About the Book
The wall paintings of Gujarat, a form of representative art that traces its origins back to the seventeenth century, are vibrant depictions of the culture of the land and the times in all its manifestations. The author's extensive travels through the small towns, villages and cities of north and central Gujarat have helped him build a collection as comprehensive as it is varied and particular. In collaboration with Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya, the Bhopal- based museum of mankind, the author has created a pictorial record of an art form that is now almost completely extinct.
The range of these paintings is truly awe-inspiring. They not only portray various mythological situations and instances from local folk tales but even daily chores and sometimes just images from nature. This range, which makes it a truly representative art form, betrays its popularity and relevance in its time. Culled from temples, mansions, havelis and houses, these paintings are artefacts of great socio-historical importance. They are an integral part of the nation's artistic and cultural heritage.
About the Author
Pradip Zaveri, with vast experience ill the polyethylene processing industry, has always been interested in vanous art forms, especially Indian paintings. His passion for travelling and photography helped him travel to the interiors of Rajasthan where wall paintings are found in abundance. So, when he observed wall paintings in Kachchh (Gujarat), his native place, he started photo documenting them. The first photography exhibition was held at Kutch museum. Indira Gandhi Manav 5angrahalaya, the Bhopal-based museum of mankind, appreciated his work and sponsored many exhibitions and workshops to help create awareness about the now-extinct art of wall paintings. The Kutch museum at Bhuj also sponsored the cause through exhibitions and seminars. Udaipur-based West Zone Cultural Centre sponsored his seminal documentation of the damage done to wall paintings in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake in Kachchh. This publication inspired Zaveri to explore and document wall paintings in other regions including north and central Gujarat. His work will go a long way in preserving this three-century-old heritage of wall paintings through archives as well as publications.
Gujarat with its rich heritage of arts and crafts is well known throughout the world. But one of its least known arts is depiction on the walls. These wall paintings are found in many districts of the state and are almost three centuries old and were patronised by rulers, the rich, and the commoners. This glorious tradition is now on the verge of extinction.
Since my childhood I was interested in Indian miniature paintings. During my many visits to Rajasthan I came across wall paintings at many places in Udaipur and Narhdwara, which were rendered under the influence of miniature paintings. I was highly influenced by them. So, around the year 1993, during a visit to my native place in Kachchh, I observed wall paintings in many villages and started photo-documenting them. This work was recognised first by Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya of Bhopal and subsequently by West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur. In due process I started organising workshops and photo exhibitions at various places on Kachchh Kamangari wall paintings. Some of the prime destinations were Bhuj (2003) and Bhopal (2006). Year 2010 saw these paintings as a collection catalogue in the form of a published book by West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur. In between this period a few more photo exhibitions were arranged at different venues to create awareness about this now extinct heritage of Kachchh. An e-book in Gujarati on Kachchhi Kamangari paintings was also published in January 2013 by Global Bhatia Foundation, Mumbai, to create awareness among art lovers about this lost heritage. Inspired by these recognitions, my interest in and quest for wall paintings took me to various locations in many districts of Gujarat, to photo-document them. They can be found even today albeit mostly in a neglected and dilapidated state. Apart from Kachchh and the districts in north and central Gujarat, wall paintings are still found depicted in Gohilwad (present Bhavnagar), Sihor, Vallabhipur and Amreli areas, as well as in Halaar presently known as Jamnagar district.
In spite of the period of upheaval in the late eighteenth century, which lasted upto the late nineteenth century, the creation of wall paintings flourished due to the support of the people and, to some extent, the encouragement by the patrons of Swaminarayan philosophy in the Kheda district. The rulers of Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Baroda states also encouraged this activity and many of the temples were built during their reign and are found adorned with wall paintings based on religious themes.
These paintings are also found in houses, havelis and temples of many districts of the state and are based on themes taken from the myths and legends, such as the incarnations of Vishnu, Krishnaleela, Darbar scenes, hunts, romantic escapades, like those of Laila-Majnu and Dhola-Maru, daily chores, as well as animals, birds and flowers of a purely decorative nature. These paintings are influenced by Maratha kalam (style of painting) and also by the advent of foreigners in the region during that period.
The compilation of my visual expressions in the form of this collection is the culmination of my humble effort to present one of the most important but neglected heritages of Gujarat to art lovers. In my efforts I was guided by the previous work of scholars and researchers, for which I remain grateful. I am indebted to Dilipbhai Vaidya, Satish Sadasivan, both former curators of the Kachchh Museum and Prof Adhya B. Saxena, Head of the Department of History, M.S. University, Vadodara for their valuable suggestions and guidance. I am also grateful to Kanubhai Patel for allowing me to reproduce some photographs of wall paintings from his Charotar region collection. I am thankful to Pawan Shukla from the Department of Geography, MS University for constructing a map of Gujarat identifying sites where these paintings are situated. The collection of these murals would not have been possible without the support of the residents of the havelis and mahants (priests) of the temples I visited for documentation.
Special thanks to the director and all concerned at IGRMS Bhopal for supporting me in this endeavour.
It would hardly be fair to sum up this note without appreciating my friends and family members for their suggestions and their support, without which this collection on murals of Gujarat would not have been a reality.
As a valuable source of socio-economic and cultural history, these wall paintings can complement the information that the historian gathers from literature and archival records of the period. These paintings also complement other forms of art like iconography, local traditions, folk poetry and prose. Wall paintings in the present collection amply bear the fact.
Chapter 1 A Pictorial Journey
Painting Tradition and Interpretations
Importance of Wall Paintings
Gujarat: A Visual Perspective
Wall Paintings as Folk Paintings
Development of Wall Paintings in Gujarat
Areas in Gujarat where Wall Paintings are Found
Depiction of Wall Paintings in Gujarat
Maratha Influence on Wall Paintings of Gujarat
Decline of the Art of Wall Paintings in Gujarat
Technique and Process of Making Wall Paintings
Technique of Narration of Wall Paintings
Chapter 2 Collection of Photographs of Wall Paintings
Wall Paintings of Rughnath Temple, Patan City
Wall Paintings of Baijnath Mahadev Temple, Vasan Village
Wall Paintings of Kheda District
Wall Paintings of Swaminarayan Temple, Vadtal Village
Wall Paintings of Bochasan and Rudel Villages
Wall Paintings of Kathol Village
Wall Paintings of Bhadarwa Village
Wall Paintings of Rusheshwar Mahadev Temple, Bhadarwa Village
Wall Paintings of Rudra Mahadev Temple, Sarsa Village
Wall Paintings of Kashivishwanath Mahadev Temple Chanod Village
Wall Paintings of Sarveshwar Mahadev Temple, Bhilapur Village
Wall Paintings of Dhumeshwar Mahadev Temple, Bhilapur Village
Wall Paintings of Hanfeshwar Mahadev Temple, Narmada District
Wall Paintings of Tambekar Wada, Vadodara City
Wall Paintings of Kamnath Mahadev Temple, Vadodara City
Wall Paintings of Khandoba Temple, Vadodara City
Wall Paintings of Mairal Ganapati Temple and Fadnis No Wado, Vadodara City
Wall Paintings of Gajera Village
Wall Paintings of Swaminarayan Temple, Bharuch City
Wall Paintings of Sihor Darbargadh, Bhavnagar District
Glossary of Mythological References
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