Origin of Phad Paintings | A Blend of Visual Arts and Performances
by Akshay Dujodwala
A 700-year-old legacy passed down over generations within a single family, Phad finds its origins in Shahpura, near Bhilwara, Rajasthan. Phad is a type of scroll painting that narrates elaborate religious stories of local deities and gods. Created as travelling or mobile temples, these traditional paintings were carried by priest-singers of the Rabari tribe, called Bhopas and Bhopis, who would sing and perform stories of their local deities - Devnarayanji (a reincarnation of Vishnu) and Pabuji (a local hero). The Phad painting would be unrolled, or unfolded after sunset, and the performance in front of village members would last into the night. This is perhaps why the paintings are called ‘Phad’, which means ‘fold’ in the local dialect.