pata chitra (Painting)

About this object

History of use

Puri for centuries has been a seaside resort for Bengali tourists and also the centre for the popular north Eastern Hindu Vaishnavite god, Jagannath. It has thousands of visitors each year. Low caste Hindu painters, adjacent to the Jagannath Temple, produce these paintings which traditionally appealed mostly to pilgrims but now are usually purchased by tourists. Paintings deal with a variety of Saivite and Vaishnavite themes. Although it developed in conjunction with and was influenced by iconographical and stylistic developments of art of the classical kingdoms, the folk style of painting was exemplified by Puri painters (and also in Bengal and Bihar) as having a short and continuing unique tradition of its own.

Cultural context

devotional and tourist sales

Iconographic meaning

Depicts typically Hindu romantic lovers, the cowherd flutist, Krishna and Radha in sexual embrace. Krishna holds his symbol, the flute, on the tip of which is the mythical river animal called makara which is a cross between a crocodile, an elephant, and a dolphin. It is symbolic of growth and abundance, particularly in association with water.

Physical description

Brightly coloured painting of Krishna and Radha in an embrace. Blue coloured man holds flute with long snouted beast on the tip. Radha hand rests on flute; she wears an elaborate brown and yellow sari with heavy ornaments. Both wear tall decorative, triangular headdresses. Edge of painting has outside floral border on a green ground with inside border of twisted snakes on black ground. Light red background sprinkled with white designs.