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India reflects a rich or vibrant heritage of culture and We have managed to still keep it alive, the ancient influences or stories can still be witnessed in modern times. Painting has been an important part of our culture and an important source to learn about the culture or traditions. One such traditional painting is Phad painting.
Around seven hundred old legacies passed on from generations within a single family which was the Joshi family belonging to Chipa caste in Shahpura near Bhilwara, Rajasthan, adding uniqueness to the history of these folk art paintings. The priests used to give a commission to Joshi family for using their paintings in their performance (the tradition of storytelling by Bhopas is still alive in some villages). The traditional Phad paintings used to 30 feet long.
Entire process when it comes to these folk art paintings is steeped in rituals of traditions. The first brush stroke was made by a virgin girl of the artist family and the parts of the story were depicted by dividing the canvas into sections while the technique was taught only to the artist who remained in the Joshi family due to which the only daughter-in-law was taught this art and not daughters.
As this tradition was heavily guarded, the threat of it fading away was natural due to which Shree Lal Ji Joshi who is a renowned Phad painter and Padma Shree awardee, broke the tradition of the art being taught only in the family by setting up Joshi Kala Kunj in Bhilwara itself where artist outside the Joshi family was taught the art of Phad. The school was rebranded to Chitrashala from which over the time 3000 students have been trained. Since the Phad paintings mostly depicted narratives of folk deities like Devnarayanji and Pabuji, it started including stories and characters from Mahabharata, Ramayana, Hanuman Chalisa, Panchatantra and various mythological tales so that it appeals to a larger audience.
The size of the paintings was reduced to 2-4 feet keeping up with the demand and limitation of the modern home. Written text in the artwork was also introduced which was not seen in the traditional Phad painting.
But even after all the efforts, there are only a few artists practising this art form full time as it is not a lucrative profession
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