Patachitra is a term used for a style of wall painting, manuscript painting, palm-leaf etching, and painting on cloth, both cotton and silk. The name comes from ‘patta’: dried palm leaf or pieces of cloth on which these paintings are made. Orissa’s villages are the centres of the famous Pattachitra paintings where creativity flows on any available surface, from cloth and paper to walls, terracotta and dried palm leaves. In the zigzag folds of crisp yellow-green leaves, delicately strung together with thread, are needle-sharp fine drawings carefully etched and cut out, telling stories from great mythological epics. Known as Talapatrachitras, (tala – palm, patra – leaf, chitra – illustration) these palm leaf paintings hold a world of tales and secrets, beautifully depicted by the artists of Odisha.

The painting on palm leaves is a unique process, as ink or pens are not directly used to apply colour. Instead, an iron stylus has to be used with extreme care, to etch the drawing on to the brittle surface, making sure that it doesn’t go wrong or the leaf doesn’t break. Once the drawing is inscribed, lamp black is rubbed all over the leaf and then it is cleaned, giving fine black colour to the carved lines, while rest of the surface stays clean.

The materials used in the paint are from vegetable, earth, and mineral sources. Black is made out of lampblack, yellow from haritali stone, and red from hingal stone. White is prepared from crushed, boiled, and filtered shells. The subject matter of the patachitras include religious, mythological, and folk themes. Krishna leela and Lord Jagannath are important motifs.

The great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are favourite subjects of illustration in many art forms, as they are with palm leaf paintings. Stories of gods and goddesses are also depicted with minute details of ornaments, hairstyles, animals, flowers, trees and elements of nature.

Inspired by the sculptures of the Konark sun temple and the flora and fauna of Odisha, Zola India brings you its Konark collection of hand painted earrings, necklaces and bangles on wood, seed and shell.

“When you wear Zola, you wear a piece of history, culture and the innumerable stories of the artisans who create our jewelry. You wear a piece of earth.”

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