Mata, Shakti, Devi – These names evoke vivid images from mythology. The Chitara families of the wandering Waghris tribe of Gujarat visualize Goddess’s many manifestations as hand-painted or block-printed images on textiles, surrounded by stories from myths, epics and folk traditions. ‘Mata-ni-Pachedi’ translates literally to ‘that which enshrines the Goddess’.
The historical evidence of this craft goes back almost three hundred years. The shrine cloth always has a central image of ‘Mata’ – the mother goddess in her fearsome aspect – sitting on her throne or an animal, brandishing in her hands the weapons needed to kill demons. Traditionally, only maroon and black colors were used with the surface of the material as the third colour. Maroon was associated with Mother Earth and believed to possess healing powers. White was the colour of purity and black was meant to repel malevolent spirits. Later, other colors were added to the palette.
Today, only five families are left practising this craft and take more than a month to complete one pachedi. Theseportable shrines are used as decorative wall pieces and usually get sold around the time of Navaratras, preserving thetradition of worship through art.
– by Aarti Jesrani
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