PICHWAI ART OF INDIA

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Standing pose of Sri Krishna is the theme of all Pichwai paintings

Pichwai or ‘pichvai’ is one of the most spectacular and ancient forms of art with its origin being the land of culture ie India. Pichwai paintings have their roots in Nathdwara Rajasthan. The stunning art form is a 400-year-old art one which was created depicting the beautiful life of Lord Krishna.

The wall art is created by depicting the story of Shrinathji, another form of Lord Krishna holding the hill Govardhan. The story contains a beautiful history which represents the power of one of the most significant incarnations of Lord Vishnu. When Lord Indra, showcased his control over the inhabitants of Vrindavan, with steady rains and thunderstorms; Lord Krishna lifted the hill named Govardhan on his little finger and the people of Vrindavan took refuge under the mountain. With this Indira realized failure to disturb the people and his ego was broken. Since then people are worshipping Govardhan hill.  

 

The contemporary paintings are used to embellish the walls of the temples located in Nathdwara district, specialising as a backdrop for the temples of Shrinathji. The making of a traditional painting takes a considerable amount of time, ranging from a couple of weeks to months. Great artists first sketch this conventional art on hand spun starched cloth, and then the beautiful image is created, painted and printed in brilliant colours or woven with hand blocks. The classic styles are generally made with natural colours and even natural brushes. The base is mostly red woven with yellow or any bright coloured embroidery. The focus is mainly on using intense and bright colours such as red, yellow, green, black along with a border beautified with a goat, dabka work or Swarovski. The most beautiful ones are mainly filled with pure gold.

 

The most exciting part about this contemporary wall art is that they can be modified easily depending on the occasion. With a significant focus on large eyes, big nose and fat belly; the paintings symbolise different festivals of India. For example, the one consisting of pink lotuses signify summers. On the contrary winters are represented by jamawar patter. Raas Leela (dance form of Lord Krishna) is made on the festival of Holi and Annakut is made during the time of Govardhan puja.

 

This unique word Pichwai comes from the Sanskrit words, ‘pitch’ meaning back and ‘wais’ meaning hanging. It therefore means traditional paintings are hanging behind the idol of Shrinathji. 

 

The ‘not-so-famous’ art form is not only found in temples but also in homes and across the world. Some interesting facts about these paintings are:

  •     The dominant figure of Shrinathji is the most manifesting symbolization of seven-year-old Lord Krishna holding the huge Govardhan hill on his little finger for seven consecutive days in order to save the lives of the people of Vrindavan. This posture is typically depicted on almost every Pichwai painting with left hand raised and right hand on the waist.

  • A miniature form of art. The typical Radha Krishna paintings or the ones depicting ‘Raas Leela’ are made focusing on the little art. Every minute detail is full of intricacies and canonised with small studded diamonds. Once you scrutinise the figure, you will realise the countless effort of the artists in weaving different styles of embroidery.

  • A complete set of adornments. As the Holy city, Vrindavan is famous for the deity of Shrinathji with a diamond studded on His chin, and similar is the style of the painting with a beautiful, extravagant diamond studded not only on the button but also on ring fingers. More and more use of adornments focuses on the detailing the artists to add to the masterpiece.
  • Just the perfect creation are Pichwai paintings. There is no scope for any possible error in this kind of picture as the intricate designs are so minute that even the smallest mistake gets noticed easily. Hence artists create the paintings by sitting on the floor with a fixed posture and correct support to the hand.
  • True colours are the essence of this art form. The pathways are made with full natural colours and even the artificial ones are of supreme class. The showdown is made with pure gold and other precious metals that are rich in value.
  • The motive behind the making of these paintings is the joy and happiness that spread over Vrindavan during the time of Lord Krishna. The artists are the devotees of Shrinathji who were happy to make these paintings. The pictures show love and happiness as symbolised by dancing to the tunes of the flute.  
  • The best part about these paintings is they there are no rigid rules on hanging them on the wall. Besides adorning the backdrop of the walls of the temple, these paintings do not carry any religious beliefs. Over the years, artists have started making comparatively smaller versions of the pictures than the larger ones. And now these newly created versions can be bought by art lovers as home décor or for an art museum. This beautiful journey from temples to homes shows the love of people for Indian art, history and culture.

Pichwai was a forgotten art until it was noticed by the devotees of Vallabhacharya sect for whom it has great importance. These came into prominence when the Sect Vallabhacharya created 24 iconic poses of Lord Krishna against the backdrop of Nathdwara (about one hour drive from Udaipur). Every Pichwai painting relates to a specific celebration of a festival.

 

Note that Shri Vallabhacharya is the founder of ‘Pushtimarg’, belongs to the Vaishnav tradition and involves worship of Shri Krishna. ShriNath Ji is the principal deity in Pushtimarg. 

 

Every art form of India has emerged from its history, independent of any connection except the ones that are another form of reincarnation of great Indian Gods. They focus on their lives and work.

 

Pictures provided by author are courtesy and copyright 

Author is a content marketer. A writer by day and reader by night, he is loathed to discuss himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.

Also read

1 Pictures of Vrindavan during Janmashtami

2 Pictures of Govardhan Hill 

3 Lathmar Holi Barsana 

4 Artists of Nathdwara