MATERIAL: Hand-Drawn
TYPE: Scroll
DIMENSIONS: 475 cm x 43.8 cm (15.58 ft x 17.24 inches)
NOTES: Rare. Very few Cheriyal Scrolls have survived due the nature of their use. Some that were collected in the colonial times have survived but very very few come up for commercial sale. Acquired from a US auction house.
ITEM ID: 5278
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Cheriyal Painting Scroll – Krishna Leela

DATE
Century: 19th (1801-1900)
Notes: Age unknown but estimated to be from the mid 1800s.

An antique Cheriyal Indian Narrative Scroll.

According to scholar Arpit Pansari, “This depicts the complete Krishna Leela. The life of Krishna from his birth and all periods and incidents in his life.”

The subject of this scroll is the Krishnayan or life of Krishna. The scrolls are drawn on handmade cloth called “khadi” which is specially processed by applying a paste of tamarind seeds, tree gum, and white clay. It is used as a visual aid used by singers to narrate folk tales and legends as they went from home to home to narrate the legend to educate and entertain the people. This is an extremely long scroll of hand painted papers stitched together with several scenes from the Krishna Leela

Cheriyal Scroll Painting is a stylized version of Nakashi art, rich in the local motifs peculiar to the Telangana. They are at present made only in Hyderabad, Telangana, India. The scrolls are painted in a narrative format, much like a film roll or a comic strip, depicting stories from Indian mythology, and intimately tied to the shorter stories from the Puranas and Epics. Earlier, these paintings were prevalent across Andhra, as also various other parts of the country, albeit flavoured with their distinct styles and other local peculiarities dictated by the local customs and traditions. In the same way, Cheriyal scrolls must have been popular across Telangana in earlier times, though with the advent of television, cinemas and computers it has been fenced into its last outpost, the Cheriyal town.

Cheriyal Paintings can be easily recognized by the following peculiarities and unique characteristics:

• Painted in vivid hues, mostly primary colors, with a predominance of red in the background, the paintings are characterized by the unbridled imagination of the local artisans who were not constrained by the academic rigor that characterized the more classical Tanjore painting and Mysore painting. For example, the artist hardly bothers about perspective in Cheriyal paintings and sets out the narrative by placing the relevant figures in appropriate order and position in the relevant background. The iconography of even the major deities like Shiva, Vishnu, etc. has a strong local idiom.

•The subjects of these scroll paintings are easy to relate to – as the themes and stories are familiar – drawn from ancient literary, mythological and folk traditions. The common themes are from the Krishna Leela, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Shiva Puranam, Markandeya Puranam interspersed with the ballads and folk-stories of communities like Gauda, Madiga and so on.

• The main narrative is spiced up with scenes from simple rural life – Women doing chores in the kitchen, men working in the paddy fields or boozing away in merry abandon, festival scenes, etc. are endearingly depicted.

• The costumes and settings in which the figures are depicted are typical and reflect the culture of Andhra, where these paintings originated.

• Within the narrow panels, proportion is created by depicting trees, or a building, a pillar with drawn curtains, etc. However more often than not, the proportion of individual characters is determined by their relative importance in that particular scene, with the most important character being the largest and most detailed and the lesser characters being smaller and less detailed.