The Story of a Young Artist

Craft, Handloom, Art, Craftspersons/ Artisanal

The Story of a Young Artist: Rabindra Behera, Patachitra Artist, Orissa

Jaitly, Jaya

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Rabindra Behera had just returned from a seven-month sojourn in Goa, not holidaying in the sun and sands, but creating what he calls the largest patachitra painting in the world. It is 148 feet long and 2 feet wide and adorns the Mallikarjun Temple in Goa. It took him and two junior artists six months to complete this commissioned work which is now the pride of his life. They earned Rs 4 lakhs for the piece. He came to tell me about it with a gift of sweetened crisp mathris blessed from the Jagannath Temple in Puri, and packed in a palm leaf basket. He took a piece for himself after reverentially removing his shoes and apologized that this was all he could offer as a gift from his home. The Puri Temple receives thousands of earthen lamps and pots everyday as offerings. The temple distributes thousands of palm leaf baskets containing sweets made sacred for devotees to take home. Hundreds of basket makers and potters earn their livelihoods this way and thank their Lord Jagannath for the two meals a day that comes their way.
Rabindra Behra began to learn the art of patachitra etching when he was eleven years old when his family found he was not so interested in school. He was taken with some elementary art equipment and left with Jagannath Mahapatra, the guru of many painters who have now settled in and around Raghurajpur in Puri District. Rabindra had shown an interest in craft and art when...
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