The word Pichwai has its roots in Sanskrit: pich or ‘behind’, vai or ‘textile hanging.’ A traditional art form practiced in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, the Pichwai is an intricate painting that depicts theatrical scenes from Lord Krishna’s life, typically hung behind the sanctum of his own manifestation, Shrinathji. These elaborate textile hangings celebrate joyous adoration for Lord Krishna, and were originally designed to create a devotional atmosphere for the daily ‘shringaar’ — the special adornment of the deity.
With its roots in the miniature painting tradition, the pichwai painting style emerged in the 17th century, exemplified by artists in Nathdwara (located north of Udaipur). Pichwai refers to the temple hanging that depicts mythological stories of Nathdwara’s resident deity, Shrinathji, a manifestation of Krishna.
The painting is traditionally made on a specially starched cloth, with colours derived from stones and minerals, and also gold, which gives a pichwai its rich look. Not only is the textile held sacred, but the process of creating it is a form of devotion for the Nathdwara chitrakars. The popularity of the elegant style is defined by its unique colour palette and fine details