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New look to the age-old art

New look to the age-old art
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All of 26 Danalakota Sai Kiran Varmam, who comes from a family that has been practising and preserving the ageold art form of Cheriyal Scroll Painting...

All of 26 Danalakota Sai Kiran Varmam, who comes from a family that has been practising and preserving the age-old art form of Cheriyal Scroll Painting for generations is striving hard to keep this art form alive. The youngster is carrying forward the legacy of his ancestors by giving a modern touch to the traditional art form.

Sai Kiran, who recently completed his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Sri Venkateswara College of Fine Arts, Hyderabad, says that the traditional paintings are disappearing by the day. The impact of technology and new trends are totally weakening the artform and leaving artists deprived of work in the country.

This 400-year-old Cheriyal Scroll Painting style is well-known in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring States. It is a popular form of storytelling in Telangana. Cheriyal paintings were usually used for reciting epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata besides that social issues and contemporary incidents were also showcased. The artform helps to narrate the story through a cloth painted with natural colours. During the period of Razakars in Nizams rule, the Cheriyal paintings were high in demand. Among the several communities which used to practice this art on the Kakipadagalollu community are still practising this Cheriyal painting in villages.

Sai Kiran states that with the advent of technology and Westernisation this artform is dwindling away and to keep the art form alive he is adopting new trends. “I learnt this art form from my father and my entire family makes paintings. I am transforming this traditional form of art into a new style and striving to give it a new face.

To appeal to younger generations, I am painting it on sarees, t-shirts, mobile covers, laptop covers, handbags among others. The art of making Cheriyal masks is a different ball game and I am acclimatising it on things which are in daily use like pen stands, decorative items for study room and toys for children.”

The speciality of this art form is that only natural colours are used and artists mostly use bright colours, which are sourced from natural materials such as indigo, sea shells, tamarind seeds and coloured stones. The medium is a khadi canvas for which khadi fabric is processed with sawdust, tamarind-seed paste, rice starch, white mud and tirumani, or tree gum. Using tamarind-seed and rice starch paste they make Cheriyal masks.

Sai Kiran says, “Hardly there are only 10 to 15 people in India who are working on Cheriyal paintings. To preserve this traditional art form, I am conducting workshops and teaching people who are interested in this.”

He says that there is a need to spread this art form to reach every corner of the world and to fulfil this objective he learnt English and Hindi to communicate with a variety of people and make them understand the soul of the art. Danalakota Nageswar, the State Award winner and father of Sai Kiran, says that he worked on Cheriyal paintings in an old traditional way as his father Danalakota Venkat Ramaiah did. He added that he is worried about the legacy of his ancestors, but Sai Kiran took it as a profession and is giving it a new face.

- Sheker Shivarathri

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