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Pichwai

 23:23 Designs supports Pichwai Artisans from Nathdwara.

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A 400-year-old art form that originated in the holy town of Nathdwara near Udaipur, Rajasthan, Pichwais have delighted art connoisseurs for centuries. Intricately painted and visually stunning, they narrate tales from Lord Krishna’s life. Lord Krishna is often depicted as Shrinathji in Pichwais, which is the deity manifest as a seven-year-old child. Other common subjects found in pichwai paintings are Radha, gopis, cows and lotuses.

Festivals and celebrations such as Sharad Purnima, Raas Leela, Annakoot or Govardhan Puja, Janmashtami, Gopashtami, Nand Mahotsav, Diwali and Holi are frequently depicted in Pichwais.The style of painting was born when the Pushti Marg sect, founded by Shri Vallabhacharya in the 16th century, started creating pictorial illustrations on cloth and hung them behind the idol of Lord Krishna at the Temple of Shrinathji in Nathdwara, as part of their elaborate rituals of temple decoration. The name ‘Pichwai’ literally defines its meaning, with ‘pichh’ meaning back and ‘wai’ meaning textile hanging.

Although lesser known than some other Indian art forms, there has been a renewed interest in these exquisite paintings, which have found a way beyond the walls of the temple, into galleries and homes across the world.

Creating a pichwai can take several months, and requires immense skill. The intricacies of the art have been passed down through generations through the ‘guru-shishya’ (teacher-disciple) tradition. To this day, there is no formal school teaching the art form.

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