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Chitrakars of Orissa

Chitrakar is a painter community belonging to Orissa. They are found mostly in and around Puri. They mainly make paintings related to Hinduism.

The Chitrakars are known for the ‘Jatri Patis’ or pilgrim paintings. These paintings, done on paper or cloth, is based on the famous Lord Jagannath Temple. These paintings are bought by the pilgrims visiting the temple, to be taken back as souvenirs.

On the occasion of the Ansara festival celebrated in the Lord Jagannath temple of Puri, the wooden idols of the deities are immersed in water during a bathing ritual called ‘snana yatra’. These idols get discolored because of water. Due to this discoloration, the deities are said to be ill and kept away from public display for about 15 days. This period is called ‘ansara’. In the absence of the main idols, substitute idols of the deities are kept in the temples. These substitute idols are painted by the Chitrakars. These artists are also involved in painting the various decorative objects used in festivals. The chariots used in the famous ‘Rath Yatra’ are painted by these artists.

The Chitrakars apart from painting also delve in woodcarving, palm-leaf etchings, papier-mache masks and other art forms. They are known for making ‘ganjifa,’ a playing card that originated during the time of Mughals.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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