Steeped in tradition, pichvais is a 400 year old art form that originated in the holy town of Nathdwara, near Udaipur. The name ‘Pichvais’ derives from the words, ‘pich’ meaning back and ‘vai’, meaning wall hanging; these are intricately hand painted, embroidered, or woven on textiles. In veneration of Lord Krishna, and as adornment in temples, pichvais weave an untold magic of the Lord’s life with pleasing colours and beautifully depicted serene expressions, or ‘bhav’.
The Festival of Cows or Gopashtami, occurs in late autumn to celebrate Krishna’s elevation from a herder of calves to a cowherd. Frolicking calves populate the flower-strewn field, while Shrinathji stands resplendent in the middle of the scene. The legend of Krishna, safeguarding the people of Vrindavan against a thunderstorm, by lifting the Govardhan Parvat on his little finger, is indicated in this painting with the deity’s raised left hand. The extensive use of gold and silver leaf is typical of pichwais made for a community of Shrinathji devotees who moved to Deccan during this period.