Mata ni Pachedi is a religious art that originated around 400 years back in Gujarat. Started by the Vaghari or Devipujak community, Mata ni Pachedi is the paintings of Goddesses and their stories on cloth. The community started painting these when they were denied entry into temples. Mata ni Pachedi thus is a textile art that is an expression and a form of worship. Today, this art form is created in families where it has been passed on from generation to generation. One such family that lives by the legacy of this particular artistic endeavour is the Chitara family.
The Legacy of Bhulabhai Chitara
The Chitara family home in Vasna, Ahmedabad, is also their place of magic, their workshop. A flight of stairs leads to a 12*25ft room with a long table in the centre, where the family gathers to create and carry on the legacy of their patriarch Bhulabhai Chitara.
Bhulabhai Chunilala Chitara settled in Ahmedabad and taught the art of Mata ni Pachedi to his four sons – Chandrakant, Kiran, Vikram, and Vinod Chitara. Bhulabhai was awarded the State Award in 1961, the National Award in 1971, the Shilp Guru Award in 2003. He was the first artist to win a National Award for Mata ni Pachedi and to bring the art form to the forefront of national attention.
His four sons have carried on this art form’s traditions, style, and techniques and continue to pass them down to the younger generation.
The Legacy of Mata ni Pachedi Continues
Mata ni Pachedi is created by the family together, and unsurprisingly, their efforts have been recognized through awards and workshops nationwide. The painting is a way of reverence, prayer, and devotion and can take days if not months to complete. Its designs and the process of creation are intricate. Yet, the younger generation is taking on the art form just as a fish takes to water. The learning of this beautiful art starts around the age of 7. However, it takes years of practice and learning until they become masters of it.
The most prominent members of the Chitara family that are making a mark in the artistic world with their creative and traditional skills are Chandrakant Chitara, his brother Kiran Chitara and their young nephew Kirit Chitara. Besides, Niral Chitara is the first woman artisan from the family who is carving out her place in this male-dominated 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. Besides, this master artisan has also brought global recognition to the art form.
Chandrakant Chitara learned this textile art from his father. Bhulabhai Chitara suffered from a paralytic stroke, and hence Chandrakant, along with his brothers, helped him in filling the designs with colours until they could do the entire drawing and process on their own.
Through his many workshops, Chandrakant Chitara has also been instrumental in teaching and spreading awareness of this art to nationals and foreign tourists. He has also collaborated with other artists, such as Sarah Naqvi, to create Mata ni Pachedi designs and artworks. His works include fabric paintings of Goddess Durga, Bahuchara Mata, the several different Tree of Life Mata ni Pachedi paintings.
Kiran Chitara, also the son of Bhulabhai Chitara, is another family member who has propagated the art form. He, along with Chandrakant Chitara, is an eighth-generation artist who continues to create this religious art. Kiran Chitara, like his other 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 for clothes. He was born in 1976 and started painting by the age of 7.
Kiran made his first Mata ni Pachedi using natural colours at the age of 10. Since 1990, he has conducted more than 270 workshops, including workshops in schools and international universities. Some of the students that he has taught hail from the University of Washington, the Tokyo National Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and more. He has also held various exhibitions across India. Kiran Chitara was awarded the National Award in 2005.
Kirit Jayntibhai Chitara is one of the youngest members of the Chitara family practising the textile art of Mata ni Pachedi. Both his grandfather and father were ‘chitaras’. Today, Kirit continues this tradition, bringing his unique skills and understanding of the art form. Besides creating his paintings, he has worked as a teacher in different schools and colleges in Ahmedabad. He also teaches students the Mata ni Pachedi designs and art through his many workshops. He has been awarded the Child Artist Award in Tutorial High School in 2008.
Mata ni Pachedi Traditions & Evolution
Creating this art is no small task. The process is detailed and the Chitara family, like the other few select ‘chitaras’ or artisans of this fabric painting, follow tradition in process and technique. However, there are also a few evolutions of this textile art that the family has adapted to effectively.
Also known as Kalamkari of Gujarat, creating Mata ni Pachedi begins with soaking the cotton fabric in water and then in myrobalan solution for a few minutes before completely sun-drying it. The outline of the Goddess and designs are drawn with the help of a bamboo stick and black dye. The colours are then filled within the painting. Though red and black are traditional colours used in Mata ni Pachedi, artists including those of the Chitara family have begun using other colours too. This includes blue, green, yellow, maroon, orange, pink and more. But, the Chitara family ensures that they use natural colours as much as possible.
Once the colours are filled and dried the painting is washed in running water. The painted cloth is then boiled in water at a high temperature to help it withstand the test of time.
Mata ni Pachedi designs are traditionally centred on Goddesses and the stories around them. However, the Chitara family, along with creating the religious art, also takes on commissioned work for decorative wall hangings and more. They also offer block-print cloth products, such as bedsheets, sarees, scarves, file covers, and more. Finally, the family is keen to spread knowledge of this art form through participating in workshops and exhibitions.
Introducing Mata ni Pachedi To The World With Rooftop’s Maestro Course
Rooftop has collaborated with Chandrakant Chitara, Kiran Chitara and Kirit Chitara for a maestro course on Mata ni Pachedi. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from artists for whom this textile art runs in their blood. Make the best of this opportunity and learn the intricacies, the usage and cultural integration of Mata ni Pachedi fabric painting.
Register now on the Rooftop app for this exclusive course with three amazing artists – Chandrakant Chitara, Kiran Chitara and Kirit Chitara. You can also take workshops to learn new motifs of Mata ni Pachedi on Rooftop app. We offer a range of courses on traditional arts taught by leading artists. To know more about our workshops and courses, visit rooftopapp.com.