Pichwai comes from two Sanskrit words ‘pich’ and ‘wai’ which together mean back hanging. Colourful pictures like this one were designed to be placed on the wall behind the image of the Hindu god Shrinathji (Krishna as a child). This painting tradition originated in the 17th century from the holy town of Nathdwara in the state of Rajasthan. Pichwai were used to tell stories about Krishna to the illiterate. This tradition continues today and is enjoyed by many people. Here we see Krishna surrounded by followers called Gopi, which means ‘cow-herd girl’.

Catalogue Description
This is a recent tourist copy of a Kangra or Pahari School miniature painting. These schools of painters from Himachal Pradesh in Northern India created delicate paintings, many depicting the exploits of the Hindu God Krishna as told in the great Indian poem the, Gita Govinda. Here we see the teenage Krishna flirting with the adoring gopis, the girls who attended the cows. He is dressed in his characteristic yellow dhoti (waist cloth) with his right leg crossed over his left. In the waters flowing past this idyllic scene, lotus flowers bloom.

Krishna is a much loved Hindu God for his naughty exploits as a baby, to his flirtatious adventures as a teenage and his transformation into a great man. His stories feature in several of the great poems and epics of Hinduism.
These pieces can be bought all over India for small amounts of money and they are a popular souvenir as they can be brought back in the suitcase. It is unlikely that it was actually made in Himachal Pradesh, more likely it was made in one of the factories producing such pieces for the tourist industry. There is merit in interpreting it as a storytelling device and as an example of the kinds of tourist work being made in India in the late 20th century. However, it should be seen as an example of Kangra/Pahari School art.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Collection Area Region
Common Name
Simple Name
Production Town
Production County
Production Country
Production Year High
pre 2006

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painting on cloth