Patachitra, closely linked with the worship of Lord Jagannath, stories from Ramayana and those of Radha and Krishna, is an art which is done on a silk cloth. As contrast to Warli which is mainly in one hue and done by married women, Patachitra is typically done in a variety of natural colors and done only by males. It depicts fables, folk tales, royal processions, animals and birds. It is characterized by floral patterns and intricate detailing.
Every year the idols of jagannath, balaram, and subhadra are given a ritual bath. During this time, when idols are not in place, they are substituted by three paintings prepared by the temple painters on specially designed clothes. They are called ‘patas’. The art which started as a ritual has now graduated as a school of learning and generations of chitrakars.
The subject matter of patachitra is mostly mythological, religious stories and folk lore. All the poses are confined to a few well defined forms, the lines are bold, and clean and angular and sharp. Generally there are no landscapes, perspectives, and distant views.
The cloth is first treated with a mixture of chalk and gum which gives it a leathery finish and then the artists paint with vegetable, earth and stone colors. At the end the pata is given a lacquer coating to protect it from weather, thus making it glossy. This process is known as glazing or varnishing.