Picchavai (Temple Hanging)
Pichhavais are cloth paintings produced for display in Vallabhacharya temples. Vallabhacharya (or Pushtimarg) is a school of Hinduism prominent in Northwest India that focuses on the life of Krishna. Vallabhacharya temples are traditionally adorned with painted cloths that hang on the walls and cover the furnishing, each one taking its name from the area or object it covers. The pichhavai (lit. ‘of behind’) is designed specifically to hang on the rear wall behind the image of the idol, and is the most important of the hangings.
This pichhavai depicts the Annakuta Utsava (‘mountain of food’ festival), one of the more important festivals celebrated by members of the Vallabhacharya sect. As illustrated here, offerings of food are placed before Lord Krishna to celebrate his victory over the god of rain, Lord Indra. Krishna is depicted in the form of the seven-year-old god Shri Nathji, with one arm raised in the act of holding up Mount Govardhana to shelter villagers from the heavy rains of Lord Indra. Shri Nathji stands centrally within an architectural framework and is flanked by worshiping priests.
For similar examples see Talwar and Krishna, Pl. 39, No. 33, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Accession Number NGA 93.1137.
Literature: Talwar K. and K. Krishna. Indian Pigment Paintings on Cloth, Volume III, Historic Textiles of India, B.U. Balsari on behalf of Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad, 1979.