Etymology: Phad gets its name from the Sanskrit word ‘patt’ i.e. a flat painting surface. In Marwari, it means a fold.
Origin: Phad paintings is a native folk art practice of Rajasthan, with a 700-year-old heritage. It’s a transgenerational art form.
Location: Phad miniatures originate from the Shahpura district of Bhilwara, in Rajasthan.
Relevance: These were seen as portable shrines through which the wisdom of our epics was sung by a priest and his wife. This practice of travelling to villages and singing folklore stood true to their nomadic roots.
Significance: Phad scroll paintings were portable shrines which also encapsulated their tradition of storytelling through imagery, singing and a dance performance. The instrument ‘ravanhatta’ is a huge part of their cultural practice as well.
Culture and society: Till as recently as 50 years ago, the form of Phad was exclusively practised by the artists of the Joshi lineage of the Chippa caste.
Religious significance: These paintings were commissioned by the bhopas and are used in their performances to depict their local folklore and mythology.
Style: Phad paintings are unique because as per traditions, they are thirty feet long and five feet wide. The human figures are depicted to be fuller and plump and are clad in traditional costumes and adorned with headgear.
Central motifs: Scenes from medieval Rajasthan are the central theme. Illustrations of royalties, grey elephants, cattle, demons, etc. were common. These images would be placed around the central portrayal of the hugely painted figure of Pabuji or any other deity.