Cherial is a village near Jangaon of Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh located 100 odd kms from Hyderabad, where the traditional art of scroll painting has originated and is kept alive. This traditional art form has managed to stay true to its roots and is not adulterated in its themes, designs or colour schemes. The Cherial village was once very popular for producing these scrolls, dolls and masks which were mainly used to narrate myths and folklore subjects in the villages by wandering storytellers. These scrolls and paintings depict stories from the epics, puranas and other Hindu legends and thrived under the patronage of the Kakatiyas of Warangal.
In the villages of Andhra Pradesh, traditional art forms were widely used by the local storytelling community popularly known as “Kaki Padagollu”. The scrolls were used as visual aids to tell stories to different communities. Reminiscent of the popular strips like the Amar Chitra Katha, each frame portrayed scenes step by step depicting the highlights of the story. At times a Cherial scroll can be over 20 metres in length.
Another distinctive features that makes cherial folk paintings stand apart, is the rich and vibrant scheme of colours. And interestingly, all the characters in these scrolls don similar features – identical sharp noses, big almond shaped eyes and wide mouths.
Sometimes, the designs are customized and made to order on request e.g. the black ad white scroll painting seen in the image above. The story, style and other details can be specified
In the 19th century, many scroll painters in the Telengana region earned a livelihood from these Cherial scrolls, each community in Telengana had their own scrolls, typical to their sub-cultural identity. With time, the demand for these scrolls and dolls almost became non-existent, and the balladeers and storytellers became rare. This traditional art form seems to have survived due to the untiring efforts and unflinching faith of D Venkatramiah. The remaining Cherial scroll painters of the era began to desert because they could no longer make a living out of the art. At present, the tradition continues in the hands of his son D. Vaikuntam Nakash and his sons, who actively practise this art at the place where this art form originated, in Cherial. They can be reached through the contact details available at their blog : http://vaikuntamnakash.blogspot.in/
Besides painting scrolls, masks and wooden figures using “Puniki Wood” (which is light in weight) are also made based on similar features and colour schemes.