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The History of Palm Leaf Engraving and its Uses

Palm leaf engraving or pattachitra is one of the most ancient crafts of the world. It still strives in villages of Odisha, mainly in Raghurajpur situated in Puri district. Raghurajpur is said to be the abode of masters of this art. The origin of palm leaf etching can be dated back to 5 BC when it was used as a mode of communication. In those days, these leaves were engraved with manuscripts and messages. In course of time, the texts were decorated with different images of mythological scenes that were popular among people. And then they were treasured as decorative pieces to ornate homes.

Palm leaf engraving is an ancient as well as sacred art of Odisha. The horoscopes are still written on it. One can easily comprehend the amount of respect that this art form commands in Odisha from the fact that even till this day when printing press and other publishing forms are so advanced, important and sacred texts are continued to be hand printed on these leaves. Any auspicious message like greetings for the New Year or wedding invitation, palm leaves are used till date. And best part is that while most of the ancient art forms are disappearing from the face of the earth, pattachitra or palm leaf engraving has managed to find its admirers all over the world. Tourists from the whole world flock in and around the villages of Raghurajpur and Chitrakarashi to obtain a firsthand sample, which is undoubtedly a prized catch.

Famous palm leaf evgraving crafts online
Famous palm leaf evgraving crafts online

The main theme of painting or engraving on palm leaves is mythology. Gods, goddesses and different mythological sequences are aesthetically depicted on pattachitra with the help of stylus or a sharp pen. Ink used for this art form is either vegetable dye or a concoction made of charcoal obtained from burnt shell of coconut with oil and turmeric. The canvas of palm leaves are made by arranging rows of palm leaves of similar shape and size in a stack and then sewn together. This sewn piece of palm leaf canvas is then folded neatly to get a pile. Once images are drawn using stylus and vegetable ink, they are delicately dried. These paintings are stored in panels and when unfolded, then open like a fan.

But if you cannot visit Odisha, you can still get one piece of this ancient art form.  Palm leaf engraving online is available for people who are interested in this art but are unable to travel to Odisha. There are different online stores based in Odisha where you can login to browse through impeccable art pieces. All you need to do is choose a design that catches your eye and place an order. Since admirers come from all over the world, currency conversion facility is available as well. From wall hangings to saree, and framed leaves to bookmarks, you get everything with palm leaf engraving online. Most of the sites are operated by particular emporiums and renowned saree stores, thus you can rely them completely about their authenticity.

Price of the palm leaf engraving craftwork varies as per the size and intricacy of the work. If you visit these stores, you will get an idea of the price which ranges from Rs 450 to Rs 45000. Images of avatars of Goddess Durga, ten forms of Ganesha, Raas leela of Radha-Krishna, Jagannath Dev with Balbhadra and Subhadra, stories of Mahabharata and even Kaamsutra are quite popular. So, when you want to buy palm leaf engraving online, making a choice can be quite difficult. It is true that getting a firsthand sampling has altogether a different experience, but buying palm leaf engraving online makes it possible to get hold of at least one pattachitra art piece which you had otherwise rendered as impossible.