Orissa Art: List of Top 15 Unique Art & Craft forms of Orissa
Orissa is a land of talent, craftsmanship, and not to forget her indigenous folklore. Colours line the streets. Be it street art of Bhubaneswar or the art by locals in front of their colourful homes. Being one of the top tourist destinations in India, craft and art forms of Orissa find a place among major things to see and do in this state.
Here we peek into the world of Odisha’s dexterous artisans and what they create. Read on to see the list of unique art and craft forms of Orissa.
One of the oldest, as well as prevalent art forms of Odisha, is Pattachitra. Just as the name suggests, Pattachitra is a combination of ‘Patta‘, meaning cloth/canvas, and ‘Chitra‘, meaning picture. This form of Orissa’s art, an amalgamation of naturally extracted bright colours, has its origin strongly linked to the temple traditions of Puri. Most of the artisans or ‘Chitrakars’ hail from one of the smaller villages of Puri, Raghurajpur. Popular illustration themes that are chosen by the Pattachitra Chitrakars revolve around various Hindu Gods and mythologies. Different forms of Lord Jagannath and Lord Ganesha are also quite common.
Trip to this picturesque hamlet to observe artisans live at worktops the list of things to do in Orissa!
2. TALA PATRA
Ever heard of literature being written on palm leaves? ‘Taali Oolas‘ aka manuscripts inscribed on Palm leaves have been a part of Indian tradition from time immemorial. Binding palm leaves together, etching out various epics followed in Indian mythology is yet another living art form in Orissa.
Tala Patra, another variation of Pattachitra, is a fascinating way of storytelling used by the ‘Chitrakars’ of Orissa. This again can be found practised by artisans of Raghurajpurvillage, Puri. Right from intricate wall hangings to cute bookmarks, these artists etch a world of tales on palm leaves.
3. HANDLOOM TEXTILES
A tour to Orissa would most certainly be incomplete without a visit to its crux, where various art forms still thrive.
Odisha is quite famous for its handloom textiles. One such village in Orissa where handloom industry still flourishes is Olasingha.
The technique of Ikat akaBandha is yet another Odisha special textile art. It is here that you can get single, double, as well as combined Ikat. Although this method of tie and dye is still practised in many areas, Sambalpur serves first on the list. A must-visit for all the saree lovers I would say!
4. PIPLI APPLIQUE WORKS
The word ‘Applique‘ would ring a bell in the minds of all fashion enthusiasts. It is nothing but weaving colourful and attractive designs cut out from one cloth onto another. Something trending in our fashion industry right? But guess what… applique works were part of art forms of Orissa from years before. Initially, to decorate chariots for the ‘Ratha Yatra’ at Jagannath Temple, Puri.
This temple art has been passed over generations and is practised by skilled artisans at Pipli, a small village near Bhubaneswar. Apart from serving temples, they also create a wide range of utilitarian and decorative items. These include wall hangings, clutches, lampshades, and even handbags.
5. METALWORKS AT BALAKATI
Ever wondered from where those beautiful metal idols at temples came from? What about those displayed at the lounges in hotels?
Situated in the district of Puri in Orissa, Balakati village is renowned for it’s brass and bell metal works. Apart from various utilitarian objects including utensils, temple articles are also crafted dexterously by these ‘Kansari’s’ aka craftsmen.
6. POTTERY AND TERRACOTTA
Kitchen necessities including pots and pans, to lamps and lamp holders, the potter’s list goes endless. Odisha is blessed with potters who skillfully mould life into the mud, yes, they make figurines for occasions as well as decorations. Terracotta toys of simple designs are also quite in demand.
7. WOOD CRAFTS
Orissa’s art and crafts are known to date back over to the Kalinga era. Artisans are known for their expert craftsmanship, for carving life into wood and stone. Wood carving crafts with extremely meticulous detailing are practised at various villages in and around Orissa.
Articles range wide from smaller polished wooden decorative showpieces to larger idols of Lord Jagannath. Items of practical use including bowls and ashtrays are also crafted with intricacy. Even though this handicraft is spread across Puri and Cuttack, the villages of Kandapara and Daspalla are famous for wooden handicrafts.
8. SAND ART
Sand art is a form of sculpture developed in Orissa whose details of origin still remain unclear. Even so, the place where to go looking for this art and its artisans is lucid. Yes, Puri beach is the destination if you are in search of sand sculptures. One can even find mentoring centres by Sudarshan Patnaik, a very famous sand artist.
If you’re a bit out of luck and couldn’t spot any sand sculptures at the beach, do not fret, you can visit the sand art museum en route Konark from Puri.
9. DHANA MURTHI – PADDY CRAFT OF ORISSA
Apart from paintings and sculptures, Orissa is also famous for the unique craft of making ‘murti’s’ aka idols using unhusked rice. It is also an art practised by the Mundas. Grains of rice are neatly woven using colourful threads between two bamboo silvers. These silvers are first soaked in water and dried for more pliability. Commonly made are the idols of Ganapati and figurines of the peacock. Areas around Koraput, Kalahandi, Balasore are known to be hosts to this spectacular art form.
10. SANTHAL AND SAURA PAINTING
Being the land of extremely gifted craftsmen, the arts and crafts of Odisha top our to-do list. That being so, your trip to Orissa is definitely incomplete without getting a glimpse into the world of Saura and Santhal artists.
The drawings created by these tribal communities narrate compelling ‘everyday stories’ with very few colours.
11. STONE CARVING’s OF ORISSA
Take a moment to soak in the beauty of these intricate stone carvings at various temples of Orissa.
Stone carving still lives in the heart of Orissa’a art. Right from temple architecture to ornamental showpieces are produced. Stones usually preferred by the sculptors are marble, black granite, or even soapstone. You can find such stone carvings being sold at the roadsides.
12. LACQUERED CRAFTS & BOTTLE ART
Quite irresistible are these souvenir bottles and lacquered crafts.
Such vibrant hand painted bottles carrying various motifs has made it to the list of the top art and craft forms of Odisha. Apart from copious stories of Gods and Goddesses, Warli art is also practised on bottle painting. Artisans may also prefer painting on dried coconut or arecanut.
Nabarangapur is a place world famous for lacquered items. Craftsmen here attractively livens articles including toys and bangles using Lac, the refuse of an insect.
13. PAPIER MACHE
Waste cloth, paper, seeds, gum, and clay, all creatively moulded to form colourful articles.
Yet another popular art form, or let’s say a souvenir to add to your collection, is papier mache. Most of the craftsmen over the state practice the art of papier mache.
14. DHOKRA – A TRIBAL ART FORM OF ORISSA
Heard of the ‘Lost wax casting’ technique?
Dhokra is an age old art form practiced by the tribal groups of Orissa. From drying the sculpted clay to coating wax and baking, Dhokra art involves many stages. These simple yet intricate creations undoubtedly rank among our list of must buy’s from Orissa
15. TUSSAR PATTA
Yet another skillful art followed by artisans in Orissa is the Tussar Patta. A cousin to Pattachitra, this is nothing but painting various Indian motifs on silk.