Incredible India!!! It’s a right tag given to the country. India is a hub of various artisans and craftsmen having their unique skills and is masters in their traditional art form. In the heart of the country lies this village of crafts “Raghurajpur”.
Situated amidst groves of coconut, palm, mango and jack fruit, Raghurajpur is a village in Puri district, Orissa is known for its Pattachitra craft, beside many other practised. The main village has two streets with over 120 houses, most decorated with mural paintings, where the painters reside and practice their Pattachitra craft, and many others.
Raghurajpur once was facing hard times where these artisans were forced to get into agriculture to earn their daily bread. Due to lack of interest and demand of the handicraft industry the artisans were really finding it difficult and were not happy to accept the new profession. After a long research and documentation project for 2 years by INTACH, it was in the year 2000 when the village was chosen to be developed as state’s first heritage village and developed as a Crafts village. The organizers trained the villagers to relearn traditional techniques and implement them in their artworks. They learnt how to prepare plaster made of lime, sand, jute, molasses, lentils, curd, casein and local herbs such as trifala and bel.
Raghurajpur soon became a major tourist destination of the state, drawing both domestic and foreigners to the village. Villagers were also trained to provide heritage walks to the visitor by the organisers.
Artistic Stories on the Walls:
Raghurajpur known as the crafts village or heritage village of artisans has a unique touch of art that can be seen on its houses too. The walls of each house in the village are hand-painted with designs inspired from Pattachitra painting. The walls look really beautiful and showcase the art of these artisans. Such stunning work of art can only be found where the artisans reside “Raghurajpur”!!!
The Crafts of Raghurajpur:
Pattachitra Painting, Palm leaf painting, engraving, tusser / silk painting, stone carving, coconut painting, wood carving, paper mache mask, cow dung toys, ganjifa playing cards are some of the different types of crafts developed here. Pattachitra paintings being the most important you will find many patta artists practising the art. Raghurajpur is renowned for its master Pattachitra painters and Gotipua dance troupes. The indigenous artwork of Pattachitra paintings practised here derives its roots long back to the 12th Century A.D. The timing to carve one Pattachitra depends upon the level of intricacy and size of the paintings. However, it takes years of relentless practice, dedication and skill for an artisan to carve a flawless and magnificent piece. The hardship that involves in fabricating a piece of Pattachitra is immense. A single Pattachitra art work takes about 5-15 days and some might even take months to complete.
The House Showroom:
There are around hundred families Raghurajpur, where all houses are divided into two lanes. While entering to village you will find showrooms of different crafts but instead of stopping here better to avoid these commercial shops and enter into the village to see the village men and women preparing paintings and toys. The village is inhabited by artisans producing Pattachitra painting, cow dung toys, ganjifa cards, carvings, masks, and many more. Pattachitra being the main craft you will find a variety of this painting. In all houses of the village, front room is used as show room and they also work from here.