Raised in families that observe the Jain faith, the stories we heard and festivals we were part of, usually extolled the virtues of renunciation. There was Mahavira Walking away from a princely life, shunning worldly possessions and passions to attain moksha. The accounts lefts us moved. But our spirit lifted visibly when the tales turned to the adventures of Krishna, the naughty butter thief, the brave slayer of the evil Kamsa, the friend and tormentor of the Gopis of Vrindavana. We glimpsed, if only at second-hand, the world and its happenings as the playground of Krishna's lila, joyously embraced by some of our friend and neighbours of the Pushti Marg.
Much later, those childhood tales and lilas of Krishna seemed to come alive in the colourful spectacles of the Pichhwais of Shrinathji. It was easy to get attracted to them and, as collectors, we let impulse have it say for a fuller understanding and awareness of age and style, we invariably turned to our artist friend Amit Ambalal. Over the years, his deep knowledge of the subject, critical insight and guidance have helped us every step of the way and enlivened our trips together to the bazaars, alleyways and tea stalls of Nathdwara.
We could not possibly have appreciated the connection between the Pichhwai painter of Nathdwara and his inspirational poetic muse without the intervention of P.P.G 108 Shri Shyam Manoharji (Kishangarh), himself a connoisseur of music and act. We remain deeply indebted to him for selecting the padas, verses in Vrajabhasha, appropriate for specific Pichhwais which are represented in this volume.
P.P.G. 108 Shri Parag Kumarji Maharaj Shri and Shri Naimish Kumarji Maharaj Shri of Trutyia Ghar, Kankroli, painstakingly fielded our unending barrage of questions, where they happened to be in Surat, Baroda or Kankroli. Shri Naimish Bawashri's keen aesthetic vision and many-layered explanations provided a stimulus to the TAPI research team in charge of the catalogue entries. We sincerely than them both.
It was a learning experience for us to have the renowned Nathdwara artist Shri Revashankarji Sharma, great grand nephew of Ghasiramji, examine ach and every pichhwai of our Nathdwara collection in tandem with our artist friend Lalit Sharma who also hails from a long line of pichhwai artists. Their observations and comments on line, style and pigments have provided invaluable guidance to the TAPI team.
At a critical juncture in the project, Giraben Sarabhai came forward with advice and direction that motivated us to keep it going for which we are deeply grateful.
Long distance help came from Rosemary Crill of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Jeremy Farrell (Keeper of Costumes and Textiles, Nottingham City Museums and Galleries), and Gira Gratier in Brussels. We truly appreciate their inputs.
The idea of exhibiting our Pichhwais first occurred in May 2003 during a visit by Dr. Kalyan Krishna, an old family friend, to Surat to study our collection. We thank him and his colleague Kay Talwar for their valuable contribution to this project.
The eminent art historian Dr. B.N. Goswamy has been a source of constant encouragement I our efforts to publish and exhibit aspects of our collection. We are honoured to have the introductory Essay for this volume, "A Realm of the senses" authored by him.
We thank the Director General, the Director Exhibitions and PR, the Curator of Decorative Arts, Director Display, and the team of the National Museum, New Delhi for their initiative and co-operation in mounting the exhibition, "in Adoration of Krishna: Pichhwais of Shrinathji" form the TAPI collection.
Last but not least, we acknowledge with pride, the enthusiastic efforts of th TAPI team in Surat, Mumbai and Delhi Sujata Parsai, Munira Akikwala, Kamaljit Kaur, Marie Pereira, H.P. Dhaduk, Kaushik Gajjar, Pankaj Desai and other members of the staff not named here. Harshad Shah and Yusuf Akikwala of Garden Silk Mills Ltd. Have once again carried for us the burden of co-ordination and follow-up. Purushottam Chaturvedi, G.L. Narayan Rameshbhai and Kalpanaben Kanakia and Indiraben Patel Clarified out doubt on the religious aspect of the subject.
It would hardly be fair to close this note without recording our appreciation Tulsi Vatsal for her suggestions, and to our editor Carmen Kagal and designer Khurshed Ponnawala of Comart Lithographer Ltd. For putting this book in our hands.
In Adoration of Krishna: Pichhwais of Shrinathji unveils the wondrous world of Pichhwais the devotional textiles that hang behind the image of Krishna as Shrinathji, worshipped by followers of Pushti Marg (the Path of Grace) in India. Represented here are masterpieces from Praful and Shilpa Shah's TAPI (Textiles & Art of the People India) collection of Surat, regarded as one of he most significant repositories of India's textile art. Never before has this subject been treated in such depth: the book covers the background of the sect, the place of these temple hangings in ritual practice, and the vast range of mediums and techniques involved in pichhwais production, from the painted pichhwais of Nathdwara and North India, through the artistic gilded prints of the Deccan and the complex Kalamkri dye-patterned pieces of the Coromandel Coast. Also represented is a rare 17th century, commemorative zardozi pichhwai, and examples of embroidery in silk, pichhwais in brocade, tinsel-prints and, finally, machine-printed fabrics and lace from foreign shores the range is encompassing. In addition, there are miniature paintings on paper, on glass, and even pasted on wood, all of them associated with the Vallabhacharya sect. Will each type lavishly illustrated in colour, the book is a visual and aesthetic delight.
An evocative introduction by Prof. B.N. Goswamy leads on to articles on the two main centres of pichhwai-making by textile scholars Dr. Kalyan Krishna and Kay Talwar. The entries cataloguing the collection and describing each pichhwai, the result of painstaking effort by the TAPI research team, constitute a mine of information. A unique feature of the book is a selection of stories translated from early vernacular accounts of the sect by Prof. Karuna Goswamy.
In Adoration of Krishna is an invaluable resource for designers, art historians and anyone interested in the decorative arts of Indian textiles in the context of the spiritual lives of thousands of people in this part of the world.
Dr. Kalyan Krishna is Professor and Head of the Department of History of Art at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), from where he obtained an M.A. in Art History. He also holds an M.A in Museum Practice from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Mughal Painting of the Akbar Period from BHU. Dr. Krishna was formerly a Fulbright Teaching fellow at the University of Syracuse, New York, and Curator at the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad. Among his publications are Pigment Paintings on Cloth and India Costumes Dr. Krishna is a follower of Pushit Marg.
Kay Talwar holds an M.A. in Art History from the University of Michigan. Since the publication Indian Pigment Paintings on Cloth by her and Kalyan Krishna, she has been involved in the India community of Los Angeles, promoting and supporting Indian art and cultural activities. For six years she served as Chairman of the Southern Asian Art Council at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Dr. B. N. Goswamy
B.N. Goswamy, Professor Emeritus of art History at the Punjab University, Chandigarh, is a distinguished art historian and a leading authority on Indian art, especially Pahari painting. He has received many honours, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the Rietberg Award from Switzerland, and India's Padma Shri.
Among Dr. Goswamy's publication are: Pahari Painting; Painters at the Sikh Court; Essence of Indian Art; Pahari Master: Court Painters of Northern India, and Piety and Splendour; Sikh Heritage in Art.
Professor Goswamy has been responsible for major exhibitions of Indian art in Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, San Diego, and Frankfurt, He has been Visiting Professor at the Universities of Heidelberg, Pennsylvania, California, Zurich and Texas, and he has lectured extensively at museums and universities in Europe, the U.S. and India.
Karuna Goswamy was till recently Professor of History at the Punjab University, Chandigarh. The Principal area of her interest is the cultural history of India. Among her chief publications are: Vaishnavism in the Punjab Hills and Pahari Painting; The Glorification of the Great Goddess; and Kashmiri Painting. She is currently a fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.
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