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Cheriyal Art: Telangana’s Timeless Tradition

Cheriyal Art

Cheriyal art is a treasure trove of cultural heritage from the heart of Telangana. With its roots dating back several centuries, Cheriyal art has evolved into a unique blend of tradition and innovation. It captivates art enthusiasts worldwide with its vibrant colours, intricate detailing and rich narrative themes. In this exploration, we shall delve into the fascinating world of Cheriyal art. By tracing its origins, techniques, themes and contemporary relevance, we will get in touch with this traditional form of storytelling through paintings.

Origin and Evolution of Cheriyal Art

Image source: IAS Gyan

Cheriyal art gets its name from the village of Cheriyal in Telangana where this art form originated. It is believed to be practised by a community of storytellers known as “Kaki Padagollu” or “Cheriyal scroll painters”. These artisans would travel from village to village, carrying their scrolls, narrating their visual stories of mythology and folklore such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

The art form flourished later, under the patronage of local rulers and noble families. Cheriyal art was adapted differently to suit the changing tastes and preferences of the new audience. Over time, it expanded beyond the scrolls and began to be drawn on walls, murals and wooden figurines. Each painting had a definitive stamp of the style and characteristics of Cheriyal art.

Techniques and Materials used in Cheriyal Art

Image source: MAP Academy

Cheriyal is characterised by its unique and materials used, which have been passed down through several generations of artists. The process typically begins with the preparation of a canvas made from khadi cloth or treated canvas. The intricate designs are sketched using natural dyes and pigments. After the initial process, the artists employ a technique known as ‘nakkash,’ wherein the outlines of the figures are drawn using a fine brush or stylus. 

This is followed by the application of vibrant colours derived from natural sources such as vegetables, minerals and plant extracts. One of the defining features of Cheriyal art is its use of bold, exaggerated forms and vivid colour schemes. The colour patterns and motifs fill the paintings with a sense of dynamism. The artists employ a wide range of motifs and symbols drawn from mythology, folklore and everyday life, each carrying its own symbolic significance. 

Themes and Symbolism in Cheriyal Art Motifs

Image source: Six Yards Plus

Cheriyal art encompasses a diverse range of themes which reflect the cultural, social and religious condition of the region. Mythological narratives form the foundation of Cheriyal storytelling, with tales of gods, goddesses and mythical beings depicted in vivid detail. The Ramayana and Mahabharata, in particular, feature prominently in Cheriyal art. Iconic characters such as lord Ram, goddess Sita, Krishna, and Arjuna are brought to life through the artist’s brush.

In addition to mythological themes, Cheriyal art also explores everyday life, capturing scenes from rural existence, folk traditions and rituals. Village festivals, agricultural practices and tribal customs are often depicted with warmth and humour. 

Symbolism plays a crucial role in Cheriyal art. Animals, birds and mythical creatures have symbolic meanings, representing virtues such as courage, wisdom and fertility. Similarly, geometric patterns and floral motifs convey aesthetic beauty and spiritual harmony, adding depth and complexity to the visual narrative. 

Cheriyal Art: Its Contemporary Relevance

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In today’s world, contemporary Cheriyal artists are experimenting with new techniques and materials. They believe in blending traditional craftsmanship with modern innovations to create dynamic works of art. Cheriyal art is no longer confined to scrolls and murals but has found its way into diverse mediums such as textiles, ceramics and digital media, demonstrating its adaptability and resilience in the face of changing times. 

Additionally, initiatives such as workshops, exhibitions and cultural festivals are providing platforms for Cheriyal artists to showcase their talent. It offers them a safe place to connect with art enthusiasts from around the world. These efforts not only ensure the preservation of Cheriyal art for future generations but also contribute to the socio-economic empowerment of the artisans and their communities. 

Several museums and exhibitions display Cheriyal art in their galleries, both in India and internationally. The National Museum in New Delhi houses a diverse collection of Indian art, including Cheriyal paintings. They are often featured in special exhibitions highlighting the cultural heritage of different regions of India. The Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad is renowned for its extensive collection of art and artefacts from India and around the world. Cheriyal paintings are among the many treasures on display, offering visitors a glimpse into the artistic traditions of Telangana.

Image source: 30 Stades

Taking everything into consideration… 

Cheriyal art stands as a shining example of India’s rich cultural heritage. It embodies centuries of tradition, craftsmanship and storytelling prowess. It is characterised by vibrant colours, intricate designs and timeless narratives, Cheriyal art continues to captivate hearts and minds, serving as a testament to the enduring power of creativity and imagination. As we celebrate the legacy of Cheriyal art, let us also pledge to support and cherish this precious cultural treasure for generations to come. 

To learn more about art forms and their contemporary relevance, download the Rooftop app from Google Play or App Store to stay updated on our upcoming art events and workshops. Stay tuned to rooftop blogs and follow us on @rooftop_app

By Freya Bulsara

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