Folk art is a higher form of culture in comparison to primitive art.
The needs and peculiar problems of the village people's life find an expression
in folk art. While satisfying the needs of the people, folk art attains a
certain aesthetic level. Folk art is divided into two classes, Viz. hand-made
moulded figures. The hand-made type is of a primitive pattern. Heads, eyes, eye-brows,
lips etc of the figures are shown, but the legs are left out. In the moulded type a
full human or animal figure is fashioned.
Folk art although dwindling, is still a living reality in Orissa.
Great skill is displayed in the making of dolls, toys, puppets, carvings on
soapstone, wooden vessels, gate door ways, chests, palanquins, musical
instruments, bridal costumes etc. Temple walls and walls of certain private houses are still
painted. Drawing on canvas is still a practice in Orissa. Orissa's 'Patachitras'
are famous in India and outside. Bowers of the pith flowers with figures of
charming women are made on the occasion of 'Jhulana' (swinging festival of Radha
and Krishna) on the full moon day of Shravana. Brass fishes, horn toys, filigree
ornaments, a painted 'Farua' ( a temple-like wooden pot in which Vermilion is
kept), textile and soapstone work and 'ganjapa' (traditional play card) of
Orissa still draw wide attention. Palm leaf as a writing material is now out of use except on some
ceremonial occasion. Some palm leaf manuscripts are carefully preserved in the
museum at Bhubaneswar as specimens of traditional drawings and paintings.
Every woman in the village is more or less acquainted with
(painting on wall and floor with rice paste). The floor is painted with the feet
of the goddess Lakshmi and the mud walls are decorated with paddy plants,
finger-tips, birds, lotus creepers etc on Thursdays in the month of
Margashira. The south-facing doors are decorated with paddy plants,
ornaments, lotuses, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra and cotton clinging on
the turmeric paste and worshipped on the occasion of the Sun moving southwards
on the Samkranti day of the month of Shravana.
From specimens of art now available like the baked terracotta
horses with a goddess under some big tree, the figure of the Puranic Brundabati
bearing the basil (Tulsi) plant on the head, painted wooden cover of a palm leaf
manuscript, cash boxes, utensils and pottery, we come to know how vividly art was
integrated with ancient Orissan life.
Folk art is produced primarily for the artist's own use. It is
not commercialized. Women do thread embroidery, and make fans out of grass
roots. They make use of home-made articles. Folk art has its own individuality and character and it exists
by its intrinsic merit, i.e. flight of fancy of the artist, its symmetrical
form, rhythm of design and efficient workmanship. Materials used in folk art are local and not imported from