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3 Best Books on Pichwai Painting

Sharad Purnima Pichwai - MAP Bengaluru

Art enthusiasts, assemble! If you are someone who loves pichwai art and painting, you must have read a book or two about art. 

To practice an art form, and to learn the history behind it, books play a very important role. After all, it’s essential to notice how a particular painting is made, what tools are used, what is the process, and so on. 

In this blog, we will be discussing the beautiful Pichwai art and three best books you can easily access to learn more about this art form.

What is a Pichwai Painting?

It is a traditional Indian art that portrays Lord Krishna in different forms. The Pichwai art is usually painted on cloth and is hung behind the idol of Shrinathji to depict his leelas. Shrinathji is a local form of Krishna and is the centre of Pushtimarg worship. 

As you would have gauged, the purpose of the Pichwai is narrating the tales of Lord Krishna to the people who can’t study. So, temples usually have different paintings which are changed according to the calendar of festivals being celebrated. 

While these paintings are beautiful, the history behind them is even more exciting! So let’s read about it further. 

Morakuti Pichwai - MAP Bengaluru
Image Source: MAP Bengaluru

The history behind Pichwai paintings

Having Sanskrit roots, the word Pichwai is derived from pich (behind) and wai (hanging). It emerged in the seventeenth century at the Nathdwara temple in Rajasthan to be hung behind the idol of Shrinathji. Traditionally, the Pichwai art was painted only on commission by the chief priest for religious worship, but over the years, it gained much more traction among other people. 

These paintings are adorned in temples during festival seasons, such as Janmashtami and Gopashtami. However, one of the most fascinating things about Pichwai painting is its relation to the Lotus flower. Lotus Pichwai paintings are one of the most famous styles because the lotus flower was loved by Lord Krishna. 

Pichwai paintings are usually made in Rajasthan and Gujarat, with a few from the Deccan. Other than that, you should also know that two episodes are widely depicted in Pichwai paintings, i.e., the Annakuta (lifting of Mount Govardhana) and Ras Lila (the occasion of Sharad Purnima).

Oh, we know you are desperate for books. Especially now that you know the background behind these paintings and how awesome they are. So without further ado, let’s look at some of the Pichwai art books, you NEED to add to your TBR list.

The 3 Must-Read Books on Pichwai Paintings

Following are the three best books on Pichwai paintings that will take you through the exploration of this magnificent art. Are you ready for it?

1. Shrinath Ji: Pichwais: the Manifestation of Pushtimarg- Anu Jhulka

As you now know, Shrinathji is the central theme of Pichwai paintings. This book by Anu Jhulka provides information about Pichwai art and Shrinathji paintings. According to the reviewers on Amazon, the book’s ‘themes and colours’ section is quite insightful with very pretty paintings. So if you are looking for aesthetic pleasure for your eyes as well as insightful information, we recommend you pick up this book.

Jal Vihar Pichwai
Image Source: MAP Bengaluru

2. Nathdwara Pichwais – Anu Jhulka

Anu Jhulka got the opportunity to conduct research on Pichwai paintings with a prestigious college in Punjab. Using her research experience, she wrote this book to shed more light on Pichwai art and the artists of these paintings. The book discusses the history of this art form in the Vallabhacharya Sect temples of Lord Krishna’s followers. It also discusses the paintings, textiles, and how Lord Krishna’s leelas are portrayed. 

3. The Materials, Methods & Symbolism in Pichhvai Painting Tradition of Rajasthan- Desmond Peter Lazaro

While the previous two books talk about the history and general images of the Pichwai painting, this is the book you should refer to, most definitely, if you want to learn the process of the craft. The book discusses the significance of various colours, positions adopted to prepare them, different alchemical changes, certain myths associated with the process, and the link between Hindu philosophy and Tantric practice. Overall, the reviewers are very happy with the book and highly recommend it for a further read. 

Conclusion

There’s no way your artsy hands are not itching from the anticipation of learning this art. Pichwai paintings are the right mix of traditional Indian art, devotional art, and aesthetics for anyone out there looking to learn a new school of painting. So if you are intrigued, quench your curiosity and read more about this Indian art form and get paint on your hands while learning it! Join us on Rooftop app for Pichwai painting workshops. Even if you want to learn it from basic to advanced level, enrol for our Pichwai course by award-winning artist Rajaram Sharma.

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