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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chitra Pothi Lives On

Illuminated letters or temple decorations? Palm leaf painting dates back to medieval India and survives among artisans in a few small villages of Orissa.


An artisan demonstrated palm leaf painting at a Kolkata fair, Dec. 2009

Photo: Sandy Ao

Back before there were computer screens to write on, there was this stuff called paper, made from plant material. It’s true.

And back before digital cameras and Photoshop, there was an image making process called painting. It, too, involved plant materials: bloodroot and indigo for pigments, cotton, papyrus, and linen for canvases—or in the case of Chitra Pothi of India, leaves of palm.

Sandy Ao, long an admirer of this vernacular art form, made an exciting discovery last month at Kolkata’s New Market after many years of looking.

“I simply love these palm leaf paintings, Chitra Pothi or Talapatrachitra,” she writes. “I was given a palm leaf painting by my Greek friend ~ Hara Papadoniou Gupta’s husband. That was way back in 1972.”

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Posted by Julie on 01/16 at 11:50 PM
Art & MediaReligious RitualsTravelPermalink