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Traditional'PATTA' Painting Of Orissa
ByRamanendra Mohapatra

In the past, Orissa had a glorious school of painting. This school could be compared to the kangra and Pahri styles, as far as the indigenousness is concerned. That old tradition of Orissan painting still survives to-day in the skilled hands of Chitrakaras (traditional painters) in Puri, Raghurajpur, Paralakhemundi, Chikiti and Sonepur. Though we do not find the seductive charm of delicate "Kangra Kalam' in the Orissan Painting, it presents a vigorous style with a dexterous play of bold lines and bright colours quite captivating to the eye.

The paintings of Orissa can be divided into three categories from the point of view of medium, i.e. paintings on cloth or 'Patta Chitra', paintings on walls or 'Bhitti Chitra' and palm leaf engravings or "Tala Patra Chitra' or "Pothi, Chitra'. The style of all these remains more or less the same at a specific time because the then artists were commissioned to work in all these media, it is believed.

In the past professionerise, there was no distinct separation between the master painters and master sculptors; so the possibility of a simultaneous origin of painting and sculptural art in Orissa can not be ruled out. Even today in Orissa, these two crafts are combined inone and these artists and known as Chitrakaras, their title remains mostly Mohapatra or Maharana. Strangely enough, painting appeared in Orissa rather later, several centuries after the construction of the great temples of Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark. Today, we do not find many of these old paintings inside the temples because many of them have been destroyed due to the ravages of time and tropical climate. We only see the new ones or the redone paintings on the walls of the temples. But here exists a good number of paintings from 18th century onwards in many temples and Mathas especially in the southern districts of Orissa which have remained unknown and comparatively neglected in publications on Indian Paints. Orissa had drawn the attention of art scholars since long. But still, a specific school of Orissan Painting is yet to be founded.

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