In a captivating blend of traditional craftsmanship and democratic symbolism, the upcoming Parliament building in New Delhi is set to showcase centuries-old Phad paintings from Rajasthan. These awe-inspiring scroll paintings vividly portray the narratives of the state’s revered folk deities, complementing the building’s wooden structure adorned with traditional motifs and elements.
A team of 15 skilled artists from Bhilwara, Rajasthan, created the artwork under the guidance of acclaimed artist Kalyan Joshi. The massive 75 x 9 feet Phad artwork was completed within an impressive span of three-and-a-half months. The paintings feature traditional figures such as Pabuji, a local hero, and Devnarayan, a reincarnation of Vishnu, along with historical icons like Maharana Pratap, Queen Padmini, and the warrior Gora Badal.
Artistry Rooted in Tradition
Phad paintings are traditionally executed on hand-woven coarse cotton cloth, which is soaked overnight to enhance thread thickness. The cloth is then stiffened using rice or wheat flour starch, stretched, sun-dried, and meticulously smoothed with a moonstone, imparting a radiant sheen. This artistic process remains entirely natural, employing organic fibers and paints derived from stones, flowers, plants, and herbs. The artists handcraft these paints, blending them with gum and water before skillfully applying them to the cloth canvas.
Phad paintings derive their name from the local dialect, as they are traditionally unfolded like a roll, resembling a “fold.” This unique characteristic adds to their visual allure and distinctiveness. The art form’s accessibility and inherent beauty allow even the layman to appreciate its magnificence, fostering awareness about indigenous gods and Rajasthan’s rich cultural heritage.
The Joshi Family Legacy
For over two centuries, the Joshi families of Bhilwara and Shahpura have been revered as the traditional custodians of Phad painting. These exquisite works of art serve as “mobile temples” for folk balladeers who traverse villages, sharing tales and legends through their vibrant narratives.
Renowned artist Kalyan Joshi, who previously collaborated with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, was commissioned to create this illustrious Phad painting for the new Parliament building. The 54-year-old artist, passionate about preserving this revered art form, also runs the Chitrashala School of Art, where hundreds of students, among over 4,000 enrolled, specialize in Phad painting.
A Parliamentary Celebration of Indian Art
While a recent viral Instagram reel showcased the monumental artwork on the floor, concerned netizens questioned whether it would be used as a carpet. Kalyan Joshi promptly clarified that the painting, due to its substantial size, was temporarily placed on the floor but would ultimately grace the walls of the G20 Headquarters in New Delhi, dispelling any doubts regarding its purpose.
Kalyan Joshi harbors aspirations to create a Phad artwork based on the epic Ramayana for the forthcoming Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. This endeavor aims to pay homage to the revered tale and further enhance the spiritual ambiance of the temple.
In summary, the remarkable Phad paintings that will adorn the new Parliament building in New Delhi serve as a testament to India’s cultural heritage and democratic values. These intricately crafted masterpieces, painted with natural pigment dyes, eloquently depict the narratives of Rajasthan’s revered folk deities. As the nation continues to celebrate its rich artistic legacy, this prestigious inclusion of Phad paintings showcases India’s commitment to preserving and honoring its vibrant cultural tapestry.