In Focus: The Dying Cheriyal Art of Warangal

Have you received any love letters in the form of scrolls? You probably had a pretty romantic lover if you did. The Cheriyal paintings peculiar to the city of Warangal in the Telengana region are like those love letters – but with a couple of differences – these painted in a narrative format and depict stories from local mythology and folklore.

The Cheriyal Paintings from Warangal
The Cheriyal Paintings from Warangal

No amount of television serials and comics would ever replace this oldest form of storytelling. In India, there are many forms of scroll paintings such as Dasvathara in Goa, Pinguli and the Chitra Katha in Maharashtra, Patachitra in Orissa and Bengal among others.

Scroll Painting form know as Pinguli from Maharashtra
Scroll Painting form know as Pinguli from Maharashtra

The name Cheriyal comes from a village in Warangal district of Telangana in India. Several hundred years ago, Kaki Podagollu, a story telling community would travel through Telengana,  singing and narrating stories, and depicting them in a visual format.

The Cheriyal Dolls from Warangal PC: Indya4u.com
The Cheriyal Dolls from Warangal PC: Indya4u.com

Unlike the stories from Orissa, Bengal or Goa where the paintings depict mythological characters and gods, the artists from Warangal district paint stories of the lives of different communities such as cobblers, fishermen, farmers as well.

Each Cheriyal Scroll painting is drawn on a khadi cloth and each scroll starts with a panel of Lord Ganesha, followed by Goddess Saraswati. It’s their way of paying their respect to the deities and seeking their blessings.

At present, Cheriyal paintings are a dying form of art – known only to a handful of painters in the Warangal district of Telangana. So if you are planning to visit the heritage city of Warangal, the Cheriyal village must be on your list of places to visit. D. Vaikuntham, whose family has continued this tradition since the 15th century is one of the masters of this art.

Mr Vykuntam with the medal and other Cheriyal paintings
Mr Vykuntam (artist) with the medal and other Cheriyal paintings

 

At Go Heritage Runs, we try to bring out and encourage local crafts through our runs. At our run in the heritage city of Warangal in March 2015, we are promoting the Cheriyal art form by using this craft for the finisher medals. The Go Heritage Run – Warangal commences and ends at Kushmahal inside the Warangal Fort and the routes take you along some of the heritage sites in the city. A shiny medal decorated with the traditional Bathukamma motif in Cheriyal art awaits all finishers! Take a look:

Medal with Bathukamma in Cheriyal Painting, final design will have event name as well
Close up of the medal with Bathukamma in Cheriyal Painting, final design will have event name as well

We have repurposed some of these medals into fridge magnets you can purchase, check here – Cheriyal fridge magnets.

 

Shubhra Rishi

Writer. Editor. Traveler.

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