Among the various forms of expression, many consider the visual medium to be the most enthralling of all. Rajasthan in India, is the birthplace of innumerable art forms, the Pichwais and the Phad Paintings being a part of its rich heritage.
The Pichwai Paintings are traditionally the clothpaintings that are hung as a backdrop for deities in temples, especially behind Lord Krishna's Idol in the Nathwada Temple in Udaipur, Rajasthan. These paintings generally depict Lord Krishna as SrinathJi in different moods, and are changed according to the different seasons. The main centers for Pichwai paintings are Udaipur and Nathwada.
The Phad Paintings are an integral part of an
age-old ritual of Rajasthan and depict the folk legends and episodes from the life of the legendary heroes. The ritual involves the 'bhopas' of Rajasthan carrying with them these paintings in the form of scrolls on bamboo sticks, singing the tales of the legendary heroes, accompanied by the musical folk instruments. The most famous of these is the 'Pabuji ki Phad', which depicts the legend of Pabuji, a local hero, who is worshipped by many. The art of Phad paintings is handed down from generation to generation, mostly being carried on by the family of painters in Bhilwara, Rajasthan.
These paintings are known for the vibrant colours, bold lines and intricate work. The outlines of these paintings are first drawn, and then the colour is filled in, in blocks.
In the Phad paintings, one can make out the central image of the local hero looming over the others. The traditional Phad paintings that were made on the instructions of the 'bhopas' would have scenes in the paintings that would correspond to the different places in his life story.
Like many forms of craft, Pichwai paintings are also slowly changing their form, influenced by the fast pace of today's life. They are gradually traveling out from temples to adorn the walls of homes of those who still consider themselves to be the patron of art and craft. Smaller sizes are constantly being made to satisfy the demand.The narrative tradition associated with the Phad paintings is fast dying out, and hence, these Phad paintings are slowly becoming a collector's item. Smaller sizes are being manufactured which do not have the entire tale of the hero as the original scrolls. New themes, such as scenes from the life of Lord Krishna etc are being introduced.