Cheriyal art Art

Telangana Cheriyal artists’ family create COVID-19 masks with traditional motifs

Masks with colourful Cheriyal art   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

A few days ago artist Saikiran Dhanalakota uploaded a Cheriyal painting on Facebook done by his artist mother Padma Dhanalakota. In vibrant colours, the work depicted a family advocating hand hygiene and the ‘stay home, stay safe’ message.

Artist Saikiran sports a mask with Cheriyal motifs created by them

Artist Saikiran sports a mask with Cheriyal motifs created by them   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Now, the artist is taking forward the legacy of Cheriyal painting by creating stories on face masks at his residence in Gajularamaram in Hyderabad alongside his brother Sravan Kumar and parents Padma and Nageshwar Dhanalakota. “The 12th Century Cheriyal scroll painting involves narrative pictures painted on a cloth. These images tell community stories. As the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing communities together in the fight against it, the art is adapting too,” says Saikiran.

Artiste Sravan Kumar painting the mask with a Cheriyal design

Artiste Sravan Kumar painting the mask with a Cheriyal design   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Native to Telangana, Cheriyal paintings were scrolls used by storytellers to narrate epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata in pictures. Storytellers used to carry the scrolls, which used khadi cloth as canvas, across villages to narrate these tales. Coated with tamarind seed paste, rice starch, chalk powder and natural gum (from tree), the scrolls used to have pictures painted by artists using natural colours.

Painting the mask

Painting the mask   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Saikiran uses resources available at home: a double layered khadi cloth and natural red, blue yellow and green colours he sources from Delhi. The khadi cloth is first sanitised, folded and then stitched with cloth strips to hold the mask. The colours are then filled on a rough sketch. So far, the family of artists have created four masks with images of a woman clad in traditional sari, sporting colourful bangles and jewellery and carrying the bonam used in Bathukamma (the offering served in a pot to the Goddess during Telangana’s floral festival), a village couple, a woman with fruits in her gampa (basket), and a man playing sannayi (nadaswaram).

Telangana Cheriyal artists’ family create COVID-19 masks with traditional motifs

Once they procure more material, the family hopes to produce masks commercially. “Even if the lockdown ends, face masks will have to be used in public spaces at least for some time. Our traditionally painted masks will contribute, protect and create a distinct identity,” says Saikiran, who has previously used Cheriyal motifs on bags and mobile phone covers. “Now, face masks give us an opportunity to spread our art among the health conscious. Instead of plain masks, a dash of traditional art looks colourful and attractive,” he adds.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 10:18:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/cheriyal-artist-saikiran-dhanalakota-shares-how-his-artists-family-is-creating-covid-19-masks-with-traditional-motifs/article31425175.ece

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