The Dying Art of Cheriyal Paintings

The Dying Art of Cheriyal Paintings

The Cheriyal art of paintings that originated in the city of Warangal in Telengana are letters in the form of scrolls painted in a narrative format. They depict stories from mythology and folklore and perhaps no amount of modern day story telling devices such as Ipods and Ipands or even television can replace them. It is a form of Nakashi art rich in local motifs particular to Telangana, India.

These paintings are painted in vivid hues, using primary colors, mostly with a large share of red in the background. The local artists who created these paintings were not limited by academic constraints that gave rise to more classical forms of painting like Mysore paintings and thus painted with an unbridled sense of imagination. The best part about Cheriyal paintings is that its subjects are easy to relate to and are taken from daily lives of a common man. The narration is mostly spiced with details such as events from rural India like a woman cooking in the kitchen, a farmer ploughing his field, newly­wed bride dancing in the rain etc.

This form of painting is also prevalent in various other parts of India is known by names like Dasvathara in Goa, Pinguli and Patachitra in Orissa and Bengal. However the one main difference between the story telling painting­ art from Orissa and other parts of India have with Warangal’s form of art is that the art from Orissa and other places would only depit mythological gods and kings while the art from Warangal that we are talking about included stories of common men, the cobblers, the fishermen too.

There is a story behind the name Cheriyal too, by the way. The story tells of a story telling community Kaki Podagollu that would travel everywhere in Telangana, singing and narrating stories, while at the same time exhibiting them in a visual format. The community originally belonged to a village in Warangal district of Telangana, India.

In today’s date, Cheriyal paintings are a dying form of art and are known only to a few painters in the Warangal. In case you happen to visit the heritage city of Warangal, put Cheriyal village on go­to list. Also, D. Vaikuntham, who is known as the master of this art has a family there that has continued this tradition since the 15th century.