Cheriyal Painting

Cheriyal Painting


Etymology: ‘Nakashi’ is an Urdu word from the Nizam period, it was called ‘naqash,‘ which meant to draw or sketch what the king asked the artists to draw. But,  in the 1980s, the government titled the art ‘Cheriyal Scroll Painting’ after the village where it originated.

Origin: The storytellers of the Cheriyal community in Cheriyal village in Telangana practised this 800-year tradition of storytelling, which was formerly known as Nakashi art.  In the Telugu literature of the 10th century, there are mentions of such storytellers who were present.

Location:  Cheriyal, a small town in Telangana (previously in Andhra Pradesh) around 100 kilometres from Hyderabad, is one of the few villages in India where this art is practised.

Relevance:  Cheriyal Paintings are heavily influenced by temple art traditions.  The scrolls served as a backdrop to the oral traditions of common people in the past.  Scenes from Indian mythical epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana were depicted in Cheriyal paintings. Every village had its unique characteristics, favourite heroes and heroines, and a collection of tales based on regional myths.


Significance: It is a folk tradition of the Cheriyal village. It is created in a narrative style used by traditional folk singers to visually depict the narrative stories. The architectural bodies and their caste lineage that divide the various panels in the painting are important factors of cheriyal art.

Culture and Societies: The community of traditional artists, or naqash, creates  storytelling groups, who then use the visuals they have created to tell tales reliant on the particular patron jati (caste) to which they relate their jati Purana (etiological myths).

Religious significance: The artists offer prayers to Nimishamba, who is considered a very powerful Goddess who can instantly vanquish the worries of her devotees. With a ceremony that involves breaking open a coconut, scrolls are welcomed/brought home. A priest is also called to bless the scroll.

Understanding the Art

Style: The daily activities of communities like fisherman, toddy tappers, cobblers, fruit gatherers, etc. are highlighted by both the paintings and the narrators to depict their stories to the common people.

Central motifs: The background of the paintings was painted in a rich red tone to highlight the figures. And other motifs such as architectural elements, environment, fauna, flora, birds, and rituals are drawn to portray the lives of common people.

Cheriyal Painting

Image Courtesy:

New Outlook

Cheriyal artists have expanded their art beyond scroll paintings to meet modern demand. The Dhanalakota family, can be regarded as carrying the art form’s spark and practising its traditions for more than four generations