The pattachitras of Puri are known for their distinct Vaishnava themes. Pattachitra is the name given to the regional folk art: images (‘chitra’) made on an endemic, handmade canvas (‘patta’). Rama and Krishna, the most widely loved avataras of Lord Vishnu, abound in the iconography produced in this temple town of Puri. The one that you see on this page, however, depicts one of the later Vishnu-avataras, the Shakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama.
This pattachitra is a composite of multiple images in panels of varying sizes. The one in the centre is the largest one. It depicts the shvetavastra-clad Buddha in padmasana, with His hands in the dharmachakra mudra and a brethren of monks turned towards Him with their hands in the namaskaram mudra. He is seated on a silver lotus. Hints of the canopy of the Bodhi tree could be seen from behind His multicoloured halo. This panel is flanked by two vertically positioned panels on either side, each of which depicts Him on the same silver lotus throne in different attitudes. A number of miniscule panels surround on all four sides the panels described so far. They are episodes from the life of the erstwhile Shakyamuni, the subject of legend and lessons of a deeply spiritual nature.
This pattachitra would be a valuable addition to the home of any art- or Buddha-lover. The colour palette is diverse, but almost exclusively comprising soothing pastels and shades of white. Evergreen vines on the upper corners of almost every panel adds to the aesthetic of the painting.
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