Blue-Skinned Nataraja And Nandi Vanquishing Apasmara

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A blue-skinned Shiva dances on the back of Apasmara. Apasmara, the pitiable, the epileptic, is a personification of avidya, which is best translated as ignorance. He lies overpowered at the feet of the cosmic annihilator, helplessly wielding a bloodied mace and flailing His limbs. The tandava (dance routine) of Lord Shiva spares neither dharma nor adharma. The stance of His body in this painting - chaturbhujadhari (possessed of four arms), a leg raised in the air, the mudra of the hands - is characteristic of His Nataraja roopa.

Clothed in little more than a tigerskin loincloth, the musculature of the great yogi is revealed in remarkable detail. His thick mane of waist-length hair flares about Him, akin to the flames rising from the shallow vessel in His left posterior hand. A quantum of raging flame is indispensable to the iconography of the destructive deity; while it symbolises all-consuming annihilation, the damroo tied to the neck of the trishoola in His posterior right hand, which He raises above His head, stands for srshti-naada.

A number of details adds to the general and spiritual aesthetics of the composition. The vahana of Shiva, Nandi, the bull, wedges its horns into the limbs of the defeated Apasmara. The hump of its milk-white back is decorated like the sacred Shivalingam. From the ash-coloured mounds of the landscape rise a variety of high shrubbery executed in a diverse palette of colours. The pale ivory skies of the background bring out the vibrant colours of the foreground as well as the motif-lades edges.

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Item Code: PZ08
Artist: Rabi Behera
Orissa's Paata Painting Water Color on Tussar Silk Rabi Behera
Dimensions 12.3 inch X 18.5 inch
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100% Made in India
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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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