Pichhvai for the Festival of Sharat Purnima (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

ca. 1850-1875
opaque watercolor on cotton
Nathadwara, Rajasthan, India
Overall: 86 × 79 in. (218.44 × 200.66 cm)
This painted cotton hanging is a pichhavai—literally a “backdrop”—made for a shrine to Shri Nathji, a form of the Hindu god Krishna. His main temple in the town of Nathadwara is decorated with sumptuous furnishings, chief among which are large pichhavais, which literally set the scene for important rituals. This example would have been used during Sharat Purnima, the festival of the first autumn full moon. Guided by moonlight, the cow maidens (gopis) of Vrindavan gather around the distinctive blue-black icon of Shri Nathji and dance. Myriad pictorial elements surround the group, including twenty-five small panels showing events from the lives if Krishna and of Vallabha, the founder of the Shri Nathji sect.
Gift of Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 104, pp. 288-289)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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