An Indian pigmented fabric pichvaï painting
Rajasthan, Nathdvara, early 20th century
H. 249 x W. 103 cm
Painted on fabric, pichvaï – ‘that which is hung’ in Sanskrit – are unique paintings as rich in colour as Rajasthan. They are used as backdrops in temples by members of the Hindu sect Pushti Marg. Pichvaï portray episodes from the life of Krishna as an incarnation of the god Vishnu, or scenes of adoration for Krishna. The Hindu religious movement Pushti Marg was founded by Vallabhacharya (1478-1532), who introduced an adoration of Krishna or Shrinathji, the eighth and most complete incarnation of Vishnu. Krishna, always depicted with blue skin, was born in Mathura from one black hair of Vishnu. He is the son of prince Vasudeva and Devaki, while Balarama, his brother, was born from one white hair of Vishnu. Considered to be the eighth avatar of Vishnu, he is mainly depicted in one of four forms: as a child, shepherd, flute player or seducer; a famous scene is Krishna stealing the clothes of the gopis while they bathe.
At the top the dark-coloured Krishna is shown as Srinathji, the boy Krishna, worshipped by Nathdvara priest. Srinathji is shown with the left hand raised, long chains of flowers, and dark skin. Under this, the traditional blue Krishna is depicted together with his gopis or cowgirls. At the bottom flows the Jumna River covered with lotus flowers.