Devnarayan ki Phad

c. 20th century

‘Phad’ is a traditional scroll painting unique to the region of Bhilwara, Rajasthan. For many nomadic communities like the Rebari, Phad is a medium to worship their local deities ‘Devnarayan’ and ‘Pabuji’.

It is believed that a thousand years ago, Devnarayan and Pabuji were kings of small villages whose stories later morphed into legends. Devnarayan is an incarnation of Vishnu, and his Phad depicts a complex tale of his ancestors and his. The story carries notions of honour, valour, love and duty, much like other more renowned epics like the Ramayana.

The first ever Phad painting was made by the Joshi community when they received a commission from a devotee of Devnarayan. Today, they make it at the request of the Bhopos or singer-priests. The Bhopo roam through villages with the phad, and as the sun goes down, they open their scroll out for a night-long performance called Phad Vanco. The performance of the epic is for nomadic communities like Rebari, Gurjar, Jat and others in Rajasthan.

Devnarayan ki Phad
c. 20th century
Unidentified artist
Natural pigment (Gouache) on course cotton cloth
H: 137.3 cm x W: 574 cm
Accession No.