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India: Rajasthan, Udaipur, Nathadwara
Vallabhacharya sect; Hindu
Hanging for temple (pichhavai)
1875 - 1899
Plain weave; Painted
1 yd. 25 1/4 x 1 yd. 18 5/8 in. (1.55 x 1.38 m)
Elizabeth Bayley Willis Collection
Keywords: Human figures; Plant motifs; Floral motifs; Animal (cow); Religious motif (Krishna and Hindu)
The pichhavai (from pichha, "the back") is a temple cloth placed behind the image of Sri Nathji, a manifestation of Krishna as worshipped by the Vallabhacharya sect of Nathadwara. This cotton pigment-painted textile is the most important hanging in a set of temple cloths. Together they create an atmosphere of splendor in the haveli (a large open house with several inner courtyards) where Shri Nathji's image is installed. This atmosphere contrasts with other Hindu temples in which the outer walls are decorated, while the inner sanctum is small, sparse, and dimly lit. A large central image of Sri Nathji dominates the pichhavai. His dress indicates not only the season but also the time of day. This reflects the daily ritual bathing, dressing, and feeding of Sri Nathji at prescribed times throughout the year. He is surrounded by attendants and worshippers wearing Rajasthani regional dress. Four gods of the Hindu pantheon in their celestial chariots observe from above. Each of the twenty-four panels typically enclosing a pichhavai depict Sri Nathji resplendent in garments. The garments represent the twenty-four different festivals of importance to the sect. These pigment-painted textiles differ from dye-painted textiles. The pigment does not penetrate the fibers but rests on the surface as in a painting. -- Label copy for Courtyard, Bazaar, Temple: Traditions of Textile Expressions in India, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA, June 12 - July 25, 1982.
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