Pichwai Paintings

Pichwai paintings are a celebration of Krishna and his many moods.

Dr. Alka Pande

Art historian and curator

Shashi Bhatt
Shashi Bhatt

Pichwai art is a traditional form of painting that originated in the town of Nathdwara in Rajasthan, India. The word “Pichwai” comes from the Hindi language and is derived from the words “pich” (back) and “wai” (hanging). Together, they form the term “Pichwai,” which refers to a type of traditional Indian painting that is typically hung behind the main deity in a Hindu temple.

Pichhavai from the Temple of Nathdvara, Rajasthan. Krishana with gopis.
Lord Krishana Dancing with Gopis

Pichwai paintings are typically large-scale works of art that depict the life and legends of Lord Krishna, particularly his childhood and early adult life. Pichwai art is still practiced today by a small number of artists and artisans, particularly in the town of Nathdwara, Rajasthan. Many of these artists come from families with a long tradition of creating Pichwai paintings and have been trained in the art form from a young age.

The techniques used in Pichwai art are highly refined and require a great deal of skill and patience. The paintings are typically created on cloth or paper using natural dyes and pigments, and often feature intricate detailing and vibrant colors. Pichwai paintings are known for their use of gold and silver foil, which are used to highlight certain elements of the painting and add depth and texture.

Some of the common figures that may be depicted in Pichwai art include:

  • Lord Krishna: Lord Krishna is the central figure in Pichwai art and is often depicted in various poses and situations, such as playing the flute, dancing, or being engaged in battle.
  • Radha: Radha is Lord Krishna’s divine consort and is often depicted alongside him in Pichwai paintings. She is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman, dressed in colorful clothing and jewelry.
  • Gopis: The gopis are the cowherd girls who are the companions of Lord Krishna in his childhood and early adulthood. They are often depicted in groups, dancing and singing with Krishna.
  • Animals: Animals such as cows, peacocks, and elephants may also be depicted in Pichwai art, as they are often associated with Lord Krishna and the natural world.
  • Other deities: Pichwai paintings may also feature other deities and figures from Hindu mythology, such as Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.

 

The paintings were originally created as a way to decorate the walls of the temples in Nathdwara. But presently, Pichwai paintings are also appreciated as works of art and can be found in many art galleries and museums around the world. They are known for their beauty, cultural significance, and the skill and artistry required to create them.

In addition to traditional Pichwai artists, there are also contemporary artists who are incorporating elements of Pichwai art into their work. These artists may use Pichwai techniques and motifs in their paintings, but often apply them in new and innovative ways.

Pichwai art has also gained popularity among collectors and art enthusiasts around the world, and there are a number of galleries and online marketplaces where Pichwai paintings can be purchased. However, it is important to note that as a traditional art form, Pichwai art is often created by hand using natural materials, and may be relatively expensive compared to mass-produced artwork.

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