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DIY Guide to Phad Painting

Phad paintings

A Phad painting is a popular Rajasthani folk painting style that features stories of the Gods Devnarayan and Pabuji. While the art form was entirely dedicated to these gods in the earlier days, today, modifications have been made to include stories from other mythologies, like the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

What if you lead a nomadic lifestyle and don’t know where you will put up next? How then do you go about finding a temple to offer prayers, an indispensable ritual of Hindu life? This was the predicament that the members of the Rabari tribe found themselves in, quite often. 

That’s when the Bhopas, or priests, decided to bring the Gods to this wandering group, in the form of travelling temples. They started travelling with Phad paintings to wherever the Rabaris camped and enacted the stories that were depicted in them. Just as woven wall tapestries depict a religious scene from Christian culture, a Phad painting brings to you a soulful tale from the Hindu Gods on a piece of cloth.

Tell Me More About Phad Painting

This peculiar art form is painted on a long cloth called Phad, using colours from natural resources. Each Phad tells a story, in the form of a series of paintings. 

The most distinguishing characteristic of Phad is that the figures are always only facing each other. No figure will ever face you. And the eyes bring each character to life. The size of each participant in the painting is different, depending on the role that person played in the story you are depicting. 

Materials Needed for Phad Painting DIY

  • Brushes
  • Phad – canvas
  • Natural/Artificial colours based on your preference

Understand The Phad Painting Method

  1. Pick a short story of your choice from your favourite mythology. It can be as simple as a conversation between characters. For starters, pick an incident involving just two people, a man and a woman. This will give you an idea of how to paint a figure from each of the two sexes.
  2. Draw the two figures with a very light hand, using a not-so-dark pencil.
  3. Draw the accessories and clothes for each of the two figures. Leave out the eyes. That will be done in the end.
  4. Use a light orange colour to paint the skin of the figures.
  5. Paint the clothes green. Leave out the detailed designs. Different colours will be used for those.
  6. Use a bright yellow colour for the jewellery, vessels, and instruments.
  7. Use royal blue for the details on the clothes, including the designs and embroidery.
  8. Paint the eyes. These are the most distinguishing features of the painting. Be very careful with them. Draw fine lines with the appropriate curve and heaviness to give the look of a typical Phad painting.
  9. Use red paint to add further details to the artwork
  10. Give a black outline to the entire picture using a thin brush or a micro tip pen. You can also use a thin black sketch pen.
  11. If you need to depict a bigger story, you can add more figures using the same colour scheme, in a sequence of scenes. Just make sure that all the figures face each other.

Your very first Phad painting is ready! 

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