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Antique Cheriyal Painted Scroll – Art for Oral Traditions

May 05, 2017 2 min read

In  South Indian Paintings  – A catalogue of the British Museum collection, A. L. Dallaiccola notes  “Although in the past the majority of Indian people might have been illiterate, they were not uneducated. They were taught the principles ruling their religious and social life through the recitation of stories drawn from the epics, the puranas and other religious texts… In the past, the retelling of these stories provided the education of the unlettered, and the discourses were accompanied by visual aids: scrolls, painted cloth hangings, sets of paintings, and wooden boxes with folding, concertina-like doors painted with scenes from the ‘career’ of a deity, such as the portable shrine from Tirupati that is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford… The earliest known reference to the picture showmen is found in Patanjali‘s Mahabhashya (2nd century BC). Commenting on the passage on the historic present in Panini‘s grammar, the Ashtadhyayi (c. 5th century BC), Patanjali takes as an example some picture showmen who are discussing the killing of Kamsa at the hands of Krishna… There is also a specific mention of a picture showing Kamsa being dragged by the hair and beaten by Krishna. Numerous references to picture showmen and painted scrolls occur in literary sources.”

In Telangana the artists were called Nakashis (a word from urdu) and the singing wandering minstrels were the Mandhets. As Cheriyal is the village of origin of such artists, this style of scroll painting that supported the oral traditions of Telangana came to be known as Cheriyal Paintings.

Here is a rare Cheriyal Scroll from the late 1800s / early 1900s that we had the good fortune to acquire awhile ago.

Antique Cheriyal Painting Scroll


The subject of this scroll that is almost 5 m long is the Krishna Leela.

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May 2017







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