'Phad' paintings are long scrolls carried by Bhopas, who are itinerant balladeers of the Nayak caste, Rajasthan. They narrate in song and dance the legend of Pabuji and Devnarayan, local heroes, on auspicious occasions (including times of misfortune), usually over two nights, to the accompaniment of the folk instruments, the 'ravanhatta' and 'dholak'. The painter considers himself to be the servant of the Lord and paints with devotion. They are mostly painted by the people of the Chhipa and Joshi castes.
The general imagery is inspired by the songs composed by the 'ashtachhapa' poets and the 'Rasalilas', or the 'Krishnalilas'. Folk processions and battles are other subjects. Dhola-Maru, a story of love, is also a favourite subject, as Bhopas played an important role in helping the lovers meet.
Painting commences on an auspicious day. The ritual offering of a coconut is made to the Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Learning). The cloth is divided into vertical panels read from left to right, as the scroll is unwound. At the top are the deities, beginning with Ganesh, remover of obstacles and Saraswati, goddess of learning on her peacock.
Susan Tuckwell, May 2005.
Robyn Maxwell, Textiles of Southeast Asia : tradition, trade and transformation, Canberra, 1990.
Rustam Jehangir Mehta, Masterpieces of Indian textiles: hand spun-hand woven-traditional, Mumbai, 1970. plate 51