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Tracing the Evolution and Contemporary Relevance of Mata ni Pachedi

Mata ni Pachedi

In the heart of Gujarat, lies an ancient art form known as Mata ni Pachedi. It represents a vibrant world, where every motif has a mythological tale of devotion and tradition. Practised by the Vaghri community in India, Mata ni Pachedi paintings are used as portable shrines during religious celebrations. Most of these paintings are done on a large cloth depicting deities and Goddesses such as Amba or Durga. 

In this blog, we shall explore the origin, evolution and contemporary relevance of Mata ni Pachedi. Join the journey into the depths of this age old yet relevant art form. 

Origin of Gujarat’s famous Mata Ni Pachedi

The Chitara Family. From left to right, Kiran Chitara, Chandrakant Chitara, Kirit Chitara
Image source: Rooftop 

Mata ni Pachedi was born to worship all incarnations of Mata ji. The Vaghari community and the Chitara family were instrumental in shaping the art form. The earliest cloth where Mata ni Pachedi was found, was heavily adorned with depictions of Goddesses, deities and mythological narratives. The piece of art was intricately hand painted by artists showing ceremonial settings. 

Mata ni Pachedi artists use natural dyes and pigments to produce the vibrant colours. Typically, we see red, yellow, green, black and white. Each colour has a relevant significance and meaning to its usage. They come together to form a holistic picture of everything Mata ni Pachedi depicts. 

Image source: Art of the Earth 

The Chitara Family has been influential in the Mata ni Pachedi scene and have contributed majorly to the modern liking of this art form. Chandrakant Bhulabhai Chitara is one of the most revered painters after his father in the Chitara family. He has been awarded the National Merit Award in 2000 and the National Award in 2001. He was further awarded the Shilp Guru Award in 2019. This master artisan has also brought global recognition to the art form. 

Kiran Chitara, like his brothers, learned the textile art of Mata ni Pachedi from his father. He and his other siblings helped their father fill the colours and go to the river to wash the paint off the clothes. Kirit Jayntibhai Chitara is one of the youngest members of the Chitara family practising the textile art. Today he continues to showcase this tradition and his unique skills to the world. He was awarded the State award in 2023. 

Image source: Rooftop

Red symbolises power, energy and auspiciousness. It is often used for the background or for depicting the clothing of the central character. Yellow, in a Mata ni Pachedi painting, represents knowledge, wisdom, happiness and prosperity. It is used for the highlighting of details or as a base colour for certain elements. 

Green stands for growth, fertility and nature. It depicts the foliage, natural elements and landscapes surrounding the central character. Black as a neutral colour signifies darkness, protection and the feeling of the unknown. It is used for outlining and for contrast within colours. White represents purity, peace and spirituality, which make up the theme of Mata ni Pachedi. 

Evolution of Mata Ni Pachedi

Image source: Tara Books

Over the centuries, Mata ni Pachedi has evolved and adapted to the changing socio economic scenario of Gujarat. Its religious significance remains paramount however, the art form in itself has progressed drastically. It has expanded beyond its traditional confines and now encompasses a larger variety of themes and stories. 

The techniques adopted by Mata ni Pachedi artists evolved too. They began experimenting with different materials and processes while still staying true to the essence of their craft. From traditional hand painting and block printing to the contemporary screen printing method, they have stayed true to the integrity of this beautiful art form. Variation in any traditional Indian art form is necessary for its survival in the modern, technology heavy world. 

Click here for a detailed process on how a Mata ni Pachedi painting is created. 

Contemporary Relevance of Mata Ni Pachedi

Image source: Rooftop

Traditional art forms such as Mata ni Pachedi face the challenge of retaining relevance in this age of modernization and digitalisation. That being said, it continues to flourish and captivate audiences with its evergreen appeal. The art form serves as a testament to Gujarat’s rich artistic heritage. With cultural homogenisation in the 21st Century, it stands out distinctively among the rest of the art forms. 

Mata ni Pachedi artists often use their paintings to address contemporary social issues. Important themes like environmental issues, gender equality and caste discrimination are highlighted. Artists are able to bridge the gap between the past and the present, advocating positive change through their art. 

Image source: Reading Cloth

Aside from being a form of artistic expression, it is a source of livelihood. By showcasing their craftsmanship, Mata ni Pachedi artists sustain their own and the family’s livelihood. The purchase and recognition of their style contributes to the socio economic wellbeing of their community. Additionally, it provides them with market access and empowers self sufficiency. 

While being deeply rooted in tradition, Mata ni Pachedi continues to evolve through experimentation and newer innovations. Contemporary artists explore better and easier techniques to infuse into this age old art form. It constantly adapts to the changing tastes and preferences of the audience.  

Click here to know more about convulsions of caste with Mata ni Pachedi. 

In conclusion… 

Mata ni Pachedi is the perfect example of the enduring resilience of traditional Indian art forms in the face of modernity. From its humble beginning as an art form to sustain a lifestyle, to its impact on social change, it has traced a remarkable journey. It becomes the responsibility of the people to appreciate, preserve and maintain this legacy for future generations. 

To learn more about art forms, download the Rooftop app from Google Play or App Store to stay updated on our upcoming art events and workshops. Stay tuned to rooftop blogs and follow us on @rooftop_app

By Freya Bulsara

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