The very first thing that comes to our mind when we think about the art of Odisha is Raghurajpur and its Pattachitra paintings. Raghurajpur, a quiet hamlet located close to both Bhubaneswar & Puri is acclaimed to be the land of skillful artisans who intricately carve Pattachitra paintings. Having devoted themselves entirely towards this indigenous artwork, the creative maestros of this village have not just kept the art alive but have amazed the entire world with their masterpieces. Here’s some pointers concerning the artisans that will truly evoke a deep sense of gratitude for them.
1. The masterful artisans of Raghurajpur have kept alive an art form that traces its roots long back to 12th century AD
Deeply driven by the peerless passion and profound love for art, culture & ethos, the artisans of Raghurajpur have kept alive an intricate art form. The indigenous artwork of Pattachitra paintings practiced here derives its roots long back to the 12th Century A.D. The link of the Pattachitra paintings with Jagannath cult can be sighted during the Anasara period observed for 15 days each year. It is during this time that the trinity is worshipped in the form of Patta paintings in the temple.
2. A single Pattachitra art work takes about 5-15 days and some even months to complete.
The timing to carve one Pattachitra depends upon the level of intricacy and size of the paintings. However, it takes years of relentless practice, dedication and skill for an artisan to carve a flawless and magnificent piece. The hardship that involves in fabricating a piece of Pattachitra is immense!
3. Undaunted by the hardships involved, the children start learning this intricate art form at a very young age.
The schooling of the children to learn this traditional artwork starts from an age of 7-8 under the guidance of elders. The younger ones hone their skills by profoundly practicing on the slate, then descending to sheet and finally with all the expertise they get on to the canvas.
4. The ladies of this village have also picked up the task of bringing magic to the Patta paintings.
Traditionally only the men folk and the young boys worked on the paintings and the women were involved in menial tasks confined to preparing the canvas. However with advent of time, women have also been trained to be skilful enough for designing Patta paintings.
5. The creativity of these artisans is not just limited to paper and cloth; even the walls of their homes are a canvas.
Creativity has no bounds and the artists of Raghurajpur are the perfect example of it. Not just in canvas and cloth, you would also be amazed by the exquisite display of mural paintings on outer walls of most of their houses. These paintings on the walls depict mythological scenes from the Panchatantra, the Puranas, the Ramayan and the Mahabharat.
6. Raghurajpur is flocked by tourists round the year; not to see the typical village life but to learn and witness the intricate artwork practiced here.
The village is round the year flocked by both domestic and foreign tourists who visit to view in first-hand how such masterpieces are created. Many of the ardent art lovers and travelers even reside here for a short span of time to learn and behold the diverse set of art prevalent in the village.
7. The quintessential artwork of Pattachitra and other unique arts & crafts practiced in this quaint village helped it attain the status of the ‘Heritage Village.’
Raghurajpur is a unique place where one can find each family involved in one craft or the other. Besides Pattachitra, palm leaf engravings, stone carvings, papier mache toys and masks, wood carvings, wooden toys, cowdung toys, tusser paintings, Gotipua dance are widely practiced here. Recognizing such a wide range of arts and crafts practiced here, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in the year 2000 gave this place the status of the ‘Heritage village.’
8. Many of the artisans of Raghurajpur have been lauded both nationally and internationally .
Several artisans of the village have won the President’s awards for their excellence in `patta’ painting and palm leaf painting. The first to win President’s award was Jagannath Mohapatra in 1965. Thereafter following his footsteps many have brought laurels and fame to the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted the French President a painting titled Tree of Life, made by Bhaskar Mahapatra an artisan of Raghurajpur.
Raghurajpur is indeed a masterstroke in the cultural canvas of India. All hail the artisans and kudos to their dedication, passion and attitude with which they have been pursuing this unique artwork.