Artists from across the globe will get an opportunity to learn the various forms of art and craft from master craftsmen of different parts of the State during the Raghurajpur International Art & Crafts Exchange 2012. It is to be held from October 13 to November 19 at the Heritage Village of Raghurajpur, Puri. The five week event will see participation of 35 artists from countries like Australia, Italy,the US, the UK,Ireland, Canada and South Africa this year. The event would see performances of Gotipua dance, Odissi Dance, Naga, Durga, Ghoda Nacha and fire dance. In exchange the international artists will share their ideas about contemporary art with the villagers who can incorporate these ideas into their traditional art forms. The Raghurapur village is home to 120 households having 311 artisans, engaged in various forms of visual and performing art forms.
Raghurajpur, a small village in Puri district, occupies a unique place in the cultural map of India. The village is inhabited by artisans producing sheer poetry on pieces of treated cloth, dried palm leaf or paper. Situated on the southern bank of river Bhargavi and surrounded by coconut, palm, mango, jackfruit groves and other tropical trees, Raghurajpur has an idyllic setting. A number of betel vines dot the nearby paddy fields. The village runs from east to west with houses arranged in two neat rows, facing each other. At the centre, runs a line of small temples and the lone Bhagabat Tungi, the community meeting place of the villagers. The temples are dedicated to the Lords, Radha Mohan, Gopinath, Raghunath, Laxminarayan, Gouranga, and to the village goddess, Bhuasuni.
To reach Raghurajpur one has to get down at Chandanpur bus stop, which is about 10 km from Puri and 50 km from Bhubaneswar on N.H.No.203 connecting Puri and Bhubaneswar, two important tourist destinations of the country. From Chandanpur one has to take a cycle-rickshaw or walk on a 1.3 km scenic road to reach this village.
This coconut-palm shaded village is quite different from other villages of the State.It has its own identity. What is unusual is the number of outsiders including foreigners visiting the village round the year. These people don’t come here to see a typical Orissan village from close quarters but to see and enjoy the rich traditions of Orissan arts and crafts at one place. The village has a community of artisans, who produce different varieties of handicrafts items such as patta paintings, palm leaf engravings, stone carvings, papier mache toys and masks, wood carvings, wooden toys, cowdung toys and tusser paintings. Perhaps nowhere else in India one finds such a congregation of so many arts at one place.This is also the only village in India, where each family is engaged in one craft or another. There are has 103 households having 311 artisans in the village. Some of them are winners of National Awards.
One comes across the best tradition of Orissan paintings and some of the finest pieces of work in this village. The tradition of pata painting in Orissa is very old. There are several centres of this art : Puri, Parlakhemundi, Champamal (Sonepur), Athgarh and Dinabandhupur (Dhenkanal). Usually, the lane in which these painters or chitrakaras live is called Chitrakar Sahi. Although there are several centres of pata paintings in Orissa, it is Raghurajpur, which is famous for this unique art. Chitrakaras are involved with the ritual performed in the temple of Lord Jagannathaon the occasion of Snana Purnima in the lunar month of Jyestha (May-June). During the period of anasara, the fortnight following the fullmoon day, three patis painted by chitrakaras are placed on the sighasana inside the main temple. The chitrakaras are also called to execute colourful paintings on the three chariots for the Car Festival. Apart from taking part in the rituals, they also produce paintings which they sell at Bedha Mahal inside the temple premises and Chakada Mahal outside the main gate.
Ileana Citaristi, an Italian lady who has done extensive research on Orissan art and culture, observes, “By the late fifties only a few old men among the 90- odd chitrakara families of Raghurajpur were still painting, whereas all the youths had deserted the profession; it was only around the year 1953 that, with the intervention of an American lady, Mrs Halina Zealey, a new future opened up and the artists once again took out their brushes and colours.” Besides producing these unique works of art, this village has a living tradition of performing art known as Gotipua, the earlier form of Odissi. A worthy son of Orissa, Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra, an exponent of Odissi dance, was born in this village and had his early trainings in Gotipua tradition here.
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