Jagannatha temple at Puri. Pigment on rag board; 55 cm x 51 cm. Orissa, c. early 20th century. 7/6104.
Pilgrim paintings as souvenirs are a common tradition in India where elaborate cults develop around a shrine or temple. The Jagannatha temple at Puri, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, is the centre of the cult of Jagannath, the “Lord of the World”. The majestic temple of Puri, depicted in this patachitra or painting on rag board, for the benefit of pilgrims, “was built in the 12th century A.D…probably in the last decade of the long reign of Anantavarman Codagangadeva… in order to gain religious merit and to create a lasting symbol of his own glory, he built the temple of Purushottama in Puri which was to be higher than any temple in Orissa known before.”
This painting conceptualises the awe-inspiring temple at Puri along with its main deities, “the Jagannath trinity which was developed in the Ganga period and consists of the juxtaposed gods Vishnu (Jagannath, Krishna) and Siva (Balabhadra, Samkarsana) together with a common Sakti (Subhadra, Katyayani)”.
1 Eschmann, et. al. (eds.), 1986, p.1.