Cherial Scroll Painting

Dastkari Haat Samiti

The process of preparing the canvas and painting a Cherial Scroll Painting from Telangana, India

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Preparing the canvas
Cherial scroll paintings are narrative pictures painted on the cloth that were used by traditional storytellers of Telangana. These storytellers travelled from one village to another, reciting tales of legendary heroes. Traditional Cherial scrolls, made on handwoven khadi fabric, is first treated with a specially prepared solution. The fabric base is specially prepared by the painters.
Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Three coats are generally applied. This is to make the canvas stiff and to allow free movement of the brush for outlining, to help in colour absorption and increase the lifespan of the painting.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The solution made of rice starch, white clay, boiled tamarind seed and lac solution is prepared to treat the surface.

A soft cloth, folded into a round shape, is used to apply this solution.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Outlining the shapes
Once the canvas and the colours are ready, the artist paints whatever scene he wishes to depict, using graphite to make a very light outline on the canvas. The outlines are sharp and well-defined.
Cheriyal scroll painting, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Once the canvas is prepared, the artist marks out the frame using graphite.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Brushes made using squirrel and camel hair are used to outline and paint.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The outline of figures is drawn free-hand, in clean brush strokes, with no preliminary markings or rough drawings.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The outlines are sharp and well defined.

The outline is painted directly onto the canvas in red using a fine squirrel hair brush.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The more well defined the lines, the more is the depth of the experience of an artist.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Filling in colour
Once the fabric is prepared and the outlines drawn, the artist fills the background with bright red, excluding the outlines drawn earlier. He fills colour into the figures with a goat hair brush. It is then left to dry. As it dries quickly, he begins to outline the characters and other features in black with the help of a finer squirrel hair brush. Artists use natural and commercial colours for their art form.

Bold solid colours are used to fill in the painting.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The artist fills in the background with red colour.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Both natural and commercially available colours are used for painting.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The artist excludes the outlines that have been drawn while filling the background with colour.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The artist does not use any visual references or guides. The composition is in his mind and unfolds on the fabric with each brush stroke.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

After the background is complete and dry, other colours are filled into the defined spaces.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Natural colors used for painting are extracted from different elements such as stones, ash from an oil lamp and sea shells.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Yellow is obtained from a stone called pevdi in Telugu, which is the local language.

Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Then and now: D Vaikuntham and Family
Compared to the long scrolls made in the past, artists have now begun making smaller ones. These may depict just a single episode or a few characters from a traditional story. The newer ones can be framed and hung easily in modern environments. Gollu dolls and masks have also become a part of home decor. Cherial painting continues in the hands of a few selected artists who use their unique techniques to carry forward an age-old tradition.
Cheriyal scroll painting, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

D. Vaikuntam, whose family has continued this tradition since the 15th century, is one of the masters of this art.

Cheriyal scroll painting, D. Vaikuntam, 2010, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A traditional Cherial painting based on the life of Rama.

Cheriyal scroll painting: Making a Cheriyal mask, 2017, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Read more about Cherial Scroll Paintings and Masks here:

- Preparing Colours
- Cherial Masks
- A Gallery of Paintings

Dastkari Haat Samiti
Credits: Story

Text: Aloka Hiremath and Jaya Jaitly
Photography:Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: D. Vaikuntam and family
Ground Facilitator: Shalini Shashi
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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