In The Absence of Jagannatha (The Anasara Paintings Replacing The Jagannatha Icon In Puri and South Orissa)

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Item Code: NAJ927
Author: Eberhard Fischer, Haku Shah
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9789381523346
Pages: 116 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 12.0 inch x 9.0 inch
Weight 1 kg
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Book Description

About the Book


This "micro art history study" documents In its first part all known samples of anasara pati-paintings. i.e. annually produced pictures on cloth which serve as temporary replacements for the then absent wooden Icons In temples of Lord Jagannatha In Puri and South Orissa. Since the Iconography of this type of ritualistic paintings is defined by tradition and has to be strictly adhered to by the painters: changes In Iconographic details and even stylistic features can only be minimal. Nevertheless minor deviations occur. By carefully viewing these paintings the exact range of variations the scope for idiosyncrasies, personal liberties and preferences and the perpetuation of changes in the production of these religious pictures can be pointed out In the face of an Ideology advocated and severely controlled by temple authorities that doesn't permit something like "change" but believes In the permanence of eternal values and forms.


In the second part of the book the authors reconstruct the history of anasara-pictures. Here the focus IS on why do two different iconographies for the Jagannatha triad co-exist and under what conditions these painted "classical" triptychs may have been Invented and made to stay.


About the Author


Eberhard Fischer is an art historian and cultural anthropologist. Till recently he was the Director of the Museum Rietberg Zurich. Shifting attention from his early Interest In African art to the art and culture of India In 1965, he became deeply Involved first In the craft traditions of India, especially textiles, and then the mainstream Indian art. Having worked In different regions of India, from Gujarat to Orissa, from Himachal Pradesh to Kerala, he has written extensively, collaborating with a number of renowned colleagues: Among his most authoritative works are: Rural Craftsmen and their Work (with Haku Shah, 1971), Jaina Iconography I and II (with Jyotindra Jain. 1978), The Patola of Gujarat (with Alfred Buhler, 1979), Orissa. Kunst und Kultur In Nordost Indien (with Dinanath Pathy and Sitakant Mahapatra. 1980), Wonders of a Golden Age, 1987 and Pahan Masters Court Painters of Northern India (with BN Goswamy, 1992), Murals for Goddesses and Gods I with Dinanath Pathy, 1996), The Temple of Devi Kothi (with V.C. Ohri and Vijay Sharma, 2002), Amorous Delight The Amarushataka Palm-Leaf Manuscript (with Dinanath Pathy, 2006) and Gitagovinda (In German. with Dinanath Pathy, 2010) In addition he also wrote monographs on African art-regions like The Arts of the Dan In West Africa (with Hans Himmetheber, 1984 ) and Guro Masks, Performances and Master Carvers in Ivory Coast (2008), He was awarded Padma Shri by the President of India in 2011.


Dinanath Pathy a practising contemporary painter, art historian and creative writer. He has significantly researched Into the pictorial art traditions of Orissa, its traditional and contemporary nuances, has published extensively, designed and curated International exhibitions. He has been founder-principal of the BK College of Art and Crafts, Bhubaneswar, Secretary Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship and is currently Director Alice Boner Institute Varanasi. He is a renowned specialist for Orissan art history, especially painting and has published books like Mural Paintings In Orissa 1981, Traditional Paintings of Orissa, 1990; Essence of Orissan Paintings, 2001, The Painted Icons Wall Paintings of the Saura of South Orissa. 1996; The Temple of Jagannatha, Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Ritual. 2001 He collaborated with Eberhard Frscher since 1977 and Jointly with him produced a great number of research articles and books In English as well as In German like: Murals for Goddesses and Gods -the Tradition: of Osakothi Ritual Painting in Orissa. 1996 and Amorous Delight The Amarushataka Palm Leaf Manuscript, 2006. He Illustrated children books for UNICEF like Gita and her village In Indra, 1983 and Gita will be a dancer, 1986 (with Barbara and Eberhard Fischer). As a creative writer he produced innovative novels In Odia and won the Orissa Sahitya Akademi award for his Drawing Master of Digapahandi (2nd English edition, 2010).




The two authors have worked together since 1977. Fieldwork for this monograph has been undertaken mostly by Dinanath Pathy (together with Ramahari Jenal. We wrote the text jointly, for the most part in Oviga (Onsernone Valley) during several summer stays.


We thank Soubhagya Pathy, P. C. Dhir and Mama Studio in Puri, the Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad, and Nanny Boller, Isabelle Wettstein and Brigitte Kammerer at Museum Rietberg Zurich for additional photographic material.


We acknowledge important insights from the works of J. P. Das, G.C. Tripathi, Hermann Kulke and Helle Bundgaard.


The text was corrected by Christine Luisi, the manuscript finally copy-edited by Julie Pickard, London. This book was designed by Elizabeth Hefti, Winterthur, typesetting provided by Claudia Rossi, and colour separations were prepared by Thomas Humm, Matzingen. We are most thankful to our long-time colleagues for their professional collaboration.


This supplementum 49 of Artibus Asiae is produced in partnership with Niyogi Books, New Delhi and is printed in India. We thank Mr Bikash De Niyogi and his wife Tultul De Niyogi for undertaking this joint venture with us and supervising personally the final production of the book. We hope that by our cooperation this monograph will find its readership also outside the academic art-historical circles in the land of Lord Jagannatha.


Without Barbara Fischer, the hospitable and cheerful spirit of Oviga and Zurich, we two authors would not have been able to produce this book. We thank her for her generosity, all her care and support, and dedicate this outcome of many weeks' pleasurable work in solitude to her.




This monograph documents in its first part the few known authentic late 20th-century samples of anasara pati paintings from professional painter-workshops in Puri, Cuttack and South Orissa, and also gives the available information on their production and function. Since the iconography of these ritualistic paintings is defined by the authorities of the Jagannatha temple in Puri one of India's four most sacred sites (dhama) and has to be strictly adhered to by the painters, changes in iconographic details and even stylistic features can be only minimal within the life-span of one generation. Nevertheless minor deviations occur in the workshops at the centre (Puri) as well as at the periphery (Cuttack District and South Orissa). By carefully viewing existing samples, the exact range of variations, the scope for idiosyncrasies, personal liberties and preferences, and the perpetuation of minor changes in the production of these ritualistic pictures can be noted.


The essay thus serves as a study of "micro art history", spanning a period of only thirty years, documenting a kind of iconographic evolution, i.e. the minute changes of formal elements and style in the production of icon pictures that are annually painted afresh strictly adhering to given rules, repeating exactly but not copying mechanically existing forms in the face of an ideology advocated and severely controlled by temple authorities that doesn't permit something like "changes" but believes in the permanence of eternal values and forms.


In the second part of the book we try to reconstruct the history of anasara pictures, the painted icons used temporarily as replacements for the then-absent wooden cult images. Here we are interested in two main issues: (a) why do two different iconographies co-exist and (b) under what conditions might these painted "classical" triptychs have been invented and made to stay.


Not very much historic material is available for us to reconstruct the history of the Puri icons. We don't discuss the sophisticated theological discourses that must have taken place among the highly learned Brahmins of the Puri temple. We have focused on trying to understand how the interests of the pilgrims, the temple priests, saints and their followers were interrelated. For this we have combined hitherto unnoticed or at least not much emphasized information on the establishments and major events that gained importance for Puri in the 17th century with the evolution of the anasara pati iconography as it continues unbroken till today.


For a better understanding of the intriguing iconography and style of these two-dimensional temporary but annual replacements of the wooden icons, the question is raised as to why these pictures are so different from what they represent and what is normally worshipped by the priests and viewed by devotees in the Jagannatha temples of Orissa. This art-historical question is puzzling, but with new source material some conclusions can be presented.


Traditionally, the professional painters (citrakara) of Orissa produce pictures on cloth,' for which they use cotton rags glued together with tamarind paste to make thick sheets. These canvases (pata or pati) can later be rolled for storage. Their surface is first primed with chalk also mixed with tamarind paste; the actual painting is done with pigments, using elephant apple-tree juice (kaitha) as a binding medium. Finally, a painting will be shellacerf unless it is produced for a temporary function only. Customarily, the Orissan painters make use of six "primary" unmixed colours (white, yellow, red, ochre, blue, black and rarely in addition green, pink and orange wherever locally available). Their stock of motifs and their traditional repertory are rather limited. They produce (a) paintings used ritualistically in the Jagannatha temples, (b) souvenir pictures for pilgrims, and (c) pictures of other deities.' playing cards, erotic paintings and other illustrations for enjoyment' sold in the bazaars, besides (d) the production of murals especially for monastic institutions (mathas) and well-to-do private houses for festive occasions like marriages, and, to a smaller degree, (e) decorations on wooden boards, doors and pots for various profane as well as religious purposes.


In the last two centuries, the most important "patrons" of the professional painters" were the Jagannatha temples in Puri and the many former capitals of local rajas (gadajatas) and landlords (zamindars), where the numerous annual festivals were and still are celebrated? These events take place with fairs, where paintings are purchased by devotees as objects of remembrance, and less for actual worship in private homes, though these pata pictures are usually hung on the wall behind the house-shrines. In most towns with Jagannatha temples citrakara workshops exist of which the leading master (hakim or vindhani) is engaged by the temple authorities for regular service (seve) to the deity, i.e. to supply all art work necessary for the annual rituals in the Jagannatha-temple.


For the pilgrims, it is mostly pictures of the three wooden icons, so-called "pilgrim sheets" (jatri petes), that are painted (see fig. 6,7,154) 8 These bazaar pictures can be minimal with the triad plainly and very simply depicted." with routine brush work and few colours or elaborate images of the icons representing a specific festive appearance of the deities, i.e. showing the icons decorated with the costume ivese) as prescribed for that occasion. Even more detailed and minutely executed large-size pictures of the entire temple complex with the Jagannatha triad at the centre are painted (see fig. 45, 46). These emblematic representations of the sacred town of Puri (thia badhia) are visual reminders of the place with the imposing temple structure. Customarily, devotees whose wish had been fulfilled by the deity hung them as their donation on the walls of religious establishments (matha) of their home region, where they were signs of religious power but not used ceremoniously.


There exists, however, one group of ritual paintings on cloth, which is prepared solely for worship in the Jagannatha temples.'? These pictures (see fig. 51-102) represent the deities as sampura murtis in full frontal view as is necessary for worship." They form a triptych and are called anasara pati, which is derived from the Sanskrit term anavasara "having no interval of leisure." being busy, coming when there is no such interval" according to the Monier Williams Dictionary." Sanskrit ana-avasara has been corrupted to anasara in Oriya. In the terminology of the Puri temple priests, the anasara patis are often also referred to as "cloth-painting deity" (pati devata or pati devei, since these pictures are considered representations of the gods and goddesses.


Three such anasara pictures are annually prepared as a triptych by designated painters, who have received from the temple authorities the exclusive right to paint them for the worship of the Jagannatha triad. They represent the three deities Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balabhadra, and as a triptych temporarily replace the three wooden cult images in an iconic two-dimensional form and are then worshipped under the names of Narayana, Bhuvaneshvari and Ananta, respectively."








Part I


The Wooden Triad in the Jagannatha Temple


The Bathing Festival (Snana Yatra) and the Repainting of the Icons


The Production of Anasara Pat; Triptychs by the Citrekara Painters in Puri


The Worship of Painted Substitute Icons, the Anasara Pat; Triptychs


Part II


The Documented Anasara Pat; Triptychs from Orissa


Description of the "Zurich Anasara Pat; Triptych from Puri of c. 1990"


Iconographic and Stylistic Differences in Anasara Pat; Paintings from Puri Workshops


Jagannatha / Narayana






The Anasara Pat; Triptychs, No. 7a and 7b, from Manpur, Cuttack District


Anasara Pat; Triptychs from South Orissa


The Anasara Pat; Triptychs from Ganjam District


The Anasara Pat; Triptychs from Paralakhemandi and Jayapur


Similarities and Differences of Puri and South Orissan Anasara Pat; Triptychs


Appendix 1: Paintings for "Single Jagannatha" Icons


Appendix 2: Pictures as Temporary Replacements of Other Icons


Concluding Remarks


Part III


Reconstruction of a Historical Evolution of Anasara Pat; Triptychs in Puri


List of Figures





Sample Pages

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