Odisha, the land of dexterous artists and craftsmen, possesses a rich artistic tradition which enjoyed liberal patronage from the temples as well as the nobility. Diverse and varied, the enthralling craft-work of Odisha depicts the magic of the deft hands of these artisans and puts forth a perfect medium to get a glimpse of the spectacular world of a craftsmen’s imagination.
Here is a glimpse at the numerous art forms and crafts that reveal the ancient beauty and the refined skills of Odisha’s artisans.
1) Stone Carvings
In sculpture and temple architecture, there exists a large variety of motifs and styles. The artisans of Odisha have still retained the glorious tradition of stone carving which has created a niche in the history of art in India. As it is evident from the innumerable archaeological monuments, sculptures and temples built centuries ago, the art of carving in stone has made Odisha reach heights of excellence perfected through centuries of disciplined efforts and generations of artisans.
One of the traditional art form of Odisha is Pattachitra, paintings based on Hindu mythology. It is created on a special paper hand-made from tamarind seeds and the colors used are natural extracts from fruits & flowers. The colors are mixed in powdered shells from the ocean and the paste is used to make paintings, resulting in a beautiful form of art. Raghurajpur artists village in Puri is highly renowned for this art-form.
3) Sand Art
Carving of sculpture in sand or sand art as is popularly called has been historically rooted in Odisha. The lineage of this art dates back to a long time. One can find the mention of this art in the life story of Balaram Das, one of the most well known poets of Odisha. This poet was a prominent literary figure of the 14th century AD. The sand art was, therefore, one of the prevalent art forms of 14th century.
4) Silver Filigree
Of all the handicrafts of Odisha, silver filigree, the most unique & finest is locally called tarakasi. The craft is localized in the city of Cuttack and few of its villages. The process consists of drawing silver through a series of consecutively smaller holes to produce fine strands of wire.
5) Applique Works
Like pattachitra, applique work in Odisha also originated as a temple art. The artisans of Pipli have their mastery in applique art. Here colored cloths are stitched in various shapes. Saris and other attires are designed with applique work, which has gained a lot of popularity in International market. Tiny mirrors are stuck or stitched by thread embroidery to create a remarkable work of art.
6) Brass and Dhokra Works
Dhokra or bell metal craft is a tribal craft that combines metallurgical skills with wax technique to create things of distinctive beauty, practiced for over 4,000 years. It is thus a very old form of craft that is still practiced in some parts of Odisha. These tribal crafts people express their special worldview through their whimsical creations.
7) Paper Mache
Made from paper, waste cloth and different kinds of natural fibres, Paper Mache skill has been creatively practiced by crafts persons from all over Odisha since long. Masks, hand bags, toys are produced out of specially made papers in Odisha that are not only beautiful but strong and durable as well.
8) Horn Bone Craft
The inception of this art has been more than a century ago and its popularity has only grown year after year. Many utility as well as decorative things are made in this form and mostly the finished products look like the Filmfare lady. Black and beautiful! The surface throws off a dark somber sheen which catches the attention of all art-lovers. Parlakhemundi and Cuttack are famous for this artwork.
9) Palm Leaf Ethching
This art originated when written communication began. Messages and manuscripts were written on the palm leaf to be disseminated. Gradually the trend to decorate the text with images began and that became an art in itself. It is mostly practiced by the artists primarily residing in Puri and Cuttack.
10) Tassar Patta
Originating from an old tradition of engraved painting on palm leaves, these contemporary pieces are painted on silk by artists from a village in Odisha who are trained in this highly skilled technique.
The technique of Ikat is the tie and dye process which has trickled down from the Indonesian culture. Weaving in this technology started in Odisha. Although Odisha has adopted this process yet it has its own style of designing. Manually done, the intricate method of Ikat is subject to tying in sequences and dyeing the required areas in particular colors.
12) Coir Craft
Among the state’s greatest contributions to the arts and crafts of the country are the artefacts made from coir fibre. The lightweight, yellow coloured fibre is moulded into animal and bird designs as well as decorative items. Some of the popular animal figures include horses, crocodiles and dinosaurs.
13) Bottle Art
A true collector’s delight, these bottles are painted in captivating Odisha art, depicting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna. Unique, with a burst of colours, they make an irresistible buy!
14) Terracotta Crafts
Terracotta crafts are made in every part of Odisha. The crafts are exquisite in design and bear the traits of the locality in which they are produced.
15) Santhal & Saora Paintings
Tribal paintings are like prayers that become part of the offerings made to gods, ancestors and spirits. Members of the Saora tribe draw ritualistic pictographs on the inner walls of their mud dwellings called ‘Ittlans.’ Since they are basically the expressions of an agricultural community there is an emphasis on nature, the great outdoors and also on the cycle of ploughing, sowing & harvesting.