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. In art and architecture, centuries of history survive in the shape of temples and even today they survive in replicas, which provide livelihood to the descendants of the ancient practitioners of these arts .
Through centuries Orissa has retained its cultural identity within the main stream of pal-Indian culture. 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 brassware, filigree ornaments or patta painting of gods, all these have made the daily life of Orissan 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. It is no exaggeration to sag that no aspect of the life of these people was untouched by its very exceptionally high degree artistic sensibility.
A land of rich and diverse artistic achievements, Orissas 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 civilised life. The cultural heritage of Orissa 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.
Orissa has a distinct tradition of painting, architecture, sculpture handier music and dance.
The Orissan School of painting has three streams, which in their totality projects. In its 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 Orissan Art.