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Cheriyal Painting


Etymology: ‘Nakashi’ is an Urdu word that originated during the Nizam period. It was called ‘naqash,’ which referred to the act of drawing or sketching whatever the king requested from the artists. However, in the 1980s, the government renamed this art to ‘Cheriyal Scroll Painting’ after the village where it originated.

Origin: The storytellers of the Cheriyal community, residing in Cheriyal village in Telangana, have practiced this tradition of storytelling for over 800 years. In Telugu literature dating back to the 10th century, there are mentions of such storytellers.

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: This folk tradition of the Cheriyal village 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 aspects 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, a powerful Goddess believed to instantly alleviate the worries of her devotees. A ceremony involving the breaking of a coconut is performed to welcome the scrolls into the home, and a priest is called to bless the scrolls.

Understanding the Art

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

Central motifs: The background of the paintings is adorned with a rich red tone to accentuate the figures. Additionally, various motifs, including architectural elements, environments, fauna, flora, birds, and rituals, are skillfully depicted 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 now.

Cheriyal blogs