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Ethnic contemporary with pichwai

Prashant and Shweta Garg’s tryst with translating the temple art of pichwai paintings on saris began as an experiment in late 2015 and early 2016. Their first such collection had 15-20 saris. A little unsure of how it would be received, they showcased their work at an exhibition in Delhi. Their saris found influential takers — designers Ritu Kumar and Abha Dalmia, hotelier Priya Paul to name a few. Until then, the couple had been trying to do something different with textiles to meet with mixed results. A few collections worked while others didn’t. At the recently-concluded Aakruthi Vastra hosted by the Crafts Council, the saris displayed by the couple drew attention.

Discussing their label Pratham, Prashant Garg admits that it has been a chequered journey from 2011 to 2015 before they found their niche. Both Prashant and Shweta aren’t trained in textile and design. “But there was a creative streak since school that I hadn’t paid much thought to. Coming from a family that’s into iron business, it was natural for me to do an MBA,” says Prashant. After his wedding, he noticed how his wife had the knack of picking up exclusive saris: “I had known only of the retail sector where you pick up clothes from a store. Here she was selecting unique saris.” His business instinct was stoked.

Pichwai tradition
  • There are several stories about the birth of pichwai (also called pichvai) paintings and how it has its roots in Nathdwara, Rajasthan. The paintings narrate episodes from the life of lord Krishna; the cow, peacock and lotus are recurring motifs. These paintings are used as backdrops of idols in temples.

The couple began learning the basics in 2004, sought the help of kaarigars and focused on embroideries. Until 2011, they designed only for family members. Their first exhibition was in 2011, when they decided to test their designs on a wider audience. “It failed,” says Prashant.

The duo took a fresh look at textiles in 2013 and were gradually drawn to handlooms and pichwai paintings. They felt the unique combination hadn’t been explored enough, barring occasional ensembles by a few designers. Pichwai-inspired motifs came to be the mainstay of their Pratham. A few motifs were digitally printed on linen saris, a few were handpainted and slowly, some were woven. “Initially there was resistance from weavers to try these motifs. It took three months on the loom to bring out the first few Paithani saris and it was worth the effort,” says Prashant.

Ethnic contemporary with pichwai

Pratham liaises with weavers from Bengal for jamdani, Yeola in Nashik for Paithani and block printers of Bhuj for ajrakh. Their recent exhibition in Hyderabad has opened up possibilities of combining pichwai motifs on kalamkari and kantha saris. The label has also extended its pichwai-inspired designs to jewellery — earrings, rings, neckpieces and more.

(For more, check Pratham’s Facebook page or

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 11:13:41 PM |

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