Traditionally meant to adorn the walls of temples behind the idol of Shrinathji at Nathdwara, Picchwai paintings can be identified by the characteristic features of large eyes, broad nose, and a heavy body, similar to the features on the idol of Shrinath Ji. Historically, the paintings were created by members of the Adi Gaud caste using traditional stone colours, and gold on cotton.
“To create a Picchwai, the painter first makes a rough sketch, and then fills in the colours. Traditionally, natural colours and brushes made of horse, goat, or squirrel hair were used and the use of pure gold in the paintings added to their value, and charm. The art of making Picchwais has been handed down in my family for generations. It was my father, and uncles who taught me the art of creating subtly dark outlines and filling them up with lighter soft tones.”
Picchwais can be painted, embroidered, printed or woven in appliqué. In the early days, Picchwais was done on loose, rough, hand-spun fabric, and painted in permanent natural colours that were extracted from vegetables, and minerals.