Worshipping Shrinathji
Kavita Singh
MATERIALS, METHODS & SYMBOLISM IN THE PICHHWAI PAINTING TRADITION OF RAJASTHAN by Desmond Peter Lazaro Mapin Publishing, 2006, 204 pp., price not stated
January 2006, volume 30, No 1

Pichwai painting is one of the best documented painting traditions in India. There have been several studies of pichhwai painting’s background, themes and iconography, such as Robert Skelton’s Rajasthani Temple Hangings of the Krishna Cult (1973), Talwar and Krishna’s Indian Pigment and Paintings on Cloth (1979) and Amit Ambalal’s Krishna as Shrinathji (1987). There has been, amazingly, a study of pichhwai painters by a psychoanalyst interested in the perceptions and meaning of creativity in a tradition-bound community (Ronaldo Maduro’s fascinating Artistic Creativity in a Brahmin Painter Community, 1976). There has been a wonderful, intensely detailed study of the chief artist families in Nathadwara, in Tryna Lyons’ The Artists of Nathadwara (2004). Further, the cult that pichhwai paintings serve, that of Krishna as Shrinathji, the Vallabha Sampradaya to which it belongs, and their philosophy of shuddhadwaita have all been studied by historians, religious historians and anthropologists, whose work then feeds into and off the studies of the remarkable paintings as well.

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