Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mata Ni Pachedi

Earlier this year (Beginning of June to be precise), I had the opportunity to visit Ahmedabad for documenting a craft as a college assignment. My group chose Mata ni Pachedi - a dying art of Gujarat. We documented the craft and wrote a book about it!! Following is a synopsis(a shorter version) fabricated by my dearest friend Ishani and me.

Indian temples have been centers of art and architecture since ancient times. Each temple according to geographic locations has their own art style, motifs, representation of deities and their stories. Clothes of the deities, their adornments and vibrant temple hangings have intensified the ambience of these temples. The main textile art that evolves from the temples are depicted in the temple hangings. These pieces of cloth are embroidered or painted with stories about the relevant God.

Although Gujarat is known for its exquisite embroidery, the lesser known art of Kalamkari is equally appealing and unique. Kalamkari refers to a method of painting natural dyes onto cotton or silk fabric with a bamboo pen or kalam. When one thinks of Kalamkari it is usually associated with the one that is done in the South of the country (Andhra Pradesh) predominately portraying a variety of Hindu narrative themes, including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Shiva Purana. Kalamkari in Gujarat differs from that done in South with its central theme – the Mataji.

Mata Ni Pachedi, as we researched, was a sparsely known art practice by Vaghri community in Ahmedabad. This heightened our curiosity and as the opportunity came along we decided to pursue our quest in researching more about this beautiful this beautiful but obscure art form. Mata ni Pachedi represents the art history, creativity and cultural heritage of the Vaghri community now settled in Ahmadabad.


The Vaghri Harijans settled in Ahmadabad make their living by block printing and painting shrine cloth known as Mata ni Pachedi or Mata no Chandarvo. These imposing textiles are used as canopies over the image of the mother Goddess. Traditionally the shrine cloths were made by the Vaghri Harijan community who were not allowed to enter the temples. They made the Pachedis as an offering to the Goddesses.
The cloth has a formal patterned quality, strong and bold, reinforced by the starkness of red and black. Pachedis are used in religious ceremonies and record the myths and legends associated with the living traditions of the people.

Always, the goddess is the destroyer of evil with weapons in all her ten arms looking fierce and commanding, invoking awe and fear in the onlooker. She is at the center, the focus of the painting with motifs of deities, priests, devotees, angels and animals drawn around her. Often they are performing garba, a traditional dance in the honor of the mother goddess. These are narratives from epics arranged in columns around her. The themes, stories, dimensions and proportions of the motifs are interpreted differently according to the artist’s sensibility and visualization. Many legends are depicted in these Pachedis. They are usually derived from Puranic myths. What remains constant is the Mataji, who according to the Vaghri tribes, protects and helps people.
Traditionally maroon and black were the colors used, with the surface of the material as the third color. The maroon and black colors were natural dyes sourced from alizarin and oxidized metal. To meet contemporary tastes, the Vaghris have started using other natural colours adding yellow, blue orange, rust, grey and even pink to the colour palette.
Contrasts between positive and negative spaces formed an important balancer to the work. The maroon and black colors were natural dyes sourced from alizarin and oxidized metal Maroon was associated with the color of the Earth mother or Gaea and believed to possess healing powers. White was considered the color for purity and contact with ancestral spirits, deities and other unknown spiritual entities. The color black was meant to repel malevolent spirits and intensify spiritual energy.
As time went by the community got introduced to pigment dyes which had begun arriving in Gujarat for a fledging textile industry. Exposure to a. wider palette meant a riot of color and shade in the Pachedi. These are however not used for religious purposes and are purely decorative.

The most common motifs, apart from Mataji astride a bull or a tiger, include lady with a flower, trumpeters, angels, flowers, the tree of life and animals such as peacock, tiger, parrot etc.

All the materials used in the creation of Mata ni Pachedi are organic. The dyes, the fabrics (such as cotton, khadi, silk etc), the bamboo stick kalams are all made up of naturally available products. Extremely eco-friendly in its nature, Mata ni Pachedi reinforces the use of non-polluting, wholesome materials which do not compromise in making outstanding aesthetic pieces.


Our teacher and mentor Mr. Sanjay Manubhai Chitara lives in Jivraj Park, Ahmadabad. The main and only occupation of him and his family is making the pachedis. The government has recognized the art and given due to the artisans for their skill and mastery by awarding them both state level and national level awards. Sanjaybhai realizes the importance of marketing and selling the craft. He tries to travel as much as possible to create awareness and introduce his art to a wider audience.


Mata ni Pachedi is a textile art so the most obvious ways in which it can be displayed are wall hangings, bed sheets and table linen. But these require big pieces and therefore it becomes too expensive for the consumer to buy.
Our main aim was to dilute the immense cost of creating the art piece so that quantity could be achieved at a shorter span of time. And also making interesting ready to use products that would excite customers from all age groups; such as shoes, pocket patches, buttons etc for youngsters, religious book stands for elders. Bags, belts, playing cards, vanity boxes and diary covers are other options.
In order to keep the authenticity of the art alive and yet make it look contemporary, motifs remained the same but different mediums were tried out. Due to religious beliefs, motifs of Mataji cannot be used on articles such as shoes and pocket patches but animals and flowers can be used generously.


The common trait that binds all dying arts is that the new generation lacks the patience to invest time and effort in an art that is an unpredictable form of income relying on the patronage of a few who have the knowledge and deep pockets to pay for the masterpieces.
Every aspect of the Pachedi evokes awe, trance and even fear. All in all, Mata ni Pachedi is an exquisite form of art whose splendor can not be ignored.

Some products that we made with the help of Sanjaybhai:

Quoted from Mr. Vaghela Bharat's e-mail :

I am in high spirits to read your Article of " Mata Ni Pachhedi" which is very important in our cast people. People are praying to "Mata Ni Pachhedi" . They can not see it until next "Matadi Yagna".

But I am unhappy with your Language used for our CAST word Vaghari Harizan. This word was Vaghari before in 20th Sanctuary, not Vaghari Harizan.
But upon Request by Social Leaders with the help of our public unity , BJP Government in 21st Sanctuary changed our cast from VAGHARI to DEVIPUJAK. So, After 20st Sanctuary NO BODY is Allowed to say " VAGHARI"; but only "DEVIPUJAK" .

And we are allowed to enter in any temple of God /Goddess , no body can restrict our people to enter in any Temple. You had been used a wrong sentence in your Article that "Our People restricted to enter in temple".

I apologize for causing any kind of offense to anyone at all. This article was purely meant to promote the art of Mata ni Pachedi. Kindly forgive me for not clarifying certain details.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Breaking Dawn

Absolutely new to the world of blogging.. rusty hold on my creative usage of language.. Up at 2:07 am.. wondering why shouldn't i just watch south park instead.. well.. here goes nothing...!!

Avika - Beautiful as rose, strong as Earth.
The name that justifies our baby princess. A week old, 2.5 kgs heavy little bundle of energy has changed my life from boring, dull, meaningless to a roller coaster of joy and excitement! I cannot begin to express the happiness i feel for my brother and his wife.

Trust me having a baby is really not as easy as it looks on T.V !! A sparkling clean baby is NOT delivered to you the minute the mother gives birth. We had to wait for almost 2 hours before we could actually hold the kid in our hand!!
Since then she has done everything from crying to smiling, peeing to pooping in her daddy's hands, farting and burping and a LOT of sleeping and feeding!!

Hours of looking at her is not enough. Its funny how we manage to look at babies give out adorable expressions without getting tired. (*sigh* how I wish someone observes every expression I make while sleeping and goes "Awwww..!!" *sigh*). New borns hold a strong resemblance to old grannies don't you think? Toothless smiles, wrinkled skin, excessive sleep, require endless attention... Its amazing how life comes a full circle.. and at the end of it we still wonder.. what are we doing here?!

It's 2:28.. i m super sleepy so m gonna end it here with a little poem i had written earlier:


Dark, wet and a spongy layer,
Wraps me up with a safety gear.

A radiant light enters my shell,

I hear a woman yell!

This is the world, this is the norm,
Thousands of questions in my mind roam.

These are your hands and these are your feet,
With the society you ought to be sweet.

But what is the society?

And why are there rules?

What is this life?

And why are we treated like mules?

Why should I go to school mother?

Why should I mimic another’s dream?
Why can’t I discover for myself

The basic motive of my being?

We are all the puppets of God my dear,

We must adhere to our form.

We are continually prodded by sin and fear,

Inherently we must resign to this norm.

Society and people dictate my life,

At 25 I Must become a wife.

I’m ripped of my basic attire,

At 60 I Must retire.

Now I face the withered being in the mirror,

Suddenly there is a burst of terror,

I shiver as my muscles tense,

Deceit is what I strongly sense.

I am successful,

This is my name,

This is my body,

This is my frame.

But if this is my body,

What is my soul?

Who am I,

After all?

How did I enter the dark wet shell?

Who played this trick so well?

My torso will wither once I die,

But where will “I” go I fail to defy.

Why did I do all that I did?

Why was there good & bad deed?

Why did I follow the rule?

Why was I such a big fool?

But alas, I had to fulfill my deed,

Whether good or bad I was made to do what I did.

I Had to follow THEIR rule,

Or I would have been ‘their’ fool.

Until next time. good night!!