Phad painting is a beautiful specimen of Indian cloth painting, which has its origin in Rajasthan. This painting can be simply described as a large painting on Khadi, which venerates the deeds of a hero. The smaller version of phada is known as phadakye. Phada painting has come to be regarded as one of the most sought after folk paintings in the world of art and culture, for their unique beauty and chronicling character.
Generally, the life events of the Rajasthani heros like Goga Chauhan, PrithavirajChauhan, Amar Singh Rathor, Tejaji, and many others were illustrated on the Phadas in the earlier times. However, nowadays, the stories from the life of Papuji, and Narayandevji are primarily depicted. Paintings transcend time to recreate the story of the brave Rajput warrior Pabuji. Adorning a 30 feet long scroll, these paintings show Pabuji`s victory and the life style of his time. The colors employed are generally vegetable dyes and are used in a fixed order starting from orange-yellow to brown, green, red and finally black.
Traditionally only vegetable colors were supposed to be used, as these colors remained fast and fresh for a long duration. However the scarcity of these colors was seen as an overwhelming threat to this art form, so the artists were compelled to make innovations. Innovation evolved in the form of waterproof earthen colors. The pounding the natural earthen colors with gum, water and indigo produce the desired colors. The specificity in the use of colors in Phad Paintings is remarkable. Only one color can be used at a time and specific colors are used for different things- orange for limbs and torso, yellow for ornaments, clothing and designs, gray for structure, blue for water and curtains, green for trees and vegetation and red, prominently for dress. All these are outlined with bold black strokes, which give definition to these forms.
The commencement of these paintings is an occasion of great celebration for the painter community; hence, before the commencement offerings are made to Goddess Saraswati. Then a rough draft of the sketch is then made on the khadi cloth and the figures are perfected. A distinct narrative is devised and empty spaces are covered with flora and fauna. All figures are colored yellow initially and this base is called kachcha. Then the youngest virgin girl of the artist`s family or a family of a higher caste is called upon to make the first stroke. This ritual is followed by celebrations and distribution of sweets.
The unique beauty of these paintings has fascinated art connoisseurs around the world. No wonder that today Phad Painting has come to be regarded as one of the most sought after folk paintings in the world of art and culture.