The story telling art of Odisha patachitra dates from the 13thC CE, when the Sun Temple at Konark was built.
Now as then, the drawings are freehand. All that is used to achieve the exquisite intricacy are a few simple brushes made with fine squirrel hair, fastened tightly with cotton thread to a straight twig and a rock steady hand to hold it.
The outlines and drawings are made with lamp black bound with natural gum. A number of mineral and vegetable homemade dyes, including blues and greens extracted from seaweed, are used to fill in the colours.
Odisha is the land of the Hindu god, Vishnu. He is represented widely in patachitra and poetry as the mighty ‘Jagannatha’, lord of the world; through his ten incarnations as ‘Dasavatar’ – which include interestingly, one avatar as the brother of Krishna, Balarama, in place of Rama elsewhere in India; as
the endearing child Krishna himself in Krishna Leela; and as the flute-playing divine lover of the enchanted Radha, immortalised in Jayadev’s romantic ‘Gita Govinda’’.
Then there are recollections of the Sun Temple and of its sensuous themes such as Ras-leela, Shringar-ras, the romance of the seasons, idyllic village life and folk ballads.