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ABOUT PHAD PAINTINGS

 

Phad Paintings are a folk painting style from Rajasthan, India. These paintings were and still are a part of an elaborate ritualistic song and dance performance by folk balladeers that travel from village to village performing folk epics. The paintings provide the backdrop against which the songs, dances and narrations are used to create an evening of magic and entertainment usually in the centre of the village.

 

Each painting depicts a different episode and they are opened or unrolled only after sundown, in conjunction with an all night performance. This is possibly why these paintings are called Phad which means folds in local dialect.

 

Phad paintings are made on cloth or walls and most popularly depict the story of the local hero-gods - Pabuji & Devnarayanji. A series of these paintings represent a folk epic narrative through a very specific style of representation filled with figures and pictorial incidents.

 

All Phad paintings have certain common features. Every available inch of the canvas is crowded with figures. Another similarity is flat construction of the pictorial space. While the figures are harmoniously distributed all over the area, the scale of figure depends on the social status of the character they represent and the roles they play in the story.

 

Another interesting feature is that the figures in the paintings always face each other instead of the viewer. These paintings in their traditional form are very wide to accommodate the numerous episodes of the complex stories.

 

Some Phad painters are also experimenting with the 'collage' form for Phad paintings where while remaining true to the basic principles of the art form they combine various aspects of the art form to create a visually appealing modern painting. Phad sketches made with a single stroke of the pen while following the Phad form are also gaining popularity.

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