Mata-Ni-Pachedi, The Kalamkari of Gujarat

Mother Goddess in one of her incarnations enshrined within a two dimensional rendering of a temple

The temple hangings from Gujarat are locally known as the Mata-ni-Pachedi. The historical evidence of this craft goes back almost two hundred years. Some rural and nomadic people of Gujarat make these hangings for their rituals. The term Mata-ni-Pachedi came from the Gujarati words, Mata,’ goddess’ ni, ‘belongs to’, Pachedi,’ which literally meant behind in Gujarati. In Gujarat, the narrative hangings of epics of Mata or Devi or Shakti were executed by the nomadic community of Waghari and were used by the people of this community.

The unique feature of these temple hangings was that instead of being hung behind an icon, four to five pieces of these hangings were used to form a shrine for the goddess. These hangings used by the nomadic tribe served the purpose of depicting the epics of the mother goddess as well as forming a temporary shrine for her. With the ethnographic settlement of the communities the shrine hangings, served the purpose of narrative pieces of art like other temple hangings of the country. While the chitaras were the artists who painted the shrine hangings, the bhuvo or bhuva used to be the priest to perform the rituals and jagorais were the singers who interpreted the pachedis.

Traditional Mata-ni-Pachedi

Communities of Waghris gradually settled on the outskirts of towns/villages as they shifted from a semi nomadic stage to a fixed state. A Mata-ni-Pachedi for the nomadic Vagharis served the purpose of a portable shrine which today in a settled community who have not completely relinquished their original style of worship serves as a rear wall to the main shrine. A pachedi is always a rectangular piece of fabric as opposed to a Chandarvo which is a canopy serving in place of a ceiling in the nomadic shrine.


dhwani.c said...

hey im a designin student from mumbai..
im currently in ahmedabad to learn mata ni pachedi itself..its indeed a beautiful art
ur blog has been informative

akanksha said...

hi bishakha...i am a textile designer.and i am also interested about the traditional textile craft.its really good that you are binding them together.have seen mata ni pachedi.its really beautiful. i wanna read more about this craft. any way byeeeeee
thanks akanksha

odt said...

Bishakha Hello!

Abhay Mangaldas led me to you...we have a friend in common and I was interested in knowing if Mata ni Pachedi is still being made - when I was in Amdavad as a four-year-old, my parents (we are all very very fond of indigenous arts and crafts in India and beyond) ...we used to buy these at Law Gardens, and in the last decade or so, I found that all the handicraft melas would have LOTS of south Indian kalamkari but none from Gujarat, and I was afraid it is extinct.

I am glad it is being continued...Pachedis are absolutely gorgeous.

I wondered if you could tell me if there were a place where they could be purchased still? I would be glad to hear back from you.

Many thanks for keeping knowledge on Gujarati and other native textiles alive and hopefully thriving.