Crafts of Rajasthan Ethnic & Folk Paintings Ethnic Arts & Crafts Ethnic Paintings of India

The Vibrant World of Phad Paintings: A Window into Rajasthan’s Rich Culture

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः ॐ श्री शिवानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री चिदानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री दुर्गायै नमः 

Source of all Images in this Blog-post : Google Images : ‘Google Image Search’ will reveal the multiple sources of every single image shared in this Blog. For more details, kindly see ‘Disclaimer

Delhi Crafts Council’s Covid-19 Atisans Help Fund

Google Images of Rajasthani Phad Paintings : A Visual Feast to the Eyes

Make my own Rajasthani Phad Painting provided by Colorbox Art Academy |  Jaipur, Jaipur District - Tripadvisor

Shopping : Buy Phad Paintings Online

Phad painting, also known as Phad, is a style of religious scroll painting and folk painting that originated in the Rajasthan state of India. This distinctive style of painting is traditionally created on a long piece of cloth or canvas known as a Phad, with the narratives of the folk deities of Rajasthan, particularly Pabuji and Devnarayan, depicted in vivid detail.

The intricate and colorful illustrations on these Phads bring to life the tales of the region’s rich cultural heritage, making them an important part of Rajasthan’s artistic and religious traditions.

In Rajasthan, the Bhopas, who are priest-singers, play a significant role in the tradition of Phad painting. They carry the painted Phads with them, using them as mobile temples for the worship of the folk deities that are revered by the Rebari community in the region.

The phads dedicated to Pabuji are usually about 15 feet in length, while those dedicated to Devnarayan are generally about 30 feet long. These intricately painted phads are traditionally created using vegetable colors, which lend them their distinctive earthy hues and add to their cultural and historical significance.

Through their religious and artistic expressions, the Phads of Rajasthan continue to inspire and enchant audiences across the globe.

Google Images of Rajasthani Phad Paintings : A Visual Feast to the Eyes

For over two centuries, the Joshi families of Bhilwara and Shahpura in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district have been recognized as the traditional artists of Phad painting.

Today, this unique art form is carried forward by a group of highly skilled artists, including Shree Lal Joshi, Nand Kishor Joshi, Pradip Mukherjee, Prakash Joshi, Ghanshyam Joshi and Shanti Lal Joshi.

These artists are widely acclaimed for their creativity and innovative approach to Phad painting, which has helped to revitalize this age-old tradition and bring it to a new generation of art enthusiasts. Through their work, the Joshi families continue to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan and the art of Phad painting.

Shopping : Buy Phad Paintings Online

Phad painting, a traditional art form of Rajasthan, includes popular works such as Devnarayan Ki Phad and Pabuji Ki Phad. Shree Lal Joshi and Pradip Mukherjee revolutionized this style about forty years ago. While Mukherjee’s paintings are based on the stories of Ramcharitmanas, Gita Govinda, Kumārasambhava, Bhagavad Gita and Hanuman Chalisa, Joshi’s family has been practicing this art form for the last two centuries.

Initially, the art of Phad painting was exclusively practiced by the Joshi community. However, in 1960, Shree Lal Joshi opened a school called ‘Joshi Kala Kendra’ for everyone to learn this art style. The school is now known as ‘Chitrashala’. Today, artists such as Nand Kishor Joshi, Prakash Joshi, Ghanshyam Joshi and Shanti Lal Joshi are also renowned for their creativity and innovation in this art form.

A Glimpse of Phad Paintings of Rajasthan through Google Images

About Phad Paintings of Rajasthan :

Phad Paintings, originating from Rajasthan, India, are a unique folk painting style that serve as the backdrop for an elaborate ritualistic song and dance performance.

Folk balladeers travel from village to village and use these paintings to create an evening of magic and entertainment.

These paintings provide a vivid and colorful portrayal of the stories of folk deities like Pabuji and Devnarayan, as well as scenes from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. They are painted on long pieces of cloth or canvas, which are carried by the Bhopas, the priest-singers who use them as mobile temples of the folk deities.

Phad Handmade Painting, पैड पेंटिंग, फड़ पेंटिंग, फड़ चित्रकारी - Shrinath  Arts, Bhilwara | ID: 14190231733

The name “Phad” is derived from the folds or layers of cloth on which the paintings are created. These paintings are typically unrolled or opened only in the evenings, when the balladeers perform the folk epics, making for a captivating and immersive experience for the audience.

Phad paintings are typically made on a long piece of cloth or canvas, and are used to depict the stories of local hero-gods, primarily Pabuji and Devnarayanji. These paintings often depict a series of narrative incidents in a specific style, and are used as a visual aid to accompany the performances of the traditional folk epics.

Phad Painting mix media on canvas | Art painting, Phad painting, Rajasthani  art

In Phad paintings, it is a common practice to use vegetable colors, and in recent times, artists have also started using chemical colors. The colors used are generally bright and vivid, and the outlines of the figures are usually in black. The artists use a brush made from goat hair, and the final paintings are treated with a mixture of tamarind seed powder, water, and gum to make the colors brighter and long-lasting.

Phad paintings are traditionally very wide to accommodate the numerous episodes of the complex stories they depict.

Another interesting feature of these paintings is that the figures always face each other instead of the viewer, creating a sense of interaction between the characters. This unique aspect of the painting style is said to have originated from the Phad performances where the balladeers would hold the paintings up and point to different characters as they narrated the story.

Rajasthani Phad Painting Handmade Indian Folk Miniature Royal Maharani Wall  Art | eBay

It’s great to see traditional art forms evolve and adapt to modern times while still maintaining their essence.

Shopping : Buy Phad Paintings Online

History of Phad Paintings :

While the exact origin of Phad scrolls is not known, it is believed that they date back to several centuries ago. It is said that the tradition of Phad painting was started by Chochu Bhat, a devotee of Lord Devnarayan and a chronological mentor of Devnarayan’s clan.

Natkhat Krishna PHAD Painting -

Devnarayan is a revered hero and folk-deity who was believed to be an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. According to legend, he was born in the year 968 (911 AD) of the Vikram Era (Hindu Calendar) as the son of Sawai Bhoj Bagaravat, a warrior of the Gurjar community, and his wife Sadu Maata Gurjari.

Narikunjar PHAD Painting -

Pabuji is worshipped as a folk-deity. He lived in 14th century in a remote village known as Kolu, near Jodhpur, in Rajasthan. The Phad represents his divine character as an incarnation of Laxmana (brother of the Rama of the Ramayana Hindu epic story).

History of Phad Painters :

It seems there may be some confusion regarding the caste of Phad painters. While it is true that the Joshi family is widely known as traditional artists of this folk art-form, the Chipa caste, also known as Chhipa, is traditionally associated with textile printing and dyeing. However, over time, members of different castes have also taken up Phad painting as a profession.

Phad Painting at Rs 5500/piece | पैड पेंटिंग, फड़ पेंटिंग, फड़ चित्रकारी -  Shrinath Arts, Bhilwara | ID: 14190282691

Google Images of Rajasthani Phad Paintings : A Visual Feast to the Eyes

The Phad painting tradition dates back to the 10th century when Chochu Bhat commissioned a Joshi Phad painter to create a painting depicting the life of Devnarayan. Impressed with the artwork, Devnarayan granted the privilege to the Joshi caste to create Phad paintings, and since then, the Joshi community has been involved in the art form.

The Joshis trace their origins to Pur near Bhilwara in Rajasthan, and in the 16th century, they migrated to Shahpura. Towards the end of the 19th century, some Phad artists moved from Shahpura to Bhilwara and established a new center for Phad artists.

Some of the most notable Phad artists are Shree Lal Joshi, Pradeep Mukherjee, Nand Kishor Joshi, Shanti Lal Joshi, who are known for their innovations and creativity. Today, Prakash Joshi and Mukut Joshi continue to follow in their lineage and practice the art form.



Since Phad paintings are traditionally story based paintings and legends of Devnarayan and Pabuji are chiefly painted but other than these two folk deities stories of Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Buddha, Hanuman, Goddess Kali, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha are also painted. Life Stories of Historical & Mythological characters are also painted. Sometimes Love stories, Erotica, Philosophical, Psychological, Social & Contemporary subjects are even painted. Here are some of them :

Story of Pabuji
Story of Devnarayan
Story of Narikunjar (Nine Women elephant)
Story of Panchtatva ka Ghoda (Five men Horse)
Story of Dhola-Maaru
Story of Gan-gaur
Story of Hadi Rani
Story of Haldi Ghati
Story of Lord Krishna
Story of Lord Rama & Seeta
Story of Prithviraj Chauhan
Story of Rani Padmini

The origin of Phad Painting was in the year 1629 in Phoolia estate Jagir, presently Shahpura, which was given to Rajadhiraj Suraj Mal in consideration of his services rendered to the Emperor Shahjahan. Later the capital Phoolia was shifted to the newly settled town named Shahpura in honour of the Emperor Shahjahan.

The Joshi family had already initiated and developed this art much earlier to the existence of Shahpura which happened to be one of the Princely States in Rajasthan.

The art is known not only for its vibrant colours but also the fact that it is accompanied by an oral tradition of rendering the Gatha (folklore).

Khadi cloth for phad scroll was woven by Koli. The masters of the Brahmin community narrate the story in Shahpura school language that translates the folklores of deities likes Devnarayanji (Incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and Pabuji (Avtaar of Laxman).

To prepare the canvas they get the cloth from weavers of Koli community, soak it overnight to thicken the fibres and stiffen the cloth with starch of boiled flour and gum, then it is burnished with moonstone which makes the surface smooth and gives it a sheen. The colours are extracted out of minerals.

The scale of the figures in the painting depicts the social status of the character in the story. What is also interesting is that the figures face each other, not the audience.

Bhopas, or bards, are the narrators, singers and dancers who communicate to the audience through the songs, dance and instrumental music. Bhopas use the Ravanhatta, a musical instrument to accompany the songs. Ravanhatta is a fiddle-like instrument and is played with a horsehair bow which has a small bell attached.

Rabari tribe workship Pabuji (Avtar of Laxman, born in Rathore family) believing that Pabuji protects their cattles.

During the performance, the performer’s assistance illuminates certain parts of the painting with the oil lamp and performer recounts the epic with the songs and dance to the accompaniment of a musical instrument. The performer serves as a priest by employing the paintings as a mobile shine.

After making all arrangements for the performance, the Bhopa begins to sing lura (hymns) to hero God. The recitation and singing continue all night long.

The audience, which knows many of the words of the epic, may join the Bhopa in the singing. Just before dawn, the ceremony ends and the Phad is rolled up.

Used in this manner, Phad paintings wear out after several years of service. When this happens, the painting is ritually destroyed by immersion in a body of water.

This wonderful form of art is preserved by the Joshi family of Shahpura. Shri Shantilal Joshi, a national award winner had learned it from his forefathers and then taught it to his son Shri Vijay Joshi.

This art was not taught to the females of the family to maintain confidentiality, but now they are more open to spread about the technicalities of making a phad.

The generations are narrating unique stories around the present heroes. In 2019, Shri Vijay Joshi has wonderfully narrated a Phad on the life history of Mahatma Gandhi from his birth, upbringing, education, work-life, marriage, leadership speeches, etc. to set a milestone.

Shopping : Buy Phad Paintings Online

Delhi Crafts Council’s Covid-19 Atisans Help Fund

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

But Mala doesn't stop at just sharing her own thoughts and ideas. She welcomes constructive criticisms and suggestions to improve her blog and make it even more impactful. And if you share her passion for India's culture and heritage, she extends a warm invitation for high-quality guest blog posts.

Ready to dive into the world of India's ageless beauty? Follow Mala on LinkedIn and join her in spreading the magic of ancient India to the world.

LinkedIn Profile :

One reply on “The Vibrant World of Phad Paintings: A Window into Rajasthan’s Rich Culture”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.