All you need to know about Cheriyal Scroll Painting

Cheriyal Scroll Painting is a modified version of Nakashi art. Cheriyal Scroll Painting is rich in the local motifs peculiar to the Telangana. The art name is derived from the name of the village Cheriyal in Siddipet district, Telangana. Cheriyal village is present at an hour’s drive from Hyderabad. In the village, the famous Cheriyal Scrolls are sold.

Significance of Cheriyal Scroll Painting

The canvas scrolls used to make the art are made from Khadi and are hand-painted in a style unique to the local motifs and iconography. The art is usually characterized by a dominance of the color red in the background. These traditional paintings even received Geographical Indication Status in the year 2007.

The paintings are usually a narrative like comic strips from the past, depicting scenes and stories from Indian mythology and epics. Cheriyal Scroll Painting art is so unique in style and remembers us of the age-old Indian traditions and customs in a beautiful and engaging manner.

Cheriyal Scroll Painting

Nowadays, there aren’t many artists, who still practice this dying art form. D. Vaikuntham, one of the masters of this art whose family has continued this tradition since the 15th century. In the Cheriyal village, there are exactly three artist families who still pursue this traditional occupation of the region.

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Once upon a time, Cheriyal Scrolls were sociologically and culturally significant because they were used as a tool for educating the illiterate villagers. In the olden days, Cheriyal Scrolls had up to 50 panels. Presently, they have now come down to a single panel, as these artists adapt to its modern use as wall art.

Apart from the Cherial scrolls, masks and dolls are modeled along the same theme of ancient Indian mythology and local folklore in the present times. These masks range from the ones sculpted and painted on coconut shells to as large as the ones molded in cement.

Process of Cheriyal Scroll Paintings

Preparation of the canvas for Cheriyal paintings involves a big task. 

A mixture of mud or ‘suddha mati‘, starch obtained from rice, gum water and a paste of boiled tamarind seeds is prepared. Then, Khadi cotton is dipped in it thoroughly. Multiple layers of painting is required to form the art. However, the painters must ensure that each coating should be dried properly before the application of the next coating. 

Finally, the outline is sketched over the surface of the canvas using a painting brush. These outlines  depict the skilled craftsmanship of the Cheriyal Scroll painters. Natural colors are used by the painters to paint the canvas. In the olden days, the brushes were made of stick, tied to the hair of squirrels. And, the Cheriyal masks are manufactured with the coconut shells and Cheriyal dolls are composed of tamarind paste, wood and saw dust. 

Characteristics of Cheriyal Scroll Paintings

Several hundred years ago, Kaki Podagollu, a storytelling community travelled through Telengana, singing and narrating stories in a visual format. Cheriyal Scroll Paintings are extremely beautiful, and the art is made of red is the main predominant hue painted in the background. One can easily relate and understand the art as they use popular themes, obtained from traditional folklore, mythology and literary accounts. Some of the important themes of the paintings are Markandeya Purana, Shiva Purana, Mahabharata, Krishna Lekha, Ramayana and tales of communities like Madiga and Gauda. 

The Cheriyal Scroll Paintings often expresses simple rural lifestyle by depicting rural festive events, womenfolk engaged in working in paddy fields and also in domestic chores. Moreover, the garments and attires depicted in the paintings showcases the regional costumes of the inhabitants of Andhra Pradesh, as it is here it is originated.

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