Patachitra: The Traditional Hindu Paintings That “Come Alive” With The Chant Of A Woman

patachitra traditional hindu paintings
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In Bengal there is a place where paintings are sung frame by frame and tell ancient stories from the great Hindu epics and deities. This is the extraordinary art of Patachitra.

Patachitra is a general term for traditional, cloth-based scroll painting (from “Patta”=”cloth” and “Chitra”=”picture”). These paintings are based on Hindu mythology and specially inspired by Jagannath and Vaishnava sect.


Fully made in the old traditional way by Chitrakaras (Oriya Painters), they use only natural colours. This is the oldest and most popular art form of Odisha (formerly Orissa), India. This Bengali scroll tradition is an ancient one, featuring single image paintings or long vertical multi panelled scrolls known as ‘patas’ (paintings) or ‘jorana patas’ (scroll paintings).

Immersed in hypnotic colours and lines, this is one of the few genuine narrative pictorial folk art that has survived down to the present century. The peculiar art of Patachitra was used by religious preachers to propagate their religion. And thanks to this art people are also able to narrate both oral and written epics.

For a small fee (in cash or kind) the Chitrakar goes from village to village and from door to door, narrating the story people request. With the audience being composed mainly by Hindus, Muslims and sometimes Catholics, the themes are inspired by the sacred texts of these religions. But you can even hear (and see) political stories, given by the local authorities.

How do you like enjoying a painting? If you are used to look at it from the wall of a museum, now you can hear them along with the stories hidden behind them, sometimes brought to our century from the past.

Would you like to own one of these paintings? You can even find some on Amazon.


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