WEAVER'S WORLD / JAGANNATHPURI / TEXTILES -1
The Applique work of Pipili near Puri
Appliqué work in India is mainly practised in Odisha, especially for banners during the Lord Jagannatha Rath Yatra. But it also finds use in the designs on sarees.
Appliqué work refers to the technique by which patterns are created by attaching a smaller coloured patch onto a larger base fabric mostly of contrasting colour or texture, by stitching, or gluing the patch on the larger fabric. The edges of the patch may have the ends folded under or left as they are. The attaching is done by straight stitch, satin stich or reverse Appliqué.
Embroidery machines have taken over what earlier used to be done by hand. Its application is best suited for any work that has to be viewed from a distance such as banners. The motifs for the Appliqué may be white or coloured with the fabric body of contrasting colour and could have intricate embroidery and mirror work also to make it highly ornamental.
Motifs generally are elephant, parrot, peacock, duck, creepers, flowers such as lotus and jasmine. Half moon, Sun and Rahu (mythical Rakshasa) are also popular subjects. Colours used are limited to red, green, blue, brown and black.
The Patachitra sarees and fabrics of Raghurajpur near Jagannath Puri
‘Pata’ is cloth and ‘chitra’ means picture or painting in Sanskrit. Hence Pattachitra would come to mean painting on a cloth or canvas. Originally a traditional art dating from historical to ancient times, this Odisha craft of painting on any form of canvas has themes from Hindu mythology inspired especially by the Jagannatha and Vaishnava cult. Rich in colour, extraordinary designs and motifs, the Pattachitra painting on the saree involves the narration of mythological stories in a simple but lucid manner. Murals of religious venues centred around Puri Konark and Bhubaneshwar, themes from Gita Govinda by Jaydev, stories about Lord Jagannatha and the Radha Krishna saga, scenes from the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, are all popular subjects for Pattachitra. Indidvidual gods and goddesses, folk tales and classical elements also figure now and then as themes for these sarees.
The Patachitra painted sarees have certain marked features. Lines are bold, very clean, angular and quite sharp. There is an absence of landscapes, perspectives, or intended views. The backdrop would have flowers and other floral representations to distinguish the figures that are drawn or represented in the foreground. There are decorative borders and a theme designed in the form of a narrative becomes evident.
There was a time when women used to prepare the materials, provide the initial background colours on the canvas and also give the final coating touches on these paintings while the men or ‘chitrakars’ as they were called, painted the main themes on them. It was and still is a family tradition where all members of a family are involved. Today painting on these sarees follows more or less the same pattern but with tasks interspersed and more divided.