The Making of Palm Leaves paintings
Drawn symbols are probably the oldest way of preserving information. It all started with the depiction of life scenes in stone age caves to trading seals with the unpredictable script to written texts in books. Somewhere between the evolution of writing on a stone to paper came palm leaves. Hundreds of years back before a paper was invented people used to write on palm leaves. The Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata and many other manuscripts were written on palm leaves. Even though palm leaves were preceded by paper, many collections of manuscripts on palm leaves survive even today as they are stronger and more tensile than paper.
Hub of Pattachitras:
Though the palm leaves began as a depiction of stories, it soon turned to an art form of its own. This ancient art represents beautiful mythological figures of gods and goddesses, flowers, trees and animals. Even after the advancement of technology, this art form is made with care to every minute detail.
The villages of Orissa are the main centres of the pattachitras. The artists who make them are called chitrakars. Many chitrakars live in the village of Raghurajpur which lies in Puri district of Orissa.
The making of Pattachitras:
The process of making palm leaves paintings starts with the collection of palm leaves and sorting them according to their colour and texture. They are dried and cut into the required shape and size. These leaves are then dried in a mixture of turmeric and neem which makes them long lasting and also prevents them from decaying. The number of times the palm leaves are dipped in the solution determine their colour tone. They are then dried in the sunlight and stitched together to form a flat surface. The theme or the picture to be painted is drawn on this flat surface with a fine pen called ‘Lekhani’. Some painters have circular themes so they use iron cutters to run the story through circles.
Black, white, brown, red and yellow are the 5 colours used for palm leaves but black gives a more natural look. The leaves are washed as soon as the colour is applied to remove the excess paint. The other colours are applied with paint brushes. After painting the paintings are packed with decorative strings using a cotton cloth.
Unlike the other art forms which are struggling to maintain their old standards of finesse, Palm leaves painting are evolving at a higher quality of aesthetic and craftsmanship. The skilful hands of masters produce beautiful designs on the palm leaves. They can be a great gift and also beautiful decoration for your house.
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