In India, there is a long history of storytelling in different communities. Cheriyal is one of these traditions that tell stories from religious texts and rural life. It is still being practised in Telangana’s Cheriyal village.
It is a serene village that resonates with the artistic endeavours of its skilled craftsmen. The area is curiously often categorized inaccurately as the art village of Cheriyal in Hyderabad. It is located around 100 kilometres from the city.
Cheriyal has become famous for its unique style of masks and paintings that have been in practice for over 400 years. It offers a glimpse into the rich heritage of Telangana and India through art tourism. The colours and details depict mythological stories and daily life events. They are a visual treat for art lovers and tourists alike.
Art and tourism often go hand in hand, with art being a popular tourist attraction. One example is the Cheriyal village. It is known for its unique scroll paintings created by artists called Nakashis. Once prized as the art village of Cheriyal in Hyderabad princely state, it is located in Janagoan Division, about 85 kilometres from the Warangal district in Telangana. The Nakashis have been recognized for their skilful artistry for over 400 years, by rulers such as the Kakatiyas and Nizams.
The History of Cheriyal Scroll Paintings
The traditions surrounding Cheriyal scroll paintings have contributed massively to our cultural memory. Hence, it is an art form that has garnered much fame, and rightfully so. People have been making these paintings for a very long time, creating both art and tourism. Some think they began in the 5th century, while others believe they were brought by the Mughals in the 16th century. The word ‘Nakashi’ comes from Urdu and was used during the Nizami period. However, in the 1980s, the art was renamed after the village where it was first created.
Cheriyal village in Telangana is where this art form started. It was influenced by Kalamkari, Deccani scroll paintings, and 12th-century Kakatiya paintings. The influence of Vijayanagara painting can be seen in Lepakshi’s wall paintings. Later on, the style was influenced by the Nayak styles of painting from South India. Further, temples have had a big impact on this style of art. This can be seen in Mahbubnagar’s Pillalamarri temple and Tripurantaka’s hill temple.
The earliest found scroll was made in 1625 and has a lot in common with the Vijayanagara style seen in Lepakshi’s wall painting. It tells the story of Markandaya and Bhavana Rishi. This scroll and others made around 1775 and 1900, as popular among art tourism examples, are now in a museum in Hyderabad. Some of these paintings have writing in Telugu that tells us when they were made and who owned them.
Techniques Used by the Nakashis
Cheriyal village’s art is known for its vibrant colours. They come from natural sources like sea shells, tamarind seeds, and stones. Nakashis prepare their canvas using khadi fabric. It is then treated with sawdust, tamarind-seed paste, rice starch, white mud, and tree gum. Once the canvas is dry, it is primed and ready for painting.
Cheriyal artists use scrolls that are 3 feet wide and up to 30 to 60 feet long to create their paintings. They work closely with storytellers to turn stories into vivid paintings on these scrolls. The scroll’s length depends on whether the artist is painting a part of a story or the whole tale.
The Present Condition of Cheriyal Art
Nakashis have always adapted to changes around them. This makes their art relevant to understanding today’s social and political circumstances. Like art tourism, Cheriyal village’s art has changed with the times.
In the last 30 years, there have been changes in the paintings for different reasons. The culture has become more homogenous with Ram and Krishna being some of the main deities. This is reflected in the paintings. The format of the painting has also changed. They used to be scrolls used in night performances in villages. These days they are displayed on the walls of museums and homes. Rooftop offers Cheriyal art workshops and has even scheduled an art course on the style. Through these activities, you can learn about this ancient art form.
In the past, long scrolls were used to tell entire stories, but now shorter events or characters are depicted on smaller paintings. Houses have also become smaller, so the paintings have had to shrink in size as well. The colours used to be made from natural materials, but now synthetic watercolours are used instead. Despite these changes, this ancient art form continues to inspire people around the world.
This ancient art has been updated over time. Yet, the essence remains. Cheriyal has inspired many different forms and styles around the world. The skilful Nakashis have practised this art for over 400 years. Their vibrant and intricate paintings have become popular choices among art tourism examples. Cheriyal is not only visually stunning, but it also has a fascinating history and culture. They have evolved with the times and adapted to changes around them. This makes them relevant even in today’s social and political circumstances. Cheriyal village is a cultural gem. Visiting it allows one to appreciate the significance of this unique art.