A brush with Cheriyal

Updated: 20 November, 2020 10:07 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

Delve into the history of the traditional artform of scroll painting from Telangana, and learn a few strokes from award-winning artist Rakesh D Nakash at an online workshop this week

Cheriyal artist Rakesh D Nakash
Cheriyal artist Rakesh D Nakash

Back in 13th century Telangana, Cheriyal scroll painting was an integral form of audio-visual entertainment, bringing to life stories of local gods, and chapters of the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas and community lore. Cheriyal painter Rakesh D Nakash tells us, "Storytellers would take these scrolls to villages, and sing and narrate the stories using them as a visual aid, much like a movie." After the Nizam's rule began in the 16th century, the painters' community started being called Nakashi. "Nakshi means fine work or craft in Urdu. That's why it's also called Cheriyal Nakashi painting," he elaborates. The master craftsman, a seventh generation Cheriyal painter, will share many such facts about the artform in an online workshop hosted by Pune-based social enterprise
Truly Tribal.

The three-day event is part of a series of tutorials that Truly Tribal has been conducting to give artists of traditional artforms, such as Gond, Madhubani and Pattachitra, a source of alternate income during the pandemic. "We work with over 100 traditional artists. Our aim has been to give traditional Indian art of all kinds a platform. So, we trained craftsmen working with us in conducting online classes and kicked off the sessions in April," shares founder Shweta Menon.

Shweta Menon
Shweta Menon

Rakesh D and Menon point out that although Cheriyal was once widely popular, artists started taking up other jobs as the print media and film industry developed and work dwindled. Currently, Rakesh's is the only family in Cheriyal village, Siddipet, practising it. "The scrolls used to be carried by the storytellers, who would display each panel — there would be at least 30 to 40 panels in each scroll measuring 50 ft — as the story unfolded. The eco-friendly paintings are characterised by a bright red background and distinctive facial features, peculiar to Telangana," Menon shares, adding that during the workshop, attention will be paid to getting these features right. The artist will take up a more contemporary scene, for instance, a woman lighting a diya outside her home, and participants will work on mastering the sketching style first. Apart from the craft, participants will also gain an insight into the lives of Cheriyal painters, and a way of life.

On November 20, 21 and 22; 6 pm onwards
Log on to insider.in
Cost Rs 1,499

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First Published: 20 November, 2020 09:17 IST

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