This beautiful art form has traditionally been practiced by members of the semi-nomadic Vaghri tribe in Gujarat to create a portable shrine that could be used to worship on a wall within homes, or as canopy outdoors for community gatherings during religious festivals. In earlier times, members of this tribe were not permitted to enter temple premises, and so they painted images of the Goddess to allow them to worship. They are also called Mata no Chandorvo (cloth paintings of the Mother). By installing these canopies and hangings, an ordinary mud covered platform would transform into a shrine and sacred space.
There was a prescribed diagram represented on the fabric: the Goddess in the central panel was surrounded by rows of worshippers from all classes of society, the priests, the sacrificial goat, and other ritual emblems such as musical instruments, flowers and animals. Often, these were printed on the fabric using wooden blocks in black and red on an off-white background.
In recent times, the function served by the Pachedi has changed to be more decorative for the urban art lover. And the artists have innovated by changing the composition, while retaining all the individual elements of it. The colour palette has also extended to include greens, blues, mustard, yellow and more, making the paintings bold and vibrant. Each painting is made on unprocessed cotton fabric and the dyes are prepared using a variety of roots and minerals. For example, the colour black is made by soaking iron filings and jaggery in water for a fortnight. The fabric is washed and/ or boiled after the addition of each colour to fix it, making the process laborious and long. They have abandoned wooden blocks in favour of sharpened bamboo reeds - these make each figure unique, allows minuteness of detail and also allows multiple colours to be used for filling in the details.
It's hard to find art that is more sustainable in its practice, be it the material, the dye or the instrument used to create the painting!
We hope these paintings not only draw your attention to their sheer beauty, but also to the skilled the artist, the deep attention to detail, the artistic preoccupation with the divine power the mother goddess and sustainable practice of the craft.