Pattachitra originated in the state of Odisha in eastern India. The word “Pattachitra” is derived from two Sanskrit words, “patta” (meaning “cloth”) and “chitra” (meaning “picture” or “painting”). This art form has a history dating back over a thousand years and is deeply intertwined with Odisha’s rich cultural heritage. It has been traditionally practiced by a community of artists and storytellers, often called “chitrakars” or “pattachitrakars.”

Pattachitra art is heavily influenced by Hindu mythology and religious traditions. Many Pattachitra paintings depict stories from ancient Indian epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. These artworks are used in temples and religious processions as visual aids for storytelling, religious rituals, and to decorate sacred spaces.

Popularity and Effect on Society


Pattachitra paintings have gained popularity both within India and internationally. Their intricate details, vivid colors, and narrative storytelling have captivated art enthusiasts and collectors. These paintings have been exhibited in galleries and art museums, helping to preserve and promote this traditional art form.

Pattachitra has also had a positive effect on society by providing livelihoods for local artists and sustaining a cultural tradition. It has played a role in fostering a sense of cultural identity and pride among the people of Odisha. The art form has not only preserved age-old stories and legends but also promoted awareness of Odisha’s artistic heritage.

Current Status


Pattachitra continues to be a vibrant and living art form. While the traditional methods and themes persist, contemporary artists are also experimenting with new techniques and subjects to adapt to changing tastes and demands. This adaptation helps keep the tradition relevant and evolving.

Challenges to the Preservation of Pattachitra Art

Preserving traditional art forms like Pattachitra in the face of evolving cultural and economic landscapes is a complex endeavor. This subtopic explores the challenges that threaten the continuity of the Pattachitra technique, a centuries-old art form hailing from Odisha, India. Despite its rich history and cultural significance, the traditional art form faces various obstacles that jeopardize its survival. In this discussion, we delve into the factors contributing to these challenges and the efforts being made to safeguard the legacy of Pattachitra.


The technique of creating Pattachitra paintings is not necessarily getting extinct, but it does face several challenges that threaten its preservation and continuity. Some of the factors contributing to the challenges faced by this traditional art form include:

  1. Changing Lifestyles: Modernization and changing lifestyles have led to a decline in the number of artists practicing Pattachitra. Younger generations may be more inclined to pursue other professions and livelihoods, which could result in fewer people learning and continuing the art.
  2. Economic Challenges: Creating Pattachitra is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. Artists may not always receive adequate compensation for their work, making it difficult to sustain a livelihood solely through this art form.
  3. Competition from Mass-Produced Art: The availability of mass-produced art and decorative items in the market often undercuts the value of traditional handcrafted Pattachitra. This can make it challenging for artists to sell their work at a competitive price.
  4. Declining Patronage: Historically, Pattachitra artists were often supported by temples, royal families, and religious institutions. With changing times, this traditional patronage has diminished, impacting the financial support that artists receive.
  5. Lack of Infrastructure: The absence of proper infrastructure, such as art schools, training centers, and marketing avenues, can make it difficult for aspiring artists to learn the craft and establish themselves in the field.
  6. Environmental Factors: The use of natural pigments in Pattachitra is dependent on the availability of specific materials. Environmental changes and regulations may affect the sourcing of these natural pigments.

While these challenges do pose a risk to the continuation of the traditional Pattachitra technique, there are efforts to preserve and promote this art form. Organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, are working to support Pattachitra artists by providing training, market access, and opportunities for showcasing their work. Additionally, there is growing awareness and appreciation for traditional art forms like Pattachitra among art enthusiasts and collectors, which can help sustain the craft.

Artists Who Create Pattachitra


The artists who create Pattachitra are typically skilled artisans with a deep connection to their cultural roots. They are often born into families with a history of Pattachitra painting, and the art form is traditionally passed down through generations. These artists are not only painters but also storytellers, as they convey the narratives behind the paintings. The creation of Pattachitra involves a labor-intensive process that includes:

  1. Preparation of the Canvas: The canvas, often a piece of specially treated cloth or palm leaf, is first prepared with a mixture of chalk and gum to create a smooth surface.
  2. Drawing the Outline: The artists draw intricate and precise outlines for the artwork, often done freehand without the aid of stencils or guides.
  3. Coloring: The artists use natural pigments and dyes, which are made from a variety of materials such as crushed conch shells, minerals, and plant-based sources. They employ fine brushes made from animal hair for color application.
  4. Detailing: Pattachitra paintings are known for their fine details, which require great skill and patience. The artists often work meticulously to fill in intricate patterns and designs.
  5. Finishing: Once the painting is complete, it may be adorned with traditional borders and ready for display or sale.

The artists also play a vital role in preserving the traditional knowledge and techniques of Pattachitra by passing them on to the next generation. Many artists participate in workshops and cultural events to showcase their art and ensure its continuity.

In summary, Pattachitra is a cherished art form that remains an integral part of Odisha’s cultural identity. It has evolved over time, maintained its cultural significance, and continues to be appreciated for its artistic beauty and storytelling prowess.

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