Cow with calf in a stylised lotus pond – Blue , PICHWAI PAINTING BY SHEHZAAD ALI SHERANI
Cows have always been an important part in Indian mythology. In the Pichwai painting tradition as well, cows play an important role as lord Krishna was a cowherd in the formative years of his life and pichwai in particular focuses on the events in shri krishna’s life as a seven year old. In the painting we see a calf being nurtured by its mother. There are characteristic henna marks on the body of both, the cow and the calf. They are surrounded by full bloomed lotuses.
One of the well known Pichwai artists from Kishangarh, Shehzad Ali Sherani is the recipient of many awards like the State Award, the Rajasthan Lalit Kala Academi Commendation certificate and more. He has been practicing Pichwai and Kishangarh art for many years and learnt under the expert guidance of Padmashri Kripal Singh Shekhawat.
Pichwai paintings originated 400 years ago in Nathdwara, near Udaipur. Although its origin is not known, it is believed that an idol of mountain holder was discovered near Udaipur around 1400 CE. Soon a temple was constructed at the site. During the 16th century, the local artists began decorating the temple, one of them being the Pichwai. Pichwai painting tradition refers to the Mewar school of Rajasthani painting. Pichwai is the Sanskrit word gets where pichh which means back and wai means hanging textile. The theme of the painting is always Shri Krishna, mostly in the form of shrinathji. Shrinathji is the manifestation of Krishna as a seven year old. Other common themes are radha-krishan, gopis, cows and lotuses. It also depicts festicals such as sharad Purnima, raas leela, Govardhan puja, janamashtami, holi, Diwali, etc. These paintings are generally made by the members of Pushti Marg sect. It was founded by Shri Valabhacharya in the 16th century.