The art and craft of Rajasthan is known around the world. One such art form is Pichhwai paintings which are mostly found in Nathdwara temple located on the banks of Banas River in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan. This major pilgrimage destination is the home to Shrinathji which represent Lord Krishna as a child lifting the Mount Govardhana like an umbrella to protect the inhabitants from the wrath of Indra, the lord of rains.
Entering the temple reveal a spectacular view of Shrinathji with the beautiful paintings in the background.
These paintings are known as Pichhwai Paintings. The word Pichhwai evolved from Sanskrit words "pichh" and "wais" which imply "back" and "hanging" respectively.
Pichhwai art are intricate paintings which show Lord Krishna in different moods, body postures, and attire. Traditional Pichhwai art used to be done on starched handspun clothes with natural colors using the brushes made of horse, goat or squirrel hairs. The traditional methods have been replaced by the use of faster and less expensive materials.
Pichhwai art is an ancient form of art which has been passed from generations to generations. However, as Picchwai is difficult and time consuming, the newer generations of the Pichhwai painters have taken embossed paintings for survival. A good Pichhwai painting takes upto 3-9 months to get finished.
Pichhwai painting are considered to be an offering to the deity and are used to adorn the walls of the temple behind the idol of Shrinathji. As photography is not allowed inside the temple, the Pichhwai painters also create smaller paintings representing the idol of Shrinathji in the same style for the devotees who want to capture an image of their lord. This also provides business to the painters.
Pichhwai painting are also made depending upon the occasion, season or festival. The paintings in summer have pink lotuses while the winter paintings depict a complex jamawar pattern representing the warmth required in the season. Themes such as Raas Leela, Holi, Annakut (Govardhan Puja) are also seen in their relevant occasions. The paintings for Sharad Purnima shows bright full moon in the night while the art representing Annakut presents the deity in a silver outfit, decorated with pearls and zardori work.Pichhwai paintings have become the main export from Nathdwara as they are in much demand among foreign visitors due to which customized Pichhwai paintings are also available.