Krishnaleela is the predominant theme in the folk art of Orissa. The temple-town of Puri is where the Krishna-loving culture thrives. The word ‘leela’ refers to the earthly conduct of the Vishnuavatara, which in the popular imagination is suggestive of playfulness and transience. The patta painting that you see on this page is a visual narrative of this Krishnaleela.
It is a composite pattachitra, a superfine example of the folk art of Orissa. The diamond-shaped panel at the very centre depicts Him with His beloved Radha and other gopis (milkmaids of Vrindavan). To its right, He is shown traversing the wilderness with His brother, His best friend, and the cow. To the left is the Kaliya-taming episode.
All of this is surrounded by a straight-line series of miniscule panels along the edges of the rectangular patta (canvas). Each of the panels as well as the spaces between the panels are infused with a remarkable degree of detail. The colour palette is uncomplicated: lots of ivory against black, with hints of ochre and yellow and orange.
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