If you haven’t guessed already, we’re mesmerized by Rajasthan. How could one not be? The state has been able to preserve its rich cultural heritage in varied forms, be it traditional art and craft forms, architecture or cuisine. Out of the various art forms that have piqued our interest, Phad paintings occupy a special place. Read on to know why!
Phad painting or Phad Art is a style of religious-folk painting that resembles a scroll. This style of painting is traditionally done on a long piece of cloth or canvas, known as phad. The technique is around 700 years old!
The narratives of the folk deities of Rajasthan, mostly of Pabuji and Devnarayan are depicted on the phads. The phads of Pabuji are normally about 15 feet in length, while the phads of Devnarayan are normally about 30 feet long.
Unique features and characteristics
The characteristic feature of Phad paintings is that the outlines are drawn in black and filled with vibrant colors. Another unique feature of this art form is that the figures face each other and not the viewer.
The Bhopas (priest-singers), traditionally carry the painted phads along with them and use these as the mobile temples of the folk deities. Each episode is narrated on the basis of the paintings drawn on the Phad. The narration goes on throughout the night and is accompanied by music, hymns and dance.
Artists use plants, vegetables and stones to make natural colours, which help in preserving Phad paintings for long. Phad Painters usually prefer the hand–woven and hand–spun (Khadi or Reja) coarse cotton cloth, which is then processed to make it smooth.
The Joshi families of Bhilwara, Shahpura in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan are widely known as the traditional artists of this folk art-form for the last two centuries. Presently, Shree Lal Joshi, Nand Kishor Joshi, Prakash Joshi and Shanti Lal Joshi are the most noted artists of the phad painting, who are known for their innovations and creativity.
The advent of digital printing definitely impacts the art form and the artists who make a living from it. It’s our duty to do our best to preserve the knowledge about this art form and spread awareness in any way we can.
Cover photo courtesy: https://www.rajgovt.org/tag/phad-paintings/