Mahishasura Meets His End At The Feet Of Devi Durga

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If the spirit of the eastern delta peoples could be put into a picture, it would be the Devi Mahishasuramardini image. The beloved Durga-roopa of Devi Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva, is the embodiment of strength, dharma, and beauty. When all the deities of devaloka had failed to vanquish the arrogant Mahishasura (buffalo-demon), She had emerged in all Her ferociousness and invincibility, and put an end to him (‘mardini’ is Sanskrt for ‘slayeress’).

She has the roopa of the traditional Indian devi. Dressed in a statement red saree that contrasts gorgeously against Her dewy, olive complexion, Her ten arms (dashabhujadhari) bear a plethora of weapons and dharmic symbols. With one foot resting on Her trusty simhavahana, She pins down Mahishasura with the other and pierces Her spear into Him. At death’s door, he flails His muscular arms helplessly at Her feet. Her large lifelike eyes gaze straight ahead with determination and an expression of accomplishment. A couple of wrathful devis, with severed demon-heads in their hands, are depicted on the lower panel.

Tussar is the most sumptuous silk produced in the moist soils of the region. Its texture and the pale ivory natural colour form the perfect canvas for the rich pastels that make up the colour palette of traditional compositions such as this one.

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Item Code: PV20
Artist: Rabi Behera
Water Color Painting on Tussar Silk Folk Art From The Temple Town Puri (Orissa) Artist: Rabi Behera
Dimensions 22.5 inches X 35 inches
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Mastering the Ancient Technique: Exploring the Meticulous Creation of Pattachitra Paintings

The traditional Pattachitra is a scroll painting that is done on cloth. This is revealed in the name; Pattachitra is a Sanskrit term made from two words i.e. Patta meaning cloth and Chitra meaning picture. The main subject of this painting is portraying Hindu mythological narratives, scenes from religious texts, and folktales. Pattachitra paintings are especially practiced in eastern Indian states such as West Bengal and Odisha, and also in some parts of Bangladesh. This art form is closely related to Shri Jagannath and the tradition of the Vaishnava sect. It is believed that Pattachitra art originated in the 11th century and the people of Odisha practice it even today without any discrepancy. Bengalis use these scroll paintings for ritual purposes (as a visual device) during the performance of a song or Aarti.
Pattachitra paintings are characterized by creative and traditional motifs/designs, decorative borders, and bright colorful applications. The outline of the figure and motifs are bold and sharp. Some common shapes and motifs seen in these paintings are trees, flowers, leaves, elephants, and other creatures. The artists of Odisha and Bengal still use the traditional method of painting which gives a unique look to it altogether.

1. Canvas is prepared

The process of painting a Pattachitra begins by preparing the canvas (patta). Generally, cotton cloth is used for making the canvas. The local artists dip the cotton cloth in a mixture of tamarind seeds and water for a few days. The cloth is then taken out and dried in the sun. Now natural gum is applied over it to stick another layer of cotton cloth on it. Thus a thick layer of cotton cloth is formed. This layered cotton is sun-dried and a paste of chalk powder, tamarind, and gum is applied on both sides. The surface of the cloth is then rubbed with two different stones for smoothening and it is again dried. This process gives the cloth a leathery finish and it is now ready to be painted.

2. Natural colors are made using traditional method

The painters prepare and use vegetable and mineral colors for application in the painting. White color is made from conch shells, black is made by burning coconut shells, Hingula is used for red color, Ramaraja for blue, and Haritala for yellow.

3. Colors are filled in

The artist now makes a double-lined border on all four sides of the canvas. The local artists are so expert in painting that they do not draw figures and motifs with pencil but directly draw them with a brush. The paint brushes that the painters use are made of the hair of domestic animals, a bunch of which is tied to the end of a bamboo stick. The figures are now painted with natural colors using the indigenous brushes. The outline is thickened with black color.

4. Painting is given a finishing

Finally, the painting is varnished/glazed to protect it from any damage and to get a glossy shine on the surface.

The making of a Pattachitra is laborious work and therefore, one painting may sometimes take over a month to complete. Due to their classical look, these paintings are admired by people from all over the world. The artistic skills used in Pattachitra are passed down from one generation to another and thus are preserved to date.
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