Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll Paintings

Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll Paintings

Ancient Audio Visual Art, Chrerial (Cheriyal). Warangal, Andhra Pradesh

See also: FAM (familiarization) tour of Hyderabad and Warangal

As our car meandered through the winding roads of Cherial (Cheriyal) village, it was a total disappointment. I expected houses with intricately painted scroll hanging from the walls, something which I have seen in Raghurajpur (Orissa) and Naya (West Bengal). But Cherial (Cheriyal), which is located in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh and is 100 km from Hyderabad, looks like any other Indian village.

Cherial Scroll Painting, Cherial, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh

Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll Painting, Cherial, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh

We made our way past playing children, to the studio of famous Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll Painter, D. Vaikuntham. Its just an ordinary house but a board outside said that it belonged to a National Award Winner.

Cherial Scroll Paintings

Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll Paintings

His small studio looked haphazard, as it normally does. The artist himself was working on an inclined wooden desk.

From the walls hung scroll of all sizes, with their intricate artwork with bright shades of paints.

D. Vaikuntam, who spoke fluent English, explained that Cherial (Cheriyal)scroll painting is a dying art and is practiced only by a handful of families.

His brother D. Nageshwar, a state award winner, also practices the same trade and has his studio next door.

Cherial Scroll Paintings

Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll Paintings

Scroll painting is one of the earliest forms of audio – visual   entertainment. Hundreds of year ago, the story telling community of Kaki Podagollu used to travel through the villages of Telengana,  singing and narrating stories using the scroll as their visual aid.

The scroll measures about 3 feet in width and can extend over 40 feet. The scrolls contain about 40 to 50 panels, each depicting a part of the story and would be displayed as the story unfolds.

The story, which is in the form of songs, is often accompanied by dolls which makes it a total audio – visual package.

The scroll painting of Rajasthan, Orissa and West Bengal focus mainly on religious aspects and mythology, this is where the artist from Cherial (Cheriyal) differ.

Their work is mainly focused on community specific storyline. In Cherial (Cheriyal), the painters as well as the narrators, focus on day to day lives of communities like fishermen, toddy tappers, cobblers, fruit gatherers, etc.

Cherial Painting, the first strokes

Cherial (Cheriyal) Painting, the first strokes

The scrolls also depicts the legends and mythologies of the communities along with their Gods and heroes.

Irrespective of the community or profession, each Cherial (Cheriyal) scroll starts with a panel of Ganapati, the God of wealth, followed by Sarswati, the Goddess of learning.

It is customary for the artist to seek blessing of the deities, in order to ensure that the art flourishes without any obstacle.

The Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll painting is drawn on hand made khadi cloth specially processed with applying a paste of tamarind seed along with a tree gum and white clay.

Cherial Painting, final touches

Cherial (Cheriyal) Painting, final touches

Three coats of the paste are applied, allowing a day in between for the paste to dry.

Once the scroll is ready, the artist draws the outline, using a squirrel haired brush, in a phased manner.

The colours used in the Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll Painting follows a predetermined system. The striking red colour fills the background.

The colour of the face and skin is decided by the nature of the character, like blue and yellow are for Gods and Goddesses respectively. Brown or darker shades are for demons, while pink and skin tones are for humans.

Cherial Dolls

Cherial (Cheriyal) Dolls

In the past, natural dyes were used. White was obtained from grounded sea shells, black from lamp soot, yellow from turmeric, blue from indigo and the others from various vegetable dyes and grounded stones.

Today the natural dyes have largely been replaced by commercial organic water colours, which are mixed with tree gums, before being applied on the scroll.

The water coloured based Cherial (Cheriyal) Scrolls are said to last over 300 years, provided they don’t come in contact with water.

Cherial Mask

Cherial (Cheriyal) Mask

Apart from the Scrolls, the Cherial (Cheriyal) artists also make dolls and masks. The smaller masks are made of coconut shell while the larger ones are made out of sawdust and tamarind seed paste.

The Cherial (Cheriyal) dolls are made of a light wood called tella puniki and is smeared with saw dust and tamarind seed paste.

Like the scroll, both the dolls and masks have bright colours.

Today the Cherial (Cheriyal) Scroll painting art still flourishes but with the advent of other forms of audio – visual entertainment and with the dwindling numbers of story tellers and balladeers, the Cherial artist are forced to modify their art form.

The long elongated scrolls are made smaller to fit in the walls of modern day drawing rooms and masks and dolls are customised into drawing room artifacts.

Cherial Key Ring

Cherial (Cheriyal) Key Ring

Cherial (Cheriyal) paintings have made their way on gift boxes, pen and candle stands and even on textiles, also Cherial (Cheriyal) dolls have been transformed into decorative key chains.

It is a great wonder that the art of Cherial (Cheriyal) scroll painting is alive, despite of the numerous challenges.

The passion of the Cherial (Cheriyal) artists have helped to preserve a valuable piece in India’s rich cultural mosaic.

Orientation:

Cherial (Cheriyal) has no places to stay. Its best to travel from Hyderabad (100 km away).

Hotel Haritha Plaza, Hyderabad (Ph: 040 4949 5959, M: 0 95538 33319) offers excellent lodging and fooding in Hyderabad.

Special Thanks:

This trip was part of a FAM (familirazation) tour of Hyderabad and Warangal conducted by Andhra Paradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). Special thanks to:

  • Kalyani, Consultant Sales and Marketing, APTDC
  • Dr. P. Jogi Naidu, Dy. Director (Retd.), Archeology and Museums, AP
  • Kiran Mehata and Sunil Vidayanatahn my fellow FAM tour participant
  • Surekha Adimulam and her Tharuni team
  • Santosh our driver
  • Haritah Hotels
  • All the staff of APTDC

  1. January 15, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    Wow, how fascinating. I want to compliment your storytelling abilities. Your writing style is astounding.
    And it’s always interesting to me, to read about the process and history of certain art forms. Well done. I look forward to reading more.
    Take care.

    • February 13, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Thanks Crystal for your inspiring comment.

      Comments like these helps to keep the passion burning.

  2. January 31, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    so much about this less known form of art. Great pics!

    • February 13, 2014 at 11:25 PM

      Indrani, you deserve something more than thanks for your constant comments and inspiration.

  3. February 1, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    Reminds me of the Patta Chitra of Odisha. But, then AP is the neighbouring state!🙂

  4. February 13, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    Thanks Anita for the comment, you are right even West Bengal has few Patta Chitra form.

  5. March 5, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Hi! Chanced upon your blog – really happy to see more people going to the village. We at Happy Hands Foundation had hosted D.Padma (Nageshwar’s wife) as part of our artisan residency series – in which she innovated on cheriyal mask keychains (which I see you have a pic of), Mask Penstands, and more. Really happy to see people appreciating!🙂

    • March 6, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      Dear Medhavi Gandhi, I visited Cherial village during a FAM (familirazation) tour of Hyderabad and Warangal conducted by APTDC. I also meet D. Padma.

      Thanks for the comment and all the best to Happy Hands Foundation and hope they keep promoting the unknown artisans of India.

  6. bhavani
    March 6, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Feeling proud to be born in historical place like warangal and yes, I knew very little about cheriyal paintings…..my bad!!!! Thanks a lot for the wonderful and elaborated explanation about the cheriyal paintings, keep up the good work :-))

    • March 6, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      Dear Bhavani it is a pleasure to receive a comment from a person born in Warangal.

  7. Srikanth Adepu
    September 15, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    Hi Rangan Datta, We are very much interested in ethnic paintings!! loved to check cheryal paintings, please let me know the cost of paintings, we are looking for one of 6*4 size.

    • November 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      Dear Srikant, I am not sure of the cost.

    • July 9, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      Hi Rangan Datta,This is M.Madhu cherial scroll painting artist.i will stay at hyderabad.
      if you want any information about cherial painting you can contact me 09848581044,08341502629.

    • July 9, 2015 at 11:46 AM

      Thanks Merugoju Madhu, nice to receive a comment from a Cherial artist. I am from Kolkata, I will get back to you, when I visit Hyderabad. Thanks once more.

      • merugoju madhu
        July 18, 2015 at 4:33 PM

        Thanks a lot I will be waiting for ur visit

    • merugoju madhu
      July 18, 2015 at 4:46 PM

      Hi srikanth adept
      This is madhu cherial painting artist
      If you want any information about cherial painting you can contact me on 09848581044,08341502629.

  8. Deeksha Sharma
    January 22, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    Hi Rangan, Great work🙂

    I work for an online art gallery called WallsnArt. We are working on a project in Hyderabad and are looking for cheriyal painting artists. If you could help us in getting few that would be great.
    Contact details are: 09953503546, 09871030114

    • January 29, 2016 at 8:17 PM

      I have shared your contact with the concerned person, she will get back to you soon. Please do keep me updated about the development.

  9. katina
    November 18, 2016 at 5:46 PM

    dear mr rangan datta,
    i searched more about cheriyal scrolls for a project back at school. In the beginning i hae to admit i was not in the least interested in it. But after reading your article, my interest grew and i started to search more about cheriyal scrolls. i even searched for information that was not required in my project.So thank you for writing this beautiful article. Not only did you help me complete my project you also opened my eyes to a whole new world of art.
    katina.

    • November 18, 2016 at 8:42 PM

      Dear Katina, it is great to know that my blog post on Cherial Scroll Painting helped you, for your school project.

      Do keep working on the Cherial artists, they need more recognition.

      Are you from Hyderabad?? which school do you study??

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