PHAD ART

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This style of religious folk painting hails from the western Indian state of Rajasthan. These folk scroll paintings are rendered on a long piece of cloth known as a phad. The two main themes of these paintings connect with the narrative of the popular folk deities of Rajasthan - Pabuji and Devnarayan, who are worshipped as the incarnation of lord Vishnu & Laxman. The phad of Pabuji and Devnarayan, hero-gods of the region, are usually 15 feet and 30 feet in length respectively, depicting the epic narratives of their lifetimes. Painted with naturally sourced organic vegetable colours, the long phads are used in community religious activities. Interestingly the art form is accompanied by an age-old established cultural tradition where bhopas- priest singers, carry the painted scrolls and employ them as portable temples of the folk deities. These paintings form a kind of dramatic backdrop to epic storytelling performances that usually carry on through the night. Thus the paintings are not just artistic scrolls, but objects of religious veneration. An interesting feature of this otherwise flat pictorial narrative art is that the figures in the paintings do not face the audience; rather, they face each other. The Joshi family of Bhilwara district of Rajasthan is widely acknowledged as the traditional artist family following this folk painting style for the last two centuries.