Pichwai: The Dance of Krishna
Ornate, handpainted temple hangings that bring alive the legends of the deity
The word Pichwai has its roots in the Sanskrit pich (behind) and wai (hanging). A traditional art form that emerged in the 17th Century at the Nathdwara temple in Rajasthan, Pichwais are intricate paintings dedicated to Shrinathji and are typically hung behind the idol of the deity in local shrines. These elaborately handpainted artworks celebrate the different moods and expressions of Krishna, and mostly depict temple rituals like the adornment (shringaar) of Shrinathji according to the seasons or festivals in the Pushtimarg calendar: Janamashtami and Gopashtami, for example. A popular depiction of Krishna found in Pichwais is the Chappan Bhog (a feast of 56 delicacies) rendition as an offering to the deity. Elements of the Indian monsoon like the peacock, the lotus, and even his beloved cows are featured prominently and repeatedly.
Over time, Pichwai painting came to be practiced in various local styles. The most recognisable among these are the Nathdwara style known for its expressive portraitures, the Deccan or Hyderabadi defined by a liberal use of gold and silver leaf, the dynamic and fluid Kota-Bundi style, and the Kishangarh style inspired by Mughal miniatures.
As an endeavour to preserve and revive this sacred art form, we present contemporary renditions of traditional Pichwai paintings in collaboration with The House Of Things, curated exclusively on our web boutique for a limited time.
One God, Many Avatars
From dancing to eating, cow-herding to flute-playing, Pichwais depict the many moods of Lord Krishna
Shrinathji Morkutir Pichwai: An ode to the Monsoon, this colourful Pichwai features Shrinathji playing his bansuri (flute), surrounded by dancing peacocks and his beloved cows.
Shrinathji Duhera Manorath: Painted in the Mughal miniature style, this intricate Pichwai depicts the ritual dressing (shringaar) of Shrinathji before a Chappan Bhog ceremony.
Shri Gokulchandramaji Gopashtami: Symbolising Lord Krishna as the Gokulchandrama (the moon of Gokul), this Deccan-style Pichwai features the deity in a Tribhanga (three-body-bends) posture.
Gopiyo Ki Pichwai: Rendered on a dark background with gold leaf detailing, this exquisite Pichwai depicts four Gopis in adulation of Shrinathji.