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 aid and souvenir

Iconographic meaning

Represents terrifying aspects of Hindu mother goddess, Kali. Worshipped in all India, she is most popular in the north east, particularly Bengal. Characteristic is the black extended tongue, bowl in upper right hand for catching blood, severed human head and blood stained knife. She is standing on 'Bonti', a north east Indian domestic knife which is balanced on her husband, the god Shiva, who in this depiction, has prostrated himself beneath her to save the world from her dance of destruction.

Physical description

Small, rectangular shaped painting of a black lavishly ornamented figure or Jagannath with six arms; seated on a blue platform curving vertically at one end and itself resting on the back of yellow prostrate figure, wearing only jewelry and coiled waistband. Main figure holds knife, human head; licking fingers of one hand with long extended tongue. Orange ground with white and black detailing. Above Jagannath’s head is a yellow curved line followed by two triangular areas of blue. Image bordered by a green band with yellow detailing followed by a yellow band with black, blue and red floral design; dark orange around the edge.