Mata Ni Pachedi (Gujarati Kalamkari Paintings)
Mata ni Pachedi was initially started by the Vagharis. The Vagharis were nomads who lived along the edges of the Sabarmati River in Gujarat. Cultivators and agricultural workers, they also sold or exchanged old goods. Around 300 years ago, they became artists and creators of Mata ni Pachedi, a powerful sort of textile art that serves the aim of a shrine for the marginalised and excluded, of whom they were also a part of.
Mata ni Pachedi is additionally called the Kalamkari Paintings of Gujarat because of its resemblance to the art of Kalamkari Paintings from South India and therefore the same method of painting, namely using a pen (kalam) made out of bamboo.
Mata ni pachedi means ‘behind the mother goddess’ and maybe a cloth that constitutes a temple of the goddess. The story goes that when the nomadic Vaghari community from Gujarat who worships Mata, weren’t allowed to enter temples, they instead created their own places of worship with illustrations of the Mother Goddess (Mata) on pieces of fabric using Dhawda ka Phool (Dhawda flowers, Rajasthan flower locally called) color.
The pachedis are essentially an expression of the divine cosmic energy of the mother goddess and therefore the refore the unified manifestation of the creative and the destructive principles in her person. Pachedi is employed as a cover that forms a shrine or is cover altars or worn by the shaman while worshipping or during a trance.
The Making of Gujarati Kalamkari Paintings
The rectangular fabric is split into seven to nine columns followed by a narrative format which is formed easier to interpret and impart the stories within the space created through layout work on the cloth. Maroon (red) and black were the sole colours used with the surface of the cotton material because of the third colour. Black is majorly used as the outlines for the icons and the motifs meant to repel malevolent spirits and intensify spiritual energy.
White considered being the colour of purity that contacts with ancestral spirits and deities. Maroon (Red) colour of blood (rakta) related to the goddess and believed to possess the healing powers. A central image and surrounding figures vary in size and position as per the artist’s creative imagination and Gujarati Kalamkari Paintings.
The grey fabric is unsuitable for dyeing or printing within the beginning and for this reason, the material is soaked in water for twenty-four hours to get rid of the sizes (starch). Fabric is then soaked within the paste of hard powder (tamarind seed powder) and water for about 10-15 minutes and dried in sun. The sketching of the specified pattern of anybody of the shape of Mata (Goddess) is drawn at the middle and surrounded by other images usually derived from the puranic myths.
Outlines of the drawings are manually painted using bamboo stick/brush with black colour, which is made especially for this Kalamkari art form by heating a mix of jaggery, iron metal (iron sulphate) and kachuka atta (tamarind seed powder), the gaps are crammed with red colour made by heating the mixture of the water, tamarind seed powder and alum. The fabric looks yellow with black coloured figures thereon then dried under direct sunlight.
The fabric is boiled with alizarin which may be a yellow powder made up of the basis of the madder plant, traditionally used as a mordant that reacts with alum to bring out the red colour. Dhawda ka Phool (Dhawda flowers, Rajasthan flower locally called) is added once it reaches the boiling point and checked in intervals to take care of the white areas of the material where it is not painted.
The craftsmen wash the material at the banks of river Sabarmati in order that excess colour flows away and doesn’t stain on the material, then the material is spread on the banks for sun bleaching and drying, where no foot either of anyone is allowed to be placed on this sacred cloth. Work stops completely during the season because the damp wet weather isn’t feasible for printing. One person can make about 25-30 Mata ni pachedi Gujarati Kalamkari Paintings for a month.
Tools & Materials
Different types of raw materials are utilized in making Mata ni Pachedi Gujarati Kalamkari Art work. The raw materials are purchased from local markets. The artisans use natural substances for making colour.
• Tools Used:
Bamboo Stick: Bamboo Stick is used as a brush to fill the outlines of the drawing.
Dates Stick: Dates Stick is employed as a brush to fill within the colours.
Blocks: Designed blocks wont to give the borders on fabric.
Printing Pad: this is often wont to spread the colours evenly in a wooden tray.
• Raw Materials:
Kachuka Atta (tamarind seed) Powder: Kachuka Atta is employed for creating the material yellow.
Alum: Alum is employed as a mordant in making of red colour.
Dhawdi ka Phool (Dhawda flowers, Rajasthan flower): These are wont to make fabric surface whiter.
Algarin Powder: it’s wont to darken the coloured parts.
Passing it on through Legacies
According to the artisans, if there is more work to be completed, the entire family gets involved in the work- preparing/making the fabric, drawing and applying colour, filling, boiling, washing etc. Children within the household slowly start joining the family profession and start showing their interest to this Gujarati Kalamkari Paintings and are involved in filling the colours and altogether the activities are done around them. Wooden blocks are eventually replaced for sharper drawings.
Hand drew Mata ni Pachedi Gujarati Kalamkari Paintings are done side by side but it’s more labour intense and costlier than the block printed ones. The Priests praising the goddess practice animal sacrifice before the Goddess with an offering of a replacement Pachedi to the Goddess.
While craftsmen & artists are refining this folk craft to suit the changing times, yet the sanctity of this religious artefact remains untouched. Creating Mata ni Pachedi also as new illustrations that are relevant in today’s context, but within an equivalent folk style, these craftsmen have remained faithful to the reason for spreading the glory of the Mother Goddess and her wonderful Kalamkari art in Gujarat.
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