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Making of Phad Paintings


The procedures for making Pabuji and Devnarayan Phads are similar. After receiving a commission, the artist buys a long piece of hand spun and hand woven cloth. Next, the surface of the cloth is starched and burnished so it will not absorb pigments.

Pigments are ground by hand and mixed with water and gum. Light yellow (pila, hartal) is made from yellow orpiment, which will fade away over time. It is used to sketch all the figures and structures. The orange (mundo barno) or saffron (kesriya) color used to paint faces and flesh is made by mixing red lead oxide (sindur) with some yellow powder (orpimat-Hartal) available in the market. Green (hara) is made from verdigris (jangal), acetate of copper. Brown (geru) is purchased in the market in powder form. Vermilion (hinglu, lal) is produced by pulverizing chunks of cinnabar (mercury sulfide are). Some- times it is mixed with red oxide (sindur) to cut costs. Black (kala, syahi) is used to outline the details of all figures. It is made either by burning coconut shells or by collecting lampblack from burning edible oil. Blue (Indigo) is commercially available.

After the cloth is ready and the light yellow pigment is pre-phaded, the painter sketches the entire program. This is a called making a map (naksha banana) or giving an out line (Chankana) during the sketching process, the total program is defined.

Next, the successive application of colors begins. Each color is applied one at a time directly from its bowl to all the places where it occurs throughout the painting. Coloring starts with filling in faces (mundo bharno). When applying this saffron color, the artist carefully leaves a place for eyes and maintains proper body proportions. Yellow, green, brown, and red are applied one after the other. By applying the lighter colors first, and using. increasingly darker colors with each application, the artist progressively readjusts the boundaries between other colors and the background. In this way, the form of the figures is perfected.

The most laborious task is applying the black outline. This takes days because of the detail required for every figure the black outline is completed, the black and blue surfaces are filled in.


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