Mata Ni Pachedi is made in a multi-stepped process of mordant dyeing, drying, block printing and hand painting. This blend of techniques gives rise to a fabric brimming with narratives of the goddesses, mythology and epics.

Raw Materials

Cotton - 'Madar Paat' is a grey cotton cloth used in this craft. It is sourced from the Sindhi Market or New Cloth market for around Rs 25-30 per meter. The traditional fabric was handspun but nowadays mill spun cotton is also used.

Mordants - Harda or Myrabellum is a natural herb and the mordant commonly used.

Kachue ka Aata - It is the gum base used in the fabric made using crushed tamarind seeds.Iron scraps, jaggery and different powders like Daru Hardar, Phitkari, Hirakshi etc, Dhavdi flowers, Alizarine.

Fire wood - to make the colours and dyes.

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Waste

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Tools & Technology

Pichhi / Brush - It is a stick cut from the date palms found near the Vasna dam. One end of the Pichhi is chewed to make it soft enough to use as a brush.

Kalam - It is the narrow stick used for the outlines. One end is chipped to make a fine tip.

Tamdi - This is a huge vessel used to process the different dyes. They have a capacity of 45 to 70 kgs. 

Kundi - This is a tray or a rectangular container to store the dye paste while printing. It is sourced from Chippawad. A Jaali or a wireframe of plastic thread is used as a base which lends colour evenly to the wooden blocks when dipped.

Patia - This is a wooden table made to ergonomic requirement by the artists themselves. Saag wood is used since it is long lasting. 

Wooden blocks - These are used for block printings and the artists get their designs made in Pethapur. These blocks are made of Mitti (clay), Seesam or Teak wood. 

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Rituals

The Pachedis are used as a backdrop for Mata in temples four times in a year during Magha - February, Chaitra - April, Arshad - July and Ashvin - October. The artisans worship the wooden blocks on the ninth day of Navratri. The community gathers to worship the goddess in the evening. The 'Bhuvo', the musical storyteller, sings and goes into a trance after intoxicating himself with a locally brewed drink. Music is played as part of the ritual and people sing songs dedicated to the Mata. 'Pooris' are prepared as a part of the offerings to the Mata. A sacrificial goat adorned with bright fabric and garlands is brought inside the temple and fed with sprouted barley before the Bhuvo sacrifices it to the goddess. The Pachedi which was used in the ritual as a part of worship are then stored in an earthen pot to be used next year.

At the time of worship, groups of Devipujak worshippers assemble, hang up the textile painted with images of the goddess and conduct the rituals, consisting of group singing of bhajans, aarti and other puja rituals. One or more Mata-ni-Pachedis are hung up and all the rituals are performed using the Pachedi, the portable shrine, as the focus of attention. At the centre of each Pachedi is a picture of the main goddess and surrounding the central image are the legends of her life. There are 999 avatars of the goddess and so there were 999 variants of the Mata-ni-Pachedis, each narrating a different tale. In the social system of beliefs all over India it is common to take a vow that is associated with the asking of a specific boon or wish. For instance, a young student may take a vow that if she gets admission into medical college, she will perform certain religious rites and abstain from certain foods for a year or embrace a particular new habit. A man may vow that if he gets a son, he will give up smoking. To mark the granting of that boon, there is a worship ritual or Pooja. In the case of the Devipujak community this Puja takes the form of animal sacrifice before the goddess along with an offering of a new Pachedi.

Process

Treating the cloth : The base cotton fabric is soaked in water for a day to remove the starch or kanji. This makes the fabric softer and fully absorbent to the dyes. It is then dried in the sun.

Mordanting : Harda is applied to the fabric to make it easier for the dyes to penentrate.One kilogram of harda is used for every 3 metres. It is mixed in water and the cloth is dipped for about five minutes. Once soaked properly, it is left to dry in the sun.

Block Printing : The wooden blocks are immersed in the tray filled with black colour and dabbed a couple of times for the colour to catch well. It is then stamped onto the fabric stepwise starting from the borders to the base of the core, the Mata and then the decorative elements. The main theme is predefined by the artist before work begins. The animals are mostly hand-drawn since it is not viable to have such huge blocks. Even the negative space left in the Pachedi is painted by hand using a Kalam. The cloth is laid out in the sun to dry again.

Painting and Kalam-kari : Once the fabric dries, the women and children start filling in the colours. The application is done evenly and carefully using the Pichhi. Care has to be taken so that the colours don't bleed and mix with each other. If there are errors, lemon juice is brushed on the specific area till it fades away. This is again left to dry.Washing in the river : The fabric is taken to the Vasna dam to wash away the gum base and excess colour. The alum and ferrous sulphate used in the cloth gets absorbed into the fabric. Two iron rods are fixed into the water parallel to each other. A rope is tied on which the fabrics are hung for fifteen minutes. The fabric is kept at water level so that it does not sink when the current changes. The orientation of the fabric is changed after ten minutes so that the gum is removed from all sides. Coarser the fabric, longer is the duration that it is required to be immersed in water. The fabric is dried under the sun without crumpling or twisting otherwise the colours would mix.

Treating to develop colour : The dry Pachedis are immersed in the Thamdi (vessel) containing water. This is heated using firewood. Dhavdi flowers and Alizarine is added when the water is lukewarm. This is left to boil for almost half an hour. The flowers help retain the white colour while the Alizarine makes the black darker and the pale greens turn red. After the colours intensify, the fabric is immersed in cold water. This process of fixing and developing is repeated if there are more colours to be added.

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