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Item Code: PK04
Watercolor on PattiArtist Rabi Behera
Dimensions 24.0 inches X 37.0 inches
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Free delivery
Fully insured
Fully insured
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
Fair trade
Fair trade
This Pata-chitra, exceptional in its visual effect : a large canvas but with delightfully carved spaces imparting to it multi-perspectives, beautifully conceived and designed, and brilliantly coloured, represents some major episodes from the life of Krishna. The two episodes, one illustrating ‘vastra-harana’ : Krishna stealing Gopis’ apparels, and the other, subduing the venomous serpent Kaliya, in the centres of the two medallions, one reflecting Krishna’s romantic-socio-ethical vision, and the other, his persistent endeavour against evil and all that destroyed environment by poisoning it, index the dimensions around which the artist seems to have woven in his painting most of the events of his life.

A queer blend of verticality with horizontality, one, the inherent character of the canvas, and the other, the way it has been used, the painting has been divided into a rectangular middle consisting of two identical squares, each housing two concentric circles and a dividing band, and the vertically arranged side spaces. The partitioning band has been divided into ten vertical cubes representing Vishnu’s ten incarnations : Dasavatara : Fish, Tortoise, Boar, Narsimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Balarama, Buddha and Kalki. Typical to Orissa tradition, Lord Krishna, widely venerated as Vishnu’s eighth incarnation, is not included in this Dasavatara panel. Under Oriya Vaishnava cult, Krishna is not considered as Vishnu’s incarnation but as Himself Jagannatha, the Supreme, and all Vaishnava incarnations, to be Krishna’s incarnations.

The inner circle, towards the bottom, represents Krishna dancing over the hoods of the serpent Kaliya, its wives entreating Krishna for forgiving their husband, and that on the upper side, stealing apparels of Gopis bathing nude in the village pond, not permissible in social life, all praying Krishna to return them their clothes for without them they could not come out of water. Both outer circles, each consisting of fourteen oval windows, represent Rasa – the cosmic dance of Krishna. He is said to have multiplied his form as many times as were the Gopis to dance with each of them, independent and conjoint, eternally and overwhelming the entire space. Gopis, the separated selves, and Krishna, the Supreme Self, the rasa symbolises that the Supreme is always with one but one has to feel that presence.

The first medallion on the right in the top row represents Lord Vishnu reclining on the coils of great serpent Shesha; the second, Kansa’s sister Devaki wedding Vasudeva; the third, hearing the oracle Kansa inclines to kill Devaki; in the fourth, Devaki and Vasudeva in the prison of Mathura; in the fifth, Kansa killing Devaki’s first born; and the sixth, birth of Krishna, and Lord Vishnu appearing in the vision of Devaki and Vasudeva. The four of the medallions from top to bottom on the left represent four episodes relating to Krishna’s transfer from the prison to Nanda’s house; the fifth represents Krishna killing the she demon Putana; the sixth, killing one of the many demons that he killed; the seventh, Krishna looking for an opportunity to steal butter; and the last, mother Yashoda punishing Krishna for complaints against him.

The first two medallions from top downwards on the right seem to relate to dethroning Kansa; the third, a lesser known legend of archery competition that Kansa organises for killing Krishna; the fourth, Krishna playing on his flute; the fifth, Krishna and Balarama perhaps with mother Devaki; the sixth, perhaps Vasudeva with Devaki and Rohini, his other wife; the seventh, Balarama riding over the demon Pralambha that he later kills; and eighth, Krishna lifting mount Govardhana. The six medallions in the bottom row from right to left represent Krishna killing the horse demon Kesi; the cart demon Sakata; the python demon Aghasura; stealing butter with his friends’ help from a pot hung from the ceiling; killing bull demon Vatsa; and the sons of Yaksha Kuber, Mani Greeva and Nala Kubar, transformed into two trees, regaining their prior status from trees to Yakshas.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

Mastering the Ancient Technique: Exploring the Meticulous Creation of Pattachitra Paintings

The traditional Pattachitra is a scroll painting that is done on cloth. This is revealed in the name; Pattachitra is a Sanskrit term made from two words i.e. Patta meaning cloth and Chitra meaning picture. The main subject of this painting is portraying Hindu mythological narratives, scenes from religious texts, and folktales. Pattachitra paintings are especially practiced in eastern Indian states such as West Bengal and Odisha, and also in some parts of Bangladesh. This art form is closely related to Shri Jagannath and the tradition of the Vaishnava sect. It is believed that Pattachitra art originated in the 11th century and the people of Odisha practice it even today without any discrepancy. Bengalis use these scroll paintings for ritual purposes (as a visual device) during the performance of a song or Aarti.

Pattachitra paintings are characterized by creative and traditional motifs/designs, decorative borders, and bright colorful applications. The outline of the figure and motifs are bold and sharp. Some common shapes and motifs seen in these paintings are trees, flowers, leaves, elephants, and other creatures. The artists of Odisha and Bengal still use the traditional method of painting which gives a unique look to it altogether.

1. Canvas is prepared

The process of painting a Pattachitra begins by preparing the canvas (patta). Generally, cotton cloth is used for making the canvas. The local artists dip the cotton cloth in a mixture of tamarind seeds and water for a few days. The cloth is then taken out and dried in the sun. Now natural gum is applied over it to stick another layer of cotton cloth on it. Thus a thick layer of cotton cloth is formed. This layered cotton is sun-dried and a paste of chalk powder, tamarind, and gum is applied on both sides. The surface of the cloth is then rubbed with two different stones for smoothening and it is again dried. This process gives the cloth a leathery finish and it is now ready to be painted.


2. Natural colors are made using traditional method

The painters prepare and use vegetable and mineral colors for application in the painting. White color is made from conch shells, black is made by burning coconut shells, Hingula is used for red color, Ramaraja for blue, and Haritala for yellow.

3. Colors are filled in

The artist now makes a double-lined border on all four sides of the canvas. The local artists are so expert in painting that they do not draw figures and motifs with pencil but directly draw them with a brush. The paint brushes that the painters use are made of the hair of domestic animals, a bunch of which is tied to the end of a bamboo stick. The figures are now painted with natural colors using the indigenous brushes. The outline is thickened with black color.


4. Painting is given a finishing

Finally, the painting is varnished/glazed to protect it from any damage and to get a glossy shine on the surface.

The making of a Pattachitra is laborious work and therefore, one painting may sometimes take over a month to complete. Due to their classical look, these paintings are admired by people from all over the world. The artistic skills used in Pattachitra are passed down from one generation to another and thus are preserved to date.

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