Rural Murals of Odisha, India
Rural Murals of Odisha
Dandasahi craft village, residential wall paintings
People normally identify Odisha for its unique temple architecture which is very peculiar to this part of the earth and found nowhere else but something more intriguing and vibrant which has not been given due credit till date, is its murals having its very own distinctive character.
In India, people are aware about a few magnificent schools of painting like the Ajanta and Ellora artistic creations, Rajput artworks, mughal compositions.. etcetera.
Though people all around India and world are not that much familiar with Odisha murals but the uniqueness of Odisha murals is its continuity over generations even till date.
The Odishan murals have three distinct streams where each venture has its distinctive character . These are folk or rural painting, tribal painting and classical painting.
Whatever prehistoric rock arts have survived over the ages in different forest tracts of Odisha are very rich too even today.Odisha is a great repository of rock arts and has become the most sought-after laboratory for all (both inland and abroad) cutting edge rock art enthusiasts and researchers.There are 106 rock shelters distributed in 11 districts of Odisha documented till date. I have written a separate article focussing on rock arts of Odisha only. That’s why, deliberately I have kept aside the rock arts here.
There lies a steady cooperation and exchange of thoughts and themes between these three streams which thus enriches the whole collection of Odishan canvases . The verandahs of different rural hamlets with wonderfully painted walls are nothing less than picture galleries which catch the fascination of every passerby .
Out of these three surges of canvases, the tribal and the rural murals are very vivacious and delicate with differentiating shades of white and red ochre over mud walls.
There lies plenty of different classical paintings on different temples and matha walls scattered in different nooks and corners of Odisha. Some noteworthy of them are Jagannath temple, Emar Matha, Bada Odia Matha etc. of Puri ( early 20th century), Biranchinarayan temple of Buguda( 18th century), Jagannath temple of Dharakote( 20 th century), Ravanachhaya of Sitabinji ( Keonjhar, 8th century), Vasudeva temple of Jayantigada( Ganjam, 18th century), Chaitanya Matha of Chikiti Gada ( Ganjam, 19th century) .
But here I would like to concentrate on folk or rural murals alone.
pc: New Delhi Odia Samaj
Nilachakra ( the wheel on the top of Jagannath temple) inside a conch
pc: APK pure
A lady drawing Muruja in her courtyard
pc: Sambad English
Shri Jagannath Muruja in front of Tulsi Chaura( Maa Brundabati)
Raghurajpur heritage craft village murals
Raghurajpur heritage craft village murals
A wall with murals & masks for sell
Images of rural murals of Odisha( Jhoti)
Rural murals are nothing other than the overflowing of emotions of rural people on various events of perceptions of life events particularly like birth & death rituals, marriages, sacred thread ceremony of brahmin people , entry to a newly built home( Griha Pravesh) and several other domestic events…
Hindus are socially and strictly connected to several components of their surrounding nature like trees, fire, water, sun , mother earth, their families, their village deities etcetera. Different village deities are named differently. Every one of these deities is shown in the form of an image like a piece of rock spread with vermilion or a little stone sculpture or an earthen pot or simply a tree. They accept that the soul of the divinity is contained in such a type of workmanship or image. Each rural mural is exceptionally emblematic which is loaded with more profound implications of life. The age-old practice, rituals ….etcetera . is carried forward from one age to another and is raised with utmost sincerity by rural women particularly . Far away from the basics of craftsmanship and feel , country works of art endure even today in the entirety of its wonder.Throughout the year , the village women perform several rituals for the betterment and well-being of their families, known in the form of ‘Bara’ , ‘Brata’ , ‘ Osha’ ..etcetera.
For each event a particular theme is drawn on the floor or on the wall . For instance , during Lakshmi puja in the period of November , a store of paddy or rice is drawn like a pyramid with subsiding fingertip dabs on the wall taking the assistance of rice paste ( locally known as Pithau) . During Durga Puja in the long stretch of October, comparative spots are painted on the wall with superimposition of vermilion on white. The blend of red and white implies the love of Shiva and Shakti. There are various names for these fine arts made on the floor or wall . Those are Jhoti , Chita and Muruja. Jhoti and Chita are ordinarily made on floors or walls with the assistance of rice paste. However Muruja is made distinctly on the floor with a sort of white powder obtained from crushing of stones or rice( chaula) or limeshells. Murujas are produced using various ingredients like yellow powder from turmeric, black powder from burnt coconut shells, red ochre either from a particular red clay or bricks …etcetera. Flower Muruja is additionally finished by petals of marigold flowers( yellow), green from the dry leaves , white petals of sebati flowers ….etcetera. Muruja is for the most part used to draw mandalas and kothis in our traditions . Yet, it has a special use in the month Kartik ( which is considered as a sacred month when widows survive only on having a solitary meal once in a day, better known as Habisha ) when widows draw Muruja in front of their Tulasi Chaura ( basil plant). Hued Murujas are utilized for representing divinities. Rural women of Odisha are specialists in drawing Muruja which needs a great deal of training and practice as well. While drawing jhoti , Chita or Muruja, ordinarily no brush is utilized. These are always drawn with the assistance of fingers and hands. To draw a Jhoti or Chita, the four fingers are dunked in pithau and afterward continued on the ground with the assistance of the ring finger. To draw Muruja, the Muruja is held between the tips of thumb and the forefinger and afterward permitted to trickle methodically shaping diverse geometrical figures on the ground.
A sort of brush is additionally kept ready from the tree roots or twigs, attached with cloth at the tip and used to paint on walls . On occasion the pithau ( rice paste) is sprinkled on the walls just to feel and look as if there is an abundance of paddy. The rituals are usually performed by married women in assumption for child , fortune, wealth ….etcetera. and by unmarried young girls for attractive spouses . Various stories in writing and verse have been defined to celebrate these rituals . These accounts are perused or presented or recited during the performance of these rituals. The flower Murujas are often drawn to express gratitude towards the mother earth.
Putting Jhoti or Chita on the floor is often being interpreted as a charity by way of providing food to the ants and insects who blossom on the rice substance of the Pithau ( rice paste).This may be the possible reason behind why rice paste is predominantly used for the said purpose instead of having several other cheap substitutes of rice paste. The Chitas being put on the grounds likewise do have grain particles which are eaten by little birds and squirrels in subsequent times.
A section of people believe that Chita ( tattoo) made on the body of an individual acts as a defensive safeguard from the torment of Yama ( the Death God who takes away the soul of a person after his/her demise) and it gives the person concerned an easy passage to heaven. The rural countryside method of tattooing on human bodies was very painful but still then women were bearing the pain since it was a symbol of virtuousness.
Dr. Manoj Mishra