Ten Armed Mahaganapti with Serpent Vasuki Stretched Over His Head (From the Ganesha Purana)

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Immensely detailed and in keeping with the iconography of the ten-armed form of Sri Ganesha, also known as Maha Ganapati, this monotone Ganesha Patachitra by Rabi Behra is a powerful Tantric representation of the Hindu elephant-faced deity, and a mesmerizing retelling of his victory over the pride of serpent Vasuki, who he has stretched over his head.

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Item Code: WRB312
Artist: Rabi Behera
Paata painting from OrissaARTIST:RABI BEHERA
Dimensions 30 inch Height X 18 inch Width
Weight: 300 gm
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The Sri Ganesha Patachitra is framed by a single black border, paralleled by a network of floral vines drawn with beautiful symmetry. In the foreground of the Patachitra, the massive and ornate throne of Sri Ganesha catches the eye, with its lotus petal-shaped decoration and three elephants and two peacocks attached to it, both animals a symbol of royalty. On the platform are two diminutive figures one of a gorgeous woman and the other of an ardent male devotee, bowing down to the majestic Maha Ganapati, their size an artistic trope to emphasize the enormousness of Sri Ganesha, who stands atop a fully blossomed lotus, in the Sampada-sthanaka posture (where weight is carried on both feet).

Adorned in the manner of a sovereign ruler, Sri Ganesha in this Patachitra is an enthralling image to behold. An exquisitely designed crown sits on his head decorated with lotus flowers, peacocks, and other auspicious motifs, followed by small earrings studded to his massive ears which have tendril-like patterns drawn on them and auspicious signs of Tripunda (three lines) and a Trishula (trident) on his forehead. The ornamentation on this Sri Ganesha Patachitra includes necklaces, armbands, bracelets, rings, waistbands, and anklets, all drawn with great attention to detail. Auspicious Hindu motifs such as the sun and the Svastika adorn Ganesha’s hands that carry various potent weapons with such delicate naturalism which brings to the Patachitra a distinctive realism. In his primary hands, Ganesha holds a bowl of Modaka (his favorite sweet) and a part of his broken tusk, combining the Maha Ganapati roopa (form) with his Ekadanta (Ek-one, danta-tooth) or single-tusked form. The attire of Maha Ganapati is exquisitely embellished with ethnic patterns all over and forms one of the most complexly patterned parts of this artwork, rivaled only by Ganesha’s own body which is covered in smaller Ganesha images- the most propitious image of all Hindu symbols.

Above the image of Maha Ganapati is a stately arch, similar to the structures of the great Hindu temples, ornamented with the anthropomorphic form of the “Kirtimukha” or the Face of Glory in the center and two Makara (mythical creatures, signifying royalty and divinity) on the sides. On the top of the arch, two celestial maidens or Apsara hold two ropes that are attached to the shrine, with which they appear to be carrying the temple of Ganesha and flying in the skies. Parallel to the arch of the shrine, a twisted body of a snake forms a second curve over Sri Ganesha’s head. The serpent can be identified as Vaasuki, with whom Maha Ganapati fought a vicious battle in the realm of the Nagas (serpents). Stretching him over his head jubilantly and effortlessly, Sri Ganesha in his Mahaganpati form declares his victory over Vaasuki.

Credit goes to Rabi Behra, for creating a divine visual experience by using a single shade on the canvas, relying on his mastered skills of detailing with impeccable clarity. An absorbing evocation to the powers of Maha Ganapati, this Patachitra of Sri Ganesha turns us into human and animal devotees, worshipping at the feet of the Lord of the Universe.

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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