Pichhwais represent a unique form of textile art which originated at Shrinathji temple in Nathdwara a little over three centuries ago. Nathdwara is some 48 km northeast of Udaipur in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan.The temple dedicated to Lord Krishna was named Nathdwara because Lord Krishna is also known as ‘Nath’ and ‘Nathdwara’ means ‘Gateway to God.’
Pichhwais are large devotional cloth hangings which form the background for Lord Krishna’s icon in Pushti Marg temples.
Pichhwai literally translates to ‘at the back.’ Traditionally, pichhwais were painted on woven cotton cloth. The cloth used to be coated with a mixture of gum Arabic and rice floor to create an even surface. Colour pigments obtained from vegetables and minerals were then applied on them with a brush.
Pichhwais usually depict 24 scenes from Lord Krishna’s life related to some festival or holy day. At the centre of these pichhwais is either a stylized image or a symbolic representation of Lord Krishna. Dark clouds, dancing peacock, Kadamba tree etc. symbolize Lord Krishna in these paintings. The pichhwais are changed from time to time depending upon the day, season and occasion to create different moods and ambience.Lord Krishna’s personality was so popular and powerful that everything associated with him has been immortalized in art, literature and culture of India. Butter, flute, peacock feather, cows, cowherds, milkmaids—literally everything associated with Lord Krishna has left an indelible mark on our culture.