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Arts of Odisha

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Indian state of Odisha has a rich cultural and artistic heritage. Due to the reign of many different rulers in the past, arts and crafts in Odisha underwent many changes giving an artistic diversity today in the forms of traditional handicrafts, painting and carving, dance and music.

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Dance and music

Odissi dance

Odissi dance is particularly prominent and in itself displays the fusion of many styles in history. Odissi is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as Odra-Magadhi. 1st century BCE bas-reliefs in the hills of Udaygiri (near god hanuman) testify to its antiquity. It was suppressed under the British Raj but has been reconstructed since India gained independence.

It is distinguished from other classical Indian dance forms by the importance it places upon the tribhangi (literally: three parts break), the independent movement of head, chest and pelvis, and upon the basic square stance known as chauka. There are a number of musical instruments used to accompany the Odissi dance, including the pakhawaj (also known as the madal), the bansuri (bamboo flute), the manjira (metal cymbals), the sitar and the tanpura.

The Odissi tradition existed in three schools; Mahari, Nartaki, and Gotipua. Maharis were Odishan devadasis or temple girls (their name deriving from Maha (great) and Nari or Mahri (chosen) particularly those at the temple of Jagganath at Puri. Early Maharis performed mainly nritta (pure dance) and abhinaya (interpretation of poetry) based on mantras & slokas, later Maharis, especially, performed dance sequences based on the lyrics of Jayadev's Gita Govinda. Bhitari gauni Maharis, were allowed in the inner temple while bahari gauni Maharis, though in the temples, were excluded from the sanctum sanctorum.

A dancer portrays Radha suffering over the infidelity of sri Krishna.
A dancer portrays Radha suffering over the infidelity of sri Krishna.

By the 6th century the Gotipua tradition was emerging. One of the reasons given for the emergence of Gotipuas is that Vaishnavas did not approve of dancing by women. Gotipuas were young boys dressed as girls and taught the dance by the Maharis. During this period, Vaishnava poets composed innumerable lyrics in Odia dedicated to Radha and Krishna. Gotipuas danced to these compositions. The Gotipuas stepped out of the precincts of the temples.

The Nartaki dance took place in the royal courts, where it was much cultivated before the British period. At that time the misuse of devadasis came under strong attack, so that Odissi dance withered in the temples and became unfashionable at court. Only the remnants of the gotipua school remained, and the reconstruction of the style required an archaeological and anthropological effort that has tended to foster a conservative purism.[1]


Stone carving, Konark Sun Temple
Stone carving, Konark Sun Temple

Aside from the Odissi dance there are many other forms of dance and folk performances in Odisha. These include Baunsa Rani, Chaiti Ghoda, Changu Nata, Chhau, Dalkhai, Danda Nata, Dasakathia, Dhanu Jatra, Ghanta Patua, Ghoomra, Jhoomar, Karma, Kathinacha, Kedu, Kela Keluni, Krishna Leela, Medha Nacha, Naga Dance, Paika Nrutya, Pala, Patua Jatra, Puppet Dance, Rama Leela, Ranappa and Samprada.[2]


The 16th century witnessed the compilation of literature within music. The four important treatises written during that time are Sangitamava Chandrika, Natya Manorama, Sangita Kalalata and Gita Prakasha. Orissi music is a combination of four distinctive kinds of music, namely, Chitrapada, Dhruvapada, Panchal and Chitrakala. When music uses artwork, it is known as Chitikala. A unique feature of Oriya music is the Padi, which consists of singing of words in a fast beat.

Orissi music is more than two thousand five hundred years old and comprises a number of categories. Of these, the five broad ones are Tribal Music, Folk music, Light Music, Light-Classical Music and Classical Music. Anyone who is trying to understand the culture of Odisha must take into account its music, which essentially forms a part of its legacy.

In the ancient times, there were saint-poets who wrote the lyrics of poems and songs that were sung to rouse the religious feelings of people. It was by the 11th century that the music of Odisha, in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari, underwent transformation and was converted into the classical style.


Major handicrafts in Odisha include applique work, brass and bell metal, silver filigree and stone carving. Other forms include Lacquer, Papier Mache, and tribal combs, handlooms and wood and traditional stone carving.[2]


Tala pateri
Tala pateri

The history of painting in Odisha dated back to ancient times with rock-shelter paintings, some of which are dated to the early historic period (300 BC – 100 AD). Apart from the rock painting sites, there are several drawings and etching resembling figures on rock surfaces at Digapahandi and Berhampur in Ganjam district and other places. Many of the cave paintings are tribal and rock shelter painting has continued through the centuries as an Oriya tradition.[3] They are often of a decorative nature mixed with rituals and may contain several motifs. Mural paintings in Odisha as elsewhere in India was an ancient tradition and evidence of mural pigment coatings have been found in the caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri dating back to the reign of Emperor Kharavela who ruled in the 1st century B.C.[3]

On the ceiling of Ravanachhaya at Sitabinji in Keonjhar district is a mural belonging to later Gupta period and shows resemblance to those of the Ajanta style.[3] From the period of 1600 to present murals were painted in the numerous templates of Odisha depicting sacred figures such as the painting of Buddha Vijaya in the Jagamohana of Lakshmi Temple and inside the Jagannath Temple at Puri, the Biranchinarayana Temple, in Buguda, Ganjam district and so on.[3]

Erotic sculpture in Mukteswar Temple
Erotic sculpture in Mukteswar Temple

Pata painting is considered an important form of Oriya painting which originated from the temple of Jagannath at Puri in the 12th century. This style developed under the patronage of the Ganga kings, and the kings of Bhoi dynasty. The purpose of the pata painting was to popularise the cult of Jagannath to the millions of pilgrims visiting Puri.[3] The pata paintings may, however, take a number of forms and may range from masks to even toys and models.

Structural art

The Jagannatha Temple in Puri, is also known for its applique artwork of Pipili, silver filigree ornamental works from Cuttack, the Pattachitras (palm leaf paintings), famous stone utensils of Nilgiri (Balasore) and various tribal influenced cultures. The Sun temple at Konark is famous for its architectural splendour while the "Sambalpuri textiles", especially the Sambalpuri Saree, equals it in its artistic grandeur. The different colors and varieties of sarees in Odisha make them very popular among the women of the state. The handloom sarees available in Odisha can be of four major types; these are Ikat, Bandha, Bomkai, and Pasapalli. Odisha sarees are also available in other colors like cream, maroon, brown and rust. The tie-and-dye technique used by the weavers of Odisha to create motifs on these sarees is unique to this region. This technique also gives the sarees of Odisha an identity of their own.

Sand Art

In Odisha, sand art unique type of art form is developed in Puri.


  1. ^ Alessandra Lopez y Royo, The reinvention of odissi classical dance as a temple ritual, published in The Archaeology of Ritual ed. Evangelos Kyriakidis, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA 2007
  2. ^ a b "Arts and crafts". Odisha Tourism. Archived from the original on July 9, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Orissa Painting". Travel Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 December 2019, at 14:26
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