A sharp right turn on the Bhubaneswar Road at
Chandanpur Bazar, emerald flow of river Bhargavi on my left, then another right
turn and I was at Raghurajpur, the famous and first heritage and craft village
developed by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art
and Cultural Heritage) in 2000.
Raghurajpur is approximately 14 km away from Puri and it takes 45 minutes to reach Bhubaneswar from here. It took almost an hour for me to reach here from Puri.
As my car paced slowly along the narrow lane into the village, its vibrant colourful atmosphere woke my tired eyes up. The entrance of the Village has a wide lane, but it is divided into three parts: the middle part is adorned with temples and on the both side of it runs two comparative narrow lanes flanked by lines of houses of the local artists. Each wall is painted with traditional art form. The main temple of the village is Raghunath Temple. There is a secondary school at the entrance of the village. My driver Suraj took me straight to Akruti Handicraft Studio.
From Akruti Handicraft
The small room of the artist is overflowing with Pattachitra, Dokra crafts, painted bottles and coconuts. Suddenly my eyes stood at a framed certificate – the artist, Laxmidhar Subuddhi, is a National Award Winner for Palm leaf Engraving craft.
His pattachitra paintings, paintings on tusser silk are excellent specimens of intricacy and imagination. Every piece of painting tells a story – mythological stories of India. The stories are taken from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and from the Vaishnav Padabali but often the artist mixes his imagination to give the commonly known stories an artistically unique dimension.
Pattachitra from Akruti Handicraft
Patience is probably the only word that would explain his palm leaf engravings the best. An iron stylus and a prepared palm leaf (soaked and dried and then made even) talks to each other for months and their story is published to keep an art lover spellbound and mesmerised. These are coloured with Kajal only to intensify the filigree figures on the leafy background. A piece of this art is a priced possession to any connoisseur of art.
1.Laxmidharji with the Palm leaf Art for which he got National Award. 2.Palm leaf Engraving. 3.Pattachitra: stories of Lord Ganesha
He gave me a visitor’s comment book full of comments from foreign visitors who also stayed at his home. A warm invitation to stay with his family next time filled my heart with joy and regard.
My visit to Abhimanyu’s studio was really enjoyable. Abhimanyu, a young enthusiastic artist, is trying to find out the excellency in blending the classical art with traditional pattachitra art. He belongs to an artist family, both his parents and his deceased grandfather, all are pattachitra artists.
1. Jagannatha in artists imagination 2.Pattachitra by Abhimanyu. 3.Abhimanyu with his experimental art
His pattachitra craft shows his eagerness to learn and create. I liked his respect to his tradition and his urge to bring the best of him to the outer world. I wish him very best in his venture.
A 95 year old Pattachitra made by the grandfather of Abhimanyu
What is Patta ?
Patta is made of two cotton cloth (used) pieces. These two pieces are glued together with gum made from Tamarind seeds. Then the cotton piece is polished with chalk stone and next it is made even with water and sandstone polishing. It is dried and patta is ready for painting.
Which colours are used for Pattachitra painting?
Six principal colours – White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Red and Saffron – are made organically. White is made from Conch shells, Black from Kajal, Blue from Khanda neel, Red from Hingul stone, Saffron from Red Ochre and Yellow from Haritala stone. These colours are mixed with the gum made from Wood Apple tree while painting on the patta.
From the left Red Ochre, Hingul, Haritala, Khanda neel, White Conch and in the right corner at back is the gum from wood apple tree, left corner is Kajal
Earlier artists prepared brushes from rat hair, now there are many improved versions, of course.
A brush made from rat hair
How was this village built?
King set up this village with 40 artist families to paint according to his order but now there are more than 120 families who are working tirelessly to make their tradition internationally acclaimed.
Returning empty-handed from this fair of art and colour is completely impossible. There is something for everybody to buy. Small painted beetle nut costs Rs. 20/-, painted coconut Rs. 100/-, Pattachitra paintings start from Rs. 600/- and the costly piece is the palmleaf engravings which starts from Rs.3000/-.
So, pack your bag soon. Ready, steady and travel to Raghurajpur. Don’t forget to carry your camera because you cannot buy all that you would wish.
Mr. Laxmidhar Subudhi ( Akruti Handicraft)
Mob: 7735080209, 9861425712
Maa Bagalamukhi Arts
I am thankful to Abhimanyu for describing me the details of Patta and its painting technique.