Pattachitra artisans reel under rich heritage, poor pay

Pattachitra ('Patta' means cloth in Sanskrit and 'Chitra' means picture) is a 2000-year old traditional folk art form in Odisha. Pattachitra is therefore a painting on a piece of cloth.

The base of the paint is done by making a paste of tamarind seeds and it is then applied on a cotton cloth. The cloth is then left to dry in the sun. The artists also use paints made from the scratch by grinding minerals such as white from conch shells.

These paintings are charecterised by religious motifs and it depicts stories of Shri Jagganath (Lord Krishna) and a pattachitra artwork of 1X1 foot may take a minimum of three days to complete. While Pattachitra art is famous all across Odisha, the finest work is found in Raghurajpur, a village in Odisha.

Patachitra-A Micro Scale Industry, a journal dated March 2018 by Subhamoy Banik and Utpal Kundu, takes a look at the challenges faced by the Pattachitra artists and the community as a whole in the present day. It states that a Pattachitra artist earns a mere Rs 5,000 to Rs 12,000 per month.

Suraj and Subhash, two such Pattachitra artists from Raghurajpur, spoke to SMBStory about the art form and also shared insights about their low income. They also said although they would want their children to learn this art form, they would not want them to adopt it as a profession due to low wages.

(Video: Mohit Sabharwal)

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