Cherial Paintings – Nakashi Patam were used by story tellers in Telengana region of
to narrate stories from the Mahabharata, Shiva Purana and Adi Purana. The
stories from local legends and myths were also narrated by the storytellers
with the help of Cherial paintings.
Vaikuntam Nakash is today the lone practitioner of the 500-year-old Cherial painting tradition, just like his father was. His father chose to train his sons Vaikuntam and his brother. The genesis of the art form lay in wall paintings in temples and on ‘vahanas’ and gradually became part of the region’s oral narrative theatre.
“We make our paintings on the instruction of the story teller and the narrative sequence. Then the story teller leaves to return after a year during which time the ‘chitrakars’ would have completed the scroll. In the olden days, the chitrakar or nakash would receive articles such as rice and dried coconut, as a fee on the completion of his work. Offering of coconut still accompanies the ritual handing over of the painting to the story teller, after which it becomes his property.”
Evocatively squirrel-brushed in indigo, black from lamp soot, white from seashells and red from the Ayurvedic lnglicum, the Cherial painting is an integral part of the story itself.
The fish-eyed figures seem to move sensuously across the horizontal panels of the canvas which is unrolled, bit by bit, for the pictorial narrative.
Musicians add ragas and talas while the tabla’s rhythmic beats lend a sense of heightened drama to the flickering lights on the painting, which come from the lanterns held aloft by the villagers. Since the Cherial canvas is often 60 ft long, a single story can extend to weeks or even a month.