Rajasthan, the land of valour is full of tales of heroism, bravery and courage. These stories are passed on from one generation to another by different means. Various folk paintings across India are a perfect example of our cultural diversity and skilled craftsmanship.
Phad paintings are the tradition of painting stories of local deities and hero. The most popular traditions remain that of Devnarayan and Pabuji ki Phad, both local hero-deities from Rajasthan. Painted on huge horizontal cloth scroll using natural colours, Phad traditionally served as a mobile shrine for singer-priests known as Bhopas. The tradition of Phad paintings dates back to a thousand years and continues to survive even today. Today the art form has seen a transition from the scroll to canvas and in other decorative items.
Phad paintings have a predominant use of red, yellow and orange colours, symbolising the tales of bravery that they convey. You can see wonderful depictions of battle fields, adventure stories, legendary romances and richness of princely states as subjects of Phad paintings.
Social hierarchy is depicted through the size of the characters. A unique feature of Phad is in its figures, which face each other and not the audience. Rarely will you find a figure facing straight. The bold outlines are another striking characteristic that adds drama to this beautiful painting tradition. It leaves one spellbound at how the folk artists accommodate multiple stories in a single composition. The two dimensional treatment given to the entire composition adds up to give a marvellous piece of folk creative expression.
Phad paintings are indeed a visual treat that fills the viewers with a sense of pride in our rich heritage and culture.