Bhubaneswar: Art imitates life and is an integral part of a community’s cultural heritage. Odisha is known for its Pattachitra painting with an entire village of Raghurajpur in the state earning its livelihood from this vibrant art form.
However, the practice of mural painting in Ganjam district of Odisha, has almost died out for the lack of patronage. Intricately designed murals have lime smeared across their facade. There are hardly any bona fide masters left who practice this art form today.
Where is it found
Biranchi Narayan temple of Buguda, Radhakanta temple of Chitikigada, Radhakrushna temple of Digapahandi, Bada Radhakanta mutt in front of Parlakhemundi palace in Gajapati district, Rasikaraja mutt, the court walls of Parlakhemundi palace, Gupteswara temple of Jougada, Jhadeswara temple and mutts in Dharakot, Belguntha, Kaaipadara, Chikiti, Sanakhemundi, Badakhemundi and Taratarini blocks of the district are known sites, where elaborate colourful murals can be found on ceilings, pillars and columns.
The murals painted on the walls of Biranchi Narayan temple have been created using dry process. Here, the wall is coated with a layer of lime plaster, on which another coating mixed with latex extracted from wood apple is applied and rubbed with pumice stone to prepare the area to be painted on. The murals of Biranchi Narayan temple are different from those of Ajanta caves, where a coating of termite soil, dry dung powder, husk, jute and water mixed with fenugreek, after which another layer of mineral pigments is applied to prepare the base.
Murals of Odisha always portray a central character of mythological epics like the Ramayana or Mahabharata in gigantic shapes and sizes, which are supported by other gods, goddesses, motifs of the flora and fauna of lesser magnitude on the periphery. One such example is that of Krushna Leela where Krishna is the central theme. Mural paintings do not adhere to the laws of perspective in their making.
Similarly, some mural paintings have a distinct Rajasthani touch in the designs which clearly points to the fact that artists from Rajathan and other parts of the country were invited by kings and zamindars to collaborate with local painters and create artistic marvels.
Households in Ganjam today have other versions of mural paintings on occasions such as the holy month of Kartika, Khudurukuni Osa, Manabasa, etc. where ushakothi-inspired paintings are done on the floors and walls of the houses, using organic colours without elaborate base preparation methods.