Phad Art

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Phad is a type of scroll artwork that depicts religious stories regarding local gods and deities in great detail. These ancient paintings were held by Rabari priest singers named Bhopas and Bhopis, who would sing and portray stories about their local god Devnarayanji and Pabuji as moving or portable temples. The Phad art would unfold after sunset for a performance in front of village residents, which would perform the whole night and end in the early morning. These performances explain why this artwork is termed ‘Phad,’ which in the local language is called ‘fold.’

Phad Art


Phad Art is an Indian traditional painting art form that is mostly practiced in the Indian state of Rajasthan. This art pattern is known as religious scroll painting.  This long scroll is known as a Phad. This is 700 years old art. In past, it was created in Rajasthan by the Joshi family. This art has been passed from one generation to another generation in their families. They are classic artists. Local gods of Rajasthan, Pabuji, and Devnarayan are the most popular characters in these Phads.

Ancient Art:

The Phad artwork is a hybrid of Mughal and Rajput techniques. Pabuji’s phads are approximately 15 feet long and Devnarayan’s phads are about 30 feet long. These Phads served as portable temples for local and Hindu folk gods. While the Bhopas’ storytelling tradition is still alive and well in some villages, the significance of Phad art has increased massively, thanks to the efforts of several members of the Joshi family to raise awareness of Phad as a form of art.

Making of Phad Art:                             

Phad paintings are made on rough cotton cloth that has been wet overnight to thicken the threads. Then it is stiffened with rice or wheat flour starch, stretched, sun-dried, and rubbed with a moonstone to smooth out the surface and provide a shine.

Phad paintings are made entirely of natural materials, including natural fibers and natural pigments derived from flowers, stones, herbs and plants. The artisans combine the paints with glue and water before putting them on the cloth. Phad painters must be exceptionally competent and stick to historical methods. Artwork can take a few weeks or many months to finish depending on its complexity.

Colors of Phad Art:

Orange, green, red, yellow, brown, blue, and black are common colors which are used in Phad art. Yellow is used for the initial outline as well as decorations and attire, orange is used for limbs and the lower body, green is used for vegetation and trees, brown is used for ancient buildings, red is used for flags and royal clothing and blue is used for curtains or water. Black is placed towards the finish as outlines.

Women construct the colors while men construct the canvas. It is said that after the artist paints the primary deity’s eyes, the artwork comes to life and is available to worship, so that’s why the eyes are painted last. After that, the artist was unable to continue working on his painting.

Colors of Phad Art

Historical Traditions:

The procedures and customs that go into making a Phad artwork are extensive. In the past, a virgin girl from the artist’s family applied the first paint brush, after that the painter split the canvases into pieces as per the sections of the tale being portrayed. Phad painting methods were only taught to those who would stay in the Joshi family, not to those who would go. This artwork is not taught to the daughters of the family but the artwork is taught to the daughter in law.


The Phad art form is currently acknowledged and well–known nationally, and also internationally. Almost 108 Phads on Ramcharitmanas are some of the most popular Phad artworks. Shree Lal Joshi is a well-known Phad artist who has garnered numerous national and international honors, including the Padma Shree and the Shilpguru award.

The art form was on the brink of dying and required to be revived right away, so that’s why Shree Lal Joshi, a well-known Phad artist stepped in. There is a necessity in today’s society to encourage such great creative values from history. Phad preserves tales and legends that have travelled over generations and portray India’s beautiful culture, despite its aesthetic attractiveness.

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