5 primary colors are used – white, black, red, blue & yellow. White is extracted from conch shell, black is from lamp soot, red from hingulal stone, blue from khandneela stone & yellow from hartal stone.  These extracts are individually boiled with gum of kaitha (elephant apple) fruit till the paste is formed.

Brush: Brushes of various sizes are made by tufts of hair tied together to the ends of bamboo twins with the help of thread. Over the knot liquid lac is applied to bind it firmly. Brushes of fine quality are prepared out of rat and squirrel hair and brushes of coarse quality are made out of buffalo-hair. Source http://orissa.gov.in

Pencil & eraser: To draw, sketch or outline before painting on the canvas

Rubbing stone: These stones are used for smoothening & shining the canvas, khadan stone to smoothen & chikana for shining.

Checkout http://www.aiacaonline.org/pdf/pattachitra-extended-documentation.pdf for tools details.

  1. Surface preparation: Processing of cotton canvas is a tedious task which starts from dipping of cotton in a solution of crushed imli seeds and water for 4‐5 days. The cloth is then taken out and sun dried.

    Thereafter, the cotton is placed on the imli (tamarind) solution and kaitha (wood apple) gum is applied over the layer of cloth. Another layer of processed cotton is placed over the previous layer and gum paste is applied on it, this is done to stick two layers. The layered cotton is then sun dried.

    After cotton is dry, a paste of chalk powder, imli and gum is applied on both side of the layered cloth and it is sun dried. After drying, khaddar stone is rubbed on the cloth several times for smoothening the canvas. When canvas is smooth then chikana stone is rubbed for shining the cloth.

    The canvas is ready for painting and can be stored and cut into required sizes for painting.

    Drawing & Painting: Borders are an integral part of painting and this is drawn first on the painting on all the four sides of the patta consisting of two or three lines according to the size of the painting. The outlines of the figures are drawn first with pencil and then very thin lines in white are drawn.

    The body colors are then added followed by coloring the attires. The figures are then adored with ornaments and colored. Outline of other motifs are then thickened with a thick brush with black color. Then small and fine decorative motifs are painted in white. It is interesting to note that the painting begins with white color and ends with it too. The eyeballs are the last to be inserted on the painting.  ….. From http://www.aiacaonline.org/pdf/pattachitra-extended-documentation.pdf

    Palm leaf pattachitra: It is drawn on palm leaf. First of all palm leaves are left for becoming hard after being taken from tree.Then these are sewn together to form like a canvas. The images are traced by using black or white ink to fill grooves etched on rows of equal-sized panels of palm leaf that are sewn together. These panels can also be easily folded like a fan and packed in a compact pile for better conservation. ….. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattachitra

    Visual demonstration

    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SDwoHAbvC4