Raghurajpur is a heritage crafts village and haven of Pattachitra on Odisha state, 10 kms from Puri and 55 kms from the state capital Bhubaneshwar.
In Odisha there are several centres of patta paintings, but it is Raghurajpur, which is famous for this unique art. In local language the patta painters are known as chitrakars and the lane in which these painters or chitrakaras live is called Chitrakar Sahi.
There are about a 100 houses in the village and almost everyone is an artisan. They are Pattachitra painters, an art form which dates back to 5 BC. They also make traditional masks, stone idols, paper mache, sculptures, wooden toys.
Some of these artists have also won National Awards for their exceptional work. Amid scenic surroundings of coconut, palm and jackfruit groves, this village is an ideal getaway from Puri or Bhubaneshwar.
Raghurajpur is also reknowned for being the birthplace of Kelucharan Mohapatra, the renowned exponent of the Odissi dance form.
It is sad that at one point of time, these artisans were forced to get in to agriculture as they could not survive by selling their artworks.
In 1998, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) did a two year research and this village was chosen for being developed as the first heritage village to be developed as a crafts village. They trained the villagers on relearn traditional techniques and impliment them in their artworks. They learnt how to prepare plaster made of lime, sand, jute, molasses, lentils, curd, casein and local herbs such as trifala and bel.
Pattachitra is a combination of two words ‘Patta’ and ‘Chitra’. In local language ‘Patta’ means canvas or cloth or screen or veil and ‘chitra’ means picture, So Pattachitra means painting on cloth.
The tradition of pattachitra painting in Odisha is very old. It is date back to the time of construction of Lord Jagannath Temple in 12th Century A.D. The link between Lord Jagannath and Pattachitra painting has been proved during the famous bathing festival Debasnana Purnim of Jagannath Temple.
During this summer festival the Deities of the temple have a bath with 108 pots of cold water to fight the heat of summer. After this royal bath ceremony th Three Deities are sick and they stay away from the public view for a period of 15 days.
This period is known as ‘Anasara’. During this time three patta paintings of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra are worshipped in the temple.
These paintings are known as Anasar pati. Chitrakaras are also called to execute colourful paintings on the three chariots for the annual Car Festival. This proves the importance and acceptence of pattachitra in Jagannath Cult.
Themes of Patta Chitra:
The themes of Patta Chitra are mostly mythological, religious stories and folk lore. The paintings on Tussar saris, especially the Sambalpuri Saree depicting Mathura Vijay, Raslila and Ayodhya Vijay owe their origin to ‘Raghurajpur Pattachitra paintings’.
Some of the famous themes of pattachitra art are Rasa Lila, Vastra Haran, Kaliya Dalan, Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Nava Grahas (Nine Planets), Kanchi Avijana of Lord Jagannath, Panchamukhi Lord Hanuman and Panchamukhi Lord Ganesha. Apart from Raghurajpur, there are several centres of this art at Parlakhemundi, Champamal (Sonepur), Athgarh and Dinabandhupur (Dhenkanal).