Pattachitra Art

Pattachitra art is a type of art that originated thousands of years ago in the eastern states of India, it’s difficult to identify “pattachitra art belongs to which state: as this art originated when people used to go on pilgrimages, but widely it’s considered to be from Odisha and West Bengal. The term Pattachitra is a mix of two Sanskrit words, ‘Patta’ which stands for cloth and ‘Chitra’ which stands for a picture.

This article will discuss Pattachitra Art in the context of the UPSC Exam.

Latest Context:

  • Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his radio show Mann ki Baat praised a pattachitra artist from Odisha, Bhagyashree Sahu, for her amazing Pattachitra.
  • During the pandemic, Bhagyashree Sahu, one of the still rare female chitrakars, drew pattachitras on uncommon items such as unused bottles, different rock materials, electric bulbs etc bringing a new dawn in the story of Pattachitra; this is exactly what PM Modi praised her for.
  • Additionally, in recent times, through the efforts of pattachitra admirers such as Dipika Bajpai, Pattachitra art is being sold via social media.
  • During the pandemic when Dipika came to know of the plight of the artists in Odisha, she started posting their art on Twitter using it to bridge the gap between the artists and global audiences and ended up helping create an unexpected B2C transaction medium that has been doing extremely well. It has created a new way for Chitrakars to sell their art.
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History of Pattachitra art in India

  • Traditionally, Pattachitra art is a type of scroll painting depicting some kind of story or mythological incident.
  • There are two kinds of Pattachitra, one is known as ‘Jodano chitra’ where ‘jodano’ means wrapped.
  • It consists of a long vertical or horizontal scroll with different squares depicting different facets of a story or incidents.
  • They can be as long as 20 feet. The other kind is known as a ‘Chouko chitra’ where ‘chouko’ stands for square.
  • In this kind, there is one Isolated painting depicting a mythological incident.
  • Pattachitra arts tend to be extremely colourful and closely knitted without a lot of spaces or panoramic views.
  • While Pattachitra art has been traditionally used to depict mythological stories, they have also been used to transmit important messages.
  • For example, during British colonial rule, Pattachitra art was banned by them as they were being used to depict stories of revolution.
  • In the current times’ many Pattachitras depict important issues, such as environmental issues, societal and communal issues such as fascism and xenophobia, etc.
  • In Odisha, the state that is famous for leaf and sand art, Pattachitra originated as a way to paint stories of God Jagannath.
  • Over time, it became a way to tell mythological and folk tales.
  • Apart from the traditional kind of Pattachitra, a unique kind of Pattachitra that is made in Odisha is something called ‘Tala Pattachitra’, in this form of Pattachitra the painting is drawn on a palm leaf.
  • In West Bengal, however, Pattachitras were and are used to depict stories of Goddess Durga and other mythological stories.
  • A unique kind of Pattachitra that is done in some areas of West Bengal is Durga Sara Pattachitra.
  • In this form, the painting is made on hemispherical objects such as the bottom of a pot, and it’s used to depict Durga and her family.
  • This kind of Pattachitra is considered more of an idol than a painting and is worshipped by people.

Making of the Pattachitra Art

  • Pattachitra art is unique and difficult to make.
  • Its painters who are known as patuas or Chitrakars take pieces of cotton and cover them with a special tamarind paste, once that paint dries the painters directly start drawing on it without any initial sketches, the painters are that talented.
  • The paints that are used in Pattachitra are not traditional paints, they are all paints that are derived from natural sources such as berries, tree barks, etc.
  • Making those paints is a skill in itself. For example, the white colour that is used in Pattachitra consists of grounded seashells.
  • Pattachitra art is an extremely unique form of art and requires a high level of skill.
  • Each Chitrakar has its unique style, traditionally they would not teach this skill to anyone except their son, nowadays, some women have also started becoming Chitrakars.

Artisans who make Pattachitra Art

While Pattachitra art usually depicts stories of Hindu gods and mythologies, most patuas and chitrakars nowadays are Muslims. It’s very fascinating as those patuas follow Muslim religious traditions in their life but at the same time, they spend time painting and sharing Hindu stories and Scriptures.

Pattachitra Art Globally

  • Pattachitra art for the longest time has been widely known within India, but not so much globally.
  • While there were tourists who would buy them, and there have been award-winning patuas, Pattachitras were still somehow a sort of open secret.
  • In recent times though, due to digitisation and glocalisation, pattachitra arts have been becoming more and more known globally.
  • There are multiple blogs talking about the beauty of this art as well as many people trying to paint similar designs.
  • In recent times, Nestle too has tried to pay homage to this beautiful art form by depicting it on its cover.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pattachitra Art


What is Pattachitra Art?

Pattachitra Art is a type of ancient scroll painting that originated in eastern states of India, specifically in Odisha and West Bengal, although Odisha is widely regarded as the state that Pattachitra art originated in.


What is Pattachitra Art usually about?

They usually depict images of gods (Jaggannat most popularly), mythological stories and folklore.

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