Patachitras, or paintings on cloth, belong to a very old tradition in the north-east of India and they depict a number of themes; this one is a depiction of the Jagannath temple and its triad of deities.
Within the Jagannath temple in Puri there are wooden carvings that represent the triad; the white-faced Balabhadra (left), the yellow-faced Subhadra (centre) and the black-faced Jagannath (right). This painting depicts the carvings when they are elaborately dressed in silk cloth and flowers, called bada-singhara vesha, which is done towards the end of the day. The silk cloth is covered with the text of the Gita Govinda poem that celebrates the love of Krishna and Radha.

This group of painted cloths is not particularly significant in terms of their provenance or art historical or artistic merits, although one piece appears to be of an earlier date than the three other pieces. Their interest lies in their immediate impact on the viewer and the storytelling opportunities they offer. The function of these pieces is to show the contemporary interpretation of the art schools, rather than to act as examples of the art schools themselves, but they are very nice for developing storytelling programmes.

Catalogue Entry
A section from a larger Jagannath Triad patachitra or painting on cloth. Depicted here, painted in black, is Krishna, in the form of Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe. He is accompanied by his brother Balarama (painted in white) and their little sister, Subhadra in the centre.

This the most interesting piece of this group of painted cloths and it is a very good example of the Orissan patachitra tradition and the unique representation of Krishna as Jagannath. This piece will have been acquired in one of the curio shops still seen in Puri district and is likely to have been taken from a large banner. The pigment colours, the preparation of the canvas and the delicate nature of the brushwork, all mark this piece as one showing a great of quality.
Large banners are created by the patachitras for use in the Jagannath festival, Rath Yatra (Chariot festival), when hundreds of thousands of devotees come to Puri to pull the massive wooden chariots used to carry the processional figures of Jagannath and his siblings around the town. The banners themselves act as embodiments of Jagannath and devotees come to receive darshan or a meeting with God, by making eye contact with or touching the banners and the figures.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Collection Area Region
cotton | sizing | tamarind gum | chalkstone powder | pigment
Common Name
Simple Name
Period Classification
Modern (1945-)
Production Town

Production County
Production Country
Production Person Initials

Production Person Surname

Production Year Low

Production Year High
pre 2006

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painting on cloth