Mata-ni-Pachedi is a traditional art of painting the image of goddesses on a piece of cloth found in the temple which is of a multicolored animated images of gods and goddesses, devotees, followers, flora and fauna with a narrative story. The term Mata-ni-Pachedi originated from Gujarati language, where Mata means ‘goddess’, ni means ‘belongs to’ and Pachedi means ‘behind’ When people of the nomadic Vaghari community of Gujarat were barred from entering temples, they made their own shrines with depictions of the Mother Goddess of different forms on to the cloth. The unique feature of this temple-hanging is the product layout of four to five pieces of Mata-ni-Pachedi erected to form a shrine for the Mother Goddess. Traditional Mata ni Pachedi is a rectangular piece of fabric used as a canopy in the place of ceiling in a nomadic shrine which houses the main mother goddess image at its center.
In a great battle between Shiva and the asura (demon), Raktabija, every drop of the asura’s blood that fell to the earth, gave rise to more and more demons. The gods then turned to Shakti, the goddess Durga, to annihilate the asuras. The fierce goddess pierced the demon’s body and drank all his blood, thus saving both the worlds. The goddess in her seven forms is now worshipped during the nine days of Navaratri festival.
Traditionally, red is the main colour of the paintings, the sacred red that punctuates every auspicious occasion in the life of a Hindu. White and black form the backdrop for the brilliant red. Using just these three colours, the imaginative artists depict entire stories laden with numerous characters and motifs.
The painting usually has a set pattern, with the mother Goddess dominating the central area in her mighty form, surrounded by deities and commoners worshipping her with equal reverence.
Mata ni Pachedi is also known as the “Kalamkari of Gujarat”, owing to its similarity of the Kalamkari practiced in Southern India and the use of pens(kalam) fashioned out of bamboo sticks, for painting. To quicken the process and meet demands of villagers, who would commission paintings to offer to the mother goddess on fulfillment of wishes, the painters started using mud blocks for printing. These blocks were large and coarse, and after using a few times, would be thrown in the river where they returned to the soil. Over the course of time, wooden blocks replaced mud blocks, facilitating the use of finer motifs. Yet, the craftsmen still often make the entire painting with the bamboo “kalam”, using blocks only for printing the borders.