Patachitra / Talapatra Paintings

The origin of Patachitra and Talpatra paintings is linked with the famous Jagannath temple of Puri, which was built around 10th century AD. The style has been kept alive over the centuries through the patronage of millions of pilgrims who come to the shrine of Jagannath and buy these paintings as souvenirs.

The delicate Talpatra paintings are made by fine line drawings etched with a steel stylus on rectangular strips of palm leaves that are delicately strung together. The paintings depict religious and mythological stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Krishna Lila, incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and most popularly, depiction of Lord Jagannath. Sometimes Talpatras also have little circular flap windows under which are clandestinely displayed amorous images from the Kama Sutra.

The Patachitras are believed to be one of the earliest indigenous paintings in the state of Orissa, traditionally painted by temple functionaries who lived in and around the temple town of Puri. In the present day, the largest concentration of Patachitra painters / chitrakars, mainly belonging to the Maharana and Mahapatra castes, live in the picturesque village of Raghurajpur, on the banks of river Bhargavi. This tradition is inherited in the form of a family sketch book, handed down over generations and cherished as a sacred possession.

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