Many Crafts - One Place: Odisha

During the ancient times, the Kalinga region was untouched by the influence of Brahmanical culture. Most of the local inhabitants of the bygone era were the tribal communities who followed completely different cultural traditions. However, by the 15th century, the region was affected by the Brahmanical traditions and the prevailing social customs slowly began to change. The land of Odisha has undergone several changes in terms of its boundaries since ancient ages. It was also known by different names like Kalinga, South Kosala or Utkala in different eras. According to Mahabharata and some Puranas, the prince Kalinga founded the kingdom of Kalinga, in the current day region of coastal Odisha, including the North Sircars. The Mahabharata also mentions one Srutayudha as the king of the Kalinga kingdom, who joined the Kaurava camp. In the Buddhist text, Mahagovinda Suttanta, Kalinga and its ruler, Sattabhu, have been mentioned. Emperor Ashoka was highly moved by the pitiable condition of the innocent people who lost their near and dear ones in the ruthless fight between two rulers. After the Kalinga War, Emperor Ashoka adopted Buddhism and preached peace and harmony. Under the able guidance of Emperor Ashoka, literature, language, music and dance flourished during the ancient times.

Tribal and folk culture of India has an impeccable power. They reflect innocence, a purity of heart and honesty. The sublimity lies in its simplicity. I find the folklore cultures to be extra-somatic that brings in joy in life. Something unbiased, unmixed that has a lot to give..unfold the folkloric tradition of Odisha with me.

Odisha (formerly Orissa) has an art and craft that are the products of a long historical process in which the spiritual, philosophical and the human dimensions have merged to yield the finest effects of a cultured and civilised life. This art and craft only have made the state a land of rich and diverse artistic achievements. The cultural heritage of Odisha is reflected in its vibrant art forms. Having distinct traditions of painting, architecture, sculpture, handicrafts, music and dance, Odisha boasts of a long and rich cultural heritage. Due to the regions of many different rulers, the culture, arts, and crafts of the state underwent many changes, imitations, assimilations and new creations from time to time. Yet, the artistic skill of the Oriya Art & Crafts Information is unsurpassable in the world. Here I am going to talk about handicraft items Odisha is best known for.

The sacred environs of Lord Jagannath temple, the eroticism of Konark's Sun temple, the wondrous caves of Jainism, the mystical monasteries of Buddhism, the paintings of folklore and the weaver's magic; all stand as meek evidence of an eloquent past and continuing golden present of Odisha (Orissa). Dance and music form an inseparable part of the rich culture of the state. The exotic classical dance of the region evolved from the cult of the 'devadasis' or female temple dancers. Folk dances like 'Chhow' and 'Sambalpuri' along with tribal dances like 'Ghumura' & 'Paraja' leave every spirit truly elated. Then there are fairs like 'Bali Jatra' that come as a reminder of ancient maritime links with Bali. And to the crown, it all is the universally-acclaimed 'Rathyatra' of Lord Jagannath which has become an absolute synonym to Orissan culture.

Dhokra: Dhokra is a typical tribal art form and practised by tribal families. Dhokra is an alloy of brass, nickel, and zinc which emanates antique look. It is used to cast beautiful designs of lamps, boxes, tribal figures and Gods, and Goddess. The motifs are mostly inspired by the folk culture. The traditional dhokra work is a typical tribal craft in bronze with its mesh like features giving it a distinctive beauty.The tribal families of Sadeibareni a village near Dhenkanal town produces this unusual craft.Metal craft reached perfection in Orissa with a range of indigenous designs being created by its craftsmen, with craftsmen churning out numerous religious and gift items.

Textile Industry: Odisha's traditional appliqué art is used to make handicrafts and furnishings. Predominantly used colours are red, white, black, green and yellow. Pipli, Butapalli, Khallikote, Tushra and Chikiti are centres known for this colourful craft, creating umbrellas, canopies, fans and lampshades. Applique art has been inspired by religion, and continue to offer shade to Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. The distinctive hand-woven textiles of Odisha (Orissa) in unusual patterns and vibrant colours have supported a thriving cottage industry employing thousands. Odisha is famous for its silk ikat weaves created by an intricate process called the "bandha" in which warp and weft threads are tie-dyed to produce the pattern on the loom while weaving. Typical design motifs include rows of birds and animals, fish, seashells, rudraksh beads and temple spires.

Handicraft: Having an ancient tradition of making splendid pieces of art by hands Oriya artists have long been presenting their awe-inspiring masterpieces to the world. There are a lot of handicrafts that have been running as the life force in the cultural land of Odisha (Orissa). Some of which include- PataChitra, Sand Art, Metal Work, Silver Filigree, Stone Carving and making Puppets and Masks etc.
Patta chitras are miniature paintings, used as wall hangings with religious themes as their subject matter. Legends from the lives of Lord Krishna are mainly depicted on this specially treated cloth known as Patta. Developed over the years, this art form has helped a distinct school of painting to evolve. Having its origin in the Sanskrit language, the word Patta Chitra literally means a painted piece of cloth. This ritualistic art observes a fine blend of sophisticated art and folk element in the form of rich colours. The skilled hands of the talented artisans present blood red, red ochre, lamp black, yellow, white and indigo in a unique way as they pretend to be offsetting each other. These pattas are carried back home by pilgrims to Puri as precious mementoes. Practised widely in Raghurajpur and Dandshahi villages at the outskirts of Puri, these pattas have become synonymous with the place.

Tribal Culture: As you journey through plain land or the beautiful mountains and forest ghatroads you'll come across villages of very ornamental, colourful tribal groups. You can visit typical Orissan villages as well as semi-Tribal villages through the beautiful countryside forest. At Rayagada, you can stay and see the Kutia Kandha tribe or go on to Chatikona to witness the interesting and colourful weekly market of the tribes. Then drive to Jaipur and visit some tribal villages en route and then proceed to witness the most primitive 'Bonda' market. Despite belonging to different linguistic divisions, the tribes of Odisha (Orissa) have many socio-cultural similarities, and together they characterise the notion of tribalism. Tribal societies share certain common characteristics and by these, they are distinguished from complex or advanced societies. In India, tribal societies have remained outside the main historical current of the civilisation for centuries. Therefore, they manifest cultural features signifying a primitive level of socio-cultural existence. Considering the general features of their eco-system, traditional economy, supernatural beliefs and practices, and recent impacts of modernization, the tribes of Odisha (Orissa) can be classified into six types: hunting, collecting and gathering type, cattle-herder type, simple artisan type, hill and shifting cultivation type, settled agriculture type, and industrial urban worker type. Each type has a distinct style of life which can be best understood in the paradigm of nature, man and spirit complex, that is, on the basis of a relationship with nature, fellow men and the supernatural.

Paintings of various kind: The findings of rock paintings and pictographic writings in the Western part of Odisha (Orissa), Vikramkhol in Jharsuguda, Manikmada and Ushakothi in Sundergarh, Gudahandi in Kalahandi and Jogimath in Nuapada district indicate the existence of prehistoric art in Odisha (Orissa).

Patachitras - The tribal, the folk and the classical are the three streams of the Orissa School of Painting. The classical Orissan painting, patachitras is painted on a specially prepared cloth (patta), coated with earth to stiffen it and finally finished with lacquer after painting, producing motifs in vibrant colours. Pattas are now used as wall hangings. The subject matter of patta paintings is closely connected with the Jagannath cult and the episodes from Ram and Krishna life. Pattas showing in scenes of Rasa Lila, Vastra Haran, Kaliya Dalan images of Lord Jagannath musical themes of eroticism, nature and wildlife and sets of ganjapa cards, small circular cards made in sets of 96 discs, executed in vigorous folk style are special. The traditional chitrakars (painters) have the honour of painting the Puri temple deities and their chariots every year.

Palm leaves (Chitra pothi) have long been used as writing materials. An exclusive indigenous tradition of Odisha, the craft of palm leaf manuscripts dates back to the medieval period. With the help of an iron pen or stylus (lohankantaka), the artist first inscribes the text or design on the surface of palm leaves, then applies a paste of tamarind seed, oil and charcoal. When the residue is rubbed off, the groove stands out distinctly. Usually, the legends of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, images of gods and goddess, nature and wildlife themes are presented. The visual effects are enhanced using the vibrant vegetable and mineral colours. Romantic figures drawn on small leaves now serve as bookmarks, greeting cards and playing cards. Of late, the traditional artists clustered in the village of Raghurajpur, about 50 km from Bhubaneswar have revived this art from.

The tribal paintings are intimately related to their religious beliefs and drawn to appease their deities. Idital is the ethnic painting of the Saora tribe usually depicting everyday like along -with the concepts of retribution, punishment and rewards. The Saora artists use right angled triangles to cast the anthropocentric world in different moods and emotions. The Kondhs paint the walls of their houses with geometric patterns, called Manji Gunda while the Santal paint the figurative designs. Wall paintings of Paudi Bhuyan reflect about agriculture whereas the wall paintings of Juang include animals, birds and flowers.


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