Even before the beginning of formal education, art has existed for a very long time. The average eye only appreciates the aesthetic of a piece of art, whereas an art enthusiast understands the significance of art in history. Since the inception of art in the form of paintings and sketches, humans have been using art forms to appease the gods, compel people, frighten enemies and distinguish between various cultures. Paintings hold great significance in history and mythology because in ancient times there was no tool to record the golden history except for brilliant paintings. And that was the time when Pichwai paintings got into existence.
What are Pichwai paintings?
India is a land of diverse hues, and unparalleled spiritual significance and Pichwai paintings are a true epitome of this fact. The word Pichwai is derived from two words: ‘pich’ meaning back, and ‘wai’ meaning textile hanging. Visually stunning and intricate Pichwai paintings are made on fabric and they depict takes from Lord Krishna’s life.
Lord Krishna’s childhood is a motivation or numerous people all across the globe and many art forms are used to reveal stories from Lord Krishna's life, time to time. But, the Pichwai paintings are one of the major art forms because just catching a glimpse of the breathtaking Pichwai paintings one of the best ways for the devotees to experience the colours of Krishna. In Pichwais, Lord Krishna is often deciphered as Shrinathji, which is the deity manifest as a seven-year-old child. Besides Lord Krishna, other typical subjects in the Pichwai paintings include elements from Krishna Leela, such as Radha, gopis, cows and lotuses. Festivals like Nand Mahotsav, Ras Leela, Gopashtami, Janmashtami, Govardhan Puja, Diwali and Holi are also frequently painted with exuberant colours.
Origin and history of the art form:
Pichwai paintings originated in the holy town of Nathdwara near Udaipur in Rajasthan and historical evidence state that they are made by members of the Pushti Marg Sect that was founded by Shri Vallabhacharya in the 16th century. Originally, the Pichwai paintings were hung behind the idol of Shrinathji to create a pictorial representation of Krishna Leela, and they formed a major decorative part of the temple of Shinathji in different seasons. The art form is more than 400 years old and other than the artistic appeal, the purpose of the Pichwais was to narrate the tales of Lord Krishna to the illiterate.
Pichwai: the art of the experts!
As the Indian art forms are rusting by each passing day, now there’s no way to learn the authentic art of creating Pichwai paintings. Exhibiting the rich legacy of India, the paintings stand to be an exemplary notion of the Guru-Shishya tradition. This sacred form of art that is dedicated to the prime deity in Hindu ideology, has intricacies that have been passed down through the generations and families of skilled artisans. There are two types of Pichwai paintings, named as Kota Bundi and Nathdwara. Different seasons are depicted with bold use of a diversified range of colours. For example, the illustration of peacocks was used at the temple to divulge the rainy season, whereas pink was used to show summer
Creating a Pichwai painting requires immense skill and can take several months as even the minutest details need to be painted with precision. Because of the fine detailing and the use of natural colours made by using gold, coal, silver, indigo, saffron and zinc, it is impossible to touch-up the artwork. With the influence of commercialisation and contemporary strokes on art and culture, artists started using a blend of natural and acrylic colours to give an aesthetic touch to the paintings. But where’s the flair in that?
The bottom line
Indian tradition was way beyond its time. Vishnu’s dashavatars had a spectacular similarity to Darwin’s theory of evolution, and Gita has any secrets that even science fails to justify. Indian Mythology has answers to some of the most complicated questions in the universe. But what’s heart-breaking is just like several other traditions, Indian art forms like Pichwai that exhibit tales from our rich history so radiantly are dying. Although over time, Pichwais have found a place in the homes of art aficionados, the art requires recognition and revival.