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Art and Culture of Odisha

Odisha boasts of a long and rich cultural heritage. Due to the reigns of many different rulers in the past, the culture, arts and crafts of the state underwent many changes giving an artistic diversity today in the forms of traditional handicrafts, painting and carving, dance and music. The artistic skill of the Odishan artists is unsurpassable in the world. The discovery that traditional artists still live and work throughout Odisha, producing various objects in many media, is an exciting part of any visit to the state.

Of all the regional cultures, Odisha played a very conspicuous and vital role in the cultural matrix of Indian civilization. Situated on the eastern coast of India, it imbibed the quintessence of cultural traditions of both Northern India and Southern India, yet it succeeded in developing a distinct identity of its own in the realms of creative arts. The Odisha culture has a three tiered structure with interfaces and interpolation, the tribal/ethnic, the folk/peasant and the urban/classical which existed side by side enriching and enlarging the cultural dimensions. The cultural heritage of Odisha is one of the oldest, embracing a period of about three thousand years.

An unbroken history of the unusual people of this land has continued from several centuries before Christ. It has left its imprint in the shape of numerous monuments and every passing day, new excavations bring to light more and more of such sites from almost all parts of the state. They reveal the existence of a flourishing civilization, striking by any standard. Few other cultures in all the senses of the term are as rich and as varied. In the sphere of religion and philosophy, Tribal and Aryan religions, Buddhism and Jainism, Islam and Christianity all have existed in history and they continue side by side even now as a testimony to the religious tolerance of the people of this land.

Through centuries Odisha has retained its cultural identity. Its social customs and mores are expressed in the long list of festivals connected with an agrarian calendar. Its gods are human and whether they reside in big temples like Jagannath or Lingaraj or small village shrines, they come out to visit their votaries on festival days. Its unusually large numbers of temples the religious attitude of the people who even today never tile of building tiny temples through spontaneous popular effort in every new locality.

Artisans are engaged in making articles of decoration required for festival days in temples and households, which has not only provided them their living but also opportunities for artistic expression. Whether the articles be tie-and-dye textile or applique work, terracotta, lacquer or brass ware, filigree ornaments or painting of gods, all these have made the daily life of Odisha people artistic and offered them avenues for trade and commerce in other parts of the country and even abroad. The once-nourishing state of maritime trade and commerce of this land bears testimony to this fact.

Varieties of entertainment in the shape of music, dance, drama and literature recorded in palm-leaf manuscripts and in stone carvings in temples reflect a high degree of excellence. Initially there was folk art in songs, music, dance and drama but these were later refined into classical music, dance, drama and literature and these too have survived tile onslaughts of time and have been resuscitated and promoted since our Independence.

A land of rich and diverse artistic achievements, Odisha's art and culture the products of a long historical process in Which the spiritual, philosophical the humane dimensions have merged to yield the finest effects of cultured civilized life. The cultural heritage of Odisha is reflected in as vibrant art forms. Culture imparts flavour and animation to the social and religious activities of people. It flows as an under-current of inspiration below the surface of daily and acts as a powerful link in the chain of human fellowship and universal concord.

Odisha has a distinct tradition of painting, architecture, sculpture handier music and dance. The Odisha School of painting has three streams, which in their totality projects. In it's distinguishing aspects. These are the tribal, the folk and the classical. There is a constant interchange of ideas and motifs among the three streams, and these interchanges have helped to enrich the repertoire of Odisha Art.


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