Like most others, I am familiar with most palm leaf products like baskets, Manuscripts, fans, toys, boxes, rattles, etc. but, Palm Leaf Paintings? That was more like a distant term to me until I saw those Palm leaf paintings in person at Dakshina Chitra Craft Bazaar. This palm leaf paintings are very ancient and are one of the most popular art form of Odisha (An Indian state, formerly known as Orissa). Also known by the names of Palm Leaf Pattachitra and Tala Pattachitra (in Oriya), these miniature paintings often depict some religious events/stories or folk tales or just about anything from birds or animals.
Note: Pattachitra is a term refers to the art of painting on a cloth scroll and it is a traditional art form from Odisha.
From what I came to understand from the Artisan (DakshinaChitra), these paintings are done by the following method:
- Palm leaves are cleaned and dried.
- These pre-processed Leaves of same size are chosen and cut in to long and uniform strips of same size called panels.
- These palm leaf strips are sewn together and folded in such a way to form a pile. When expanded it forms a mat and exposes the drawings or paintings engraved underneath.
- Small etchings or engravings are made on these strips using a sharp needle like tool.
- Then black paint or dye is applied on these etchings thus defining the lines.
- Excess paint is removed by wiping these paint using a cotton fabric.
- These strips are etched and painted by taking one leaf strip at a time.
- These blank paint is called Kaajal or Kohl which is hand made by mixing water with the black carbon smoke collected by holding a plate over a lighted lamp.
- These palm leaf PattaChitra are often black and white colored where colors are minimized.
- Occasionally colors (vegetable dye) are also used just to emphasize the engravings or to fill up some empty space.
You can see some of the Palm Leaf Paintings below:
First picture is continuous, showing one main picture at the center, surrounded and separated by a decorative border design on four sides.
Here in this second picture, all the palm leaves are divided in to equal size squares and each square shows one small individual miniature carvings. Very interesting isn’t it!
In the below models, some additional layers are superimposed with circular windows, which upon opening, reveals another secret painting.
Some of his other Artworks on Palm Leaves: