If you love stories then read along. Let us take you to the vivid world of scroll paintings! Here you will find paintings that would have you falling in love with the art that tells you the story as much as the story itself. Welcome to the world of Cheriyal Art!

 

 Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

               Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

 

 Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

   Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

Originated from the village of Cheriyal, 85 km from Warangal district of Telangana, Cheriyal scroll painting is a version of Nakashi art rich in Indian mythology motifs. Painted in a narrative format like that of a comic strip, Cheriyal art depicts stories from the Puranas and Epics. While they bear some resemblance to Madhubani paintings, they are intensely infused with local flavour that creates the uniqueness in Cheriyal art of storytelling.

Each Cheriyal Scroll painting is drawn on a khadi cloth opening with a piece of Lord Ganesha, followed by Goddess Saraswati. It’s way adopted by the artists to pay respect to the deities and seeking their blessings.

The technique of cheriyal scroll painting would tell you about the sophistication level as firstly they begin with applying a paste of tamarind seed along with tree gum and white clay. After applying three coats of this paste and allowing it to dry for a day or two, the scroll is finally ready for the further procedures. Now the artist draws the outline using a squirrel haired brush. Next is the turn for the predetermined colouring system. The red colour fills the background and blue and yellow colours are used for Gods and Goddesses respectively. While brown and darker shades are used for demons and pink skin tones are used for depicting humans.

Earlier natural dyes were used which were obtained from grounded sea shells, turmeric, vegetables etc. While today natural dyes are largely replaced by organic watercolors which are mixed with tree gum before applying on the scrolls. These paints are said to last over 300 years provided they don’t come in contact with water.

 D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

        D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

Today D.Vaikuntham’s family is only to practice the cheriyal art form, they have continued the Cheriyal tradition since the 15th century. They are the true masters of art form in this era. Apart from making the scroll paintings, the art has got a modified version of making masks in the same colour pattern and same themes of depicting the Indian mythologies as well. Due to the trouble of fitting in the modern world, the artists are forced to modify the art form.

The modified version of Cheriyal art as a mask

    The modified version of Cheriyal art as a                                                mask

Adapting the modern global changes is a major challenge for ancient art forms. It makes it difficult for them to breathe in with so many alternatives and replacements around but Cheriyal Art continues to survive. Ergo, an ancient tradition has been preserved with passion and zeal overflowing to keep it alive today and for coming generation!


Content Research, Conceptualization and Written by Kaavya Lakshman

The region of Kutch has been famous for its unique use of threads, beautiful beads, and intricate hand-made textiles. A dying art of textile craft which deserves utmost appreciation is the Rogan art, pertaining to this part of Gujarat.

Rogan art originated in Persia and came down to Kutch 400 years ago, though there are no historical evidences justifying this statement. In the Persian language, ‘Rogan’ literally means oil based painting. In the olden days, Rogan art was used on bridal clothing, as beautiful borders on the traditional Ghagras and on odhnis (bed spread).

Though Rogan painting has no elaborate history, nor any ritual or religious relevance attached to it, the significance of the art lies in the credibility of the work and the painstaking efforts of the artists. The art form is a fabulous example of the rich cultural tradition of India.

Rogan Art Map

Image Source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/nazariya/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/11205117/rogan-art-map1-1.jpg

Characteristics of Rogan painting

  • Use of natural materials : The canvas of this painting is fabric, and the paints used is organic in nature.
  • Tedious process : The process of Rogan painting is very time consuming and complicated.
  • Colors used : Colors like white, red, blue, yellow, green, and orange are used in the pure form. Locally the colors are called :
  • Yellow : Pavadi
  • Red : Lal
  • Blue : Vadadi
  • White : Safad
  • Green : Leelo
  • Brown : Bhuro
  • Products : Rogan painting has found it’s way too many lifestyle products in today’s day and age. These include cushion covers, bed covers, traditional dresses like kurtas and saris, table cloth and wall hangings.
  • It is not a printing technique, but a hand made process.

 

Process of Rogan painting

  • Process of making the Rogan paste(colors): The paste is prepared by heating either safflower oil, castor oil or linseed oil to boiling point over a period of three days, thereafter pouring it into water. This paste is either mixed with chalk color pigment or vegetable pigments, as per the choice of the artist, to create a thick dye. This gives rise to bright and lively colors. Castor oil is mainly used as castor is a local crop grown in Kutch, and was traditionally sourced from the farmers.

The pastes are stored in earthen pots in order to keep them moist

  • Process of painting on the fabric : The artisan places a small amount of the paste on the palm of his hand. “At first, outlining is done, then the work is filled, then after drying, the colors are added and then the work is done again. Drying generally takes two days. In case of symmetric patterns, to reduce the effort, the fabric is folded from the centre to get the impression on the other half, this also helps in creating effects like the background and the foreground.” (cited from http://gaatha.com/rogan-art-kutch-gujarat/)

The designs made are very fine and detailed, usually geometric and floral motifs are depicted. ‘The Tree of Life’ and Mughal paisleys are also depicted. Though intricacy of the work varies from piece to piece, “if the work is very intricate, then a square foot piece of cloth could take around a month.” (cited from http://gaatha.com/rogan-art-kutch-gujarat/)

Table : A Comparison of the Then And Now of Rogan Art  (information taken from – http://www.isca.in/FAMILY_SCI/Archive/v2/i1/1.ISCA-RJFCCS-2013-026.pdf)

Material/Methods Traditional Present
Raw material Oil Linseed oil, castor oil extracted from plants Castor oil(bought from market)
Dye Pigment colour(natural sources) Pigment colour(natural and synthetic)
Additive used Lime Lime
Stylus Thick and broad at the tips and 7 inches long made of iron rod Fine and narrow at tip and 4to 5 inches long, made of iron
Preparation of gel Utensil used Earthen pots were used Metal pots are used(Aluminium)
Fuel Wood Wood
Amount of Oil Taken 2kg(because bold design were made earlier so consumption was more) 1kg (designs are smaller and fine.)
Storage

Of Roghan gel

Medium size earthen pots were used to store the gel with water Plastic container having 6-7 small bowls to store the roghan gel with water
Colour ranges Limited number of colours were used Many varieties of dyes are available for good combination.
Colour used Red, black Red, black, orange, green, blue, etc.
Fabric Material Cotton(khaddar) Cotton, silk, polyester, georgette, chiffon
Articles made Ghaghara, odhana. Saris, Wall hanging, Toran, Tablecloths, Folder, Purses, Cushion cover.
Customers Localities Mainly tourist and local people
A wareness Limited to local areas Known at international levels.

From the above table, it can be concluded that the method has changed to a great extent to cater to the needs of the growing market.

Artisans

With cutting edge technology defining the pace and the taste of todays world, our age old tribal crafts are finding it difficult to maintain their identity.  Rogan painting is an example of a spell binding yet dying art, with just six people from the same family shouldering this tradition today.(cited from http://gaatha.com/rogan-art-kutch-gujarat/)

As per The Times of India on October 3, 2014 : The 400-year-old Rogan or oil-based art in India is the sole preserve of a Khatri Muslim family based in Kutch region of Gujarat. The paintings, which have a heavy Persian influence, are by Gafoorbhai Khatri, the head of the family and a national award winner.

 

  • Abdul Gafoor Khatri

Abdur Gafur Khatri

Image Source: http://nazariya.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/01-2-3-generations-back-the-kind-of-workC.max-1400×1120.jpg

At the age of nine Abdul Gafoor Khatri left his formal school education, choosing to work with his family on this art form. He would keenly observe his father for hours, learning the process of Rogan art. However, when he was a young adult, he pursued other options to earn a living. In 1983 he got a call from his ailing grandfather, asking for Abdul’s help to execute a complicated order. It was his grandfather’s wish to pass on this special set of skills to the next generation, and not let it die with him. “So, I went back and picked up the brush again…and haven’t put it down since…”, said the talented artisan.

In 1988 Khatri won the State award, and in 1997 he won the National Award for an intricate sari that took over an year to complete.

As cited from http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2004/09/14/stories/2004091400601800.htm , on September 4 2004, “ There are all of four persons well-versed in this form of painting, says Arabbhai Khatri, who was in the city to participate in Paramparik Karigar, an exhibition of traditional art and painting. Apart from him, his three nephews, Abdul Gafoor, Jumabhai and Sumerbhai, have been trained in this form of art. “

As per The Indian Express, on 28 September 2016, “In the 1980s, Rogan painting was almost extinct. Only two craftsmen, Abdul Ghafoor and Rashid, were practising the craft in Gujarat’s Nirona. One could never have expected that 30 years on, the craft is still alive and growing. But, in 2016, there are many more young craftsmen in Nirona who have been trained in the craft and are doing well — which is evident in the variety of Rogan paintings on offer at state emporiums throughout India.”

On the site http://khamir.org/crafts/rogan-painting, a brief introduction is written by the artist :-

 

  • Khatri Arab Hasam

“The Rogan art of painting is an ancient art, over 300 years old.  I learned from my father, and my father learned from his, and so on.  My village is the only place where this work is created.  We use to make pieces for our community, but now we make it for the market.  It is such a rare and beautiful craft; but still it does not sell well.  Most families gave up the craft to find other jobs to get more money.  But not us, we continue the craft.  We are the only Rogan Art family left.

Rogan art is not well known, even in India.  Most of the artisans before me lost their art because they did not pass it down to the next generations.  I will make sure that this practice stays alive.  I am ensuring that my entire family learns and practices Rogan art.  I am also in the process of opening a school that teaches Rogan art to children from different families in this area.

 

Rogan Art in the News

October 3 2014, The Times of India : TOI has learnt that Modi gifted a couple of exquisitely handcrafted Rogan paintings to Obama.

July 8 2016, The Better India : Artist Papiya Mitra, who is also the founder of the Makers Club India, works towards uplifting Indian traditional art forms. In an interview to Sakaal Times, she said:

Even though there is a huge market for Indian art and crafts abroad, the means to sell them are very limited. The Rogan artists have limited themselves to the Kutch region and the next generation is not willing to carry forward the legacy as there is no future in it. If they travel to different parts of the country and teach the techniques to others or if art enthusiasts go to them and learn it and help spread its richness, only then will the awareness about Rogan art increase.

To help Rogan art reach more people, the government has started incentivizing Rogan artists. Many startups and NGOs are also helping to create a market for them. Other than preserving traditional designs, the artists are being encouraged to experiment with new motifs and colour combinations. This will create products that have a different appeal, are affordable and have a wider reach.

In an interview to Travel Knots, Gafoorbhai said:

The Prime Minister buys our works to give them as gifts to dignitaries. Also, we now get a free stall in handicrafts exhibitions all over India to help us showcase our art to the world. Foreigners coming to Kutch today have Nirona on their itineraries and most of them are enchanted by this rare art.

For a long time, this rare craft was not well known even in India. But with a growing fan following that includes Amitabh Bachchan, Waheeda Rehman, Shabana Azmi and, of course, Narendra Modi, Rogan art is now getting the recognition it deserves.

 

Organisations

  • Khamir

Website : http://khamir.org/crafts/rogan-painting

Address : KHAMIR Craft Resource Centre

Behind BMCB Social City

Lakhond-Kukma Crossroads

Post Village Kukma, Taluka Bhuj

Kachchh, Gujarat 370105

India

Phone : 91 02832 – 271272/422

 

2) Rangeela Gujarat 2016  

Website : http://rangeelugujarat.com

 

 


Content Research and Conceptualization by Kaavya Lakshman; Written by Ananya Maahir and Kaavya Lakshman

Sometimes it can be astonishing how generous nature has been while creating colours that they can be sourced from almost everywhere: white from rice flour, black from charcoal powder, yellow from turmeric powder, green from powdered green leaves, red from mixture of turmeric powder and lime and a combination from them can create something so beautiful that only the Gods could be associated with it. One such artform where these colours work wonders is Kalamezuthu.

image source: www.keralatourism.org

image source: www.keralatourism.org

As recorded on June 27, 2016 in The Hindu. “For many students of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kodunganoor, it was perhaps their first glimpse of how five colours sourced from nature could be used to create art. The students had gathered at the school on Saturday afternoon to watch Theeyattu, an art form native to Central Travancore, as part of a cultural outreach programme organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram centre, and the Infosys Foundation, Bengaluru. The students watched as Theeyattu practitioners Vaikom Sasidhara Sarma, Sreejith Sarma, Sarath Sarma, Hari Krishnan, and Vijayan Varriar used the coloured powders to draw a large figure of Bhadrakali using their thumb and index finger in a ritual called Kalamezhuthu.”

image source: www. thiraseela.com

image source:  www.thiraseela.com

History

In Malayalam, the literal meaning of kalam is picture and ezhuthu is the act of drawing. It is also known as “dhulee chithram”, as the painting is made solely of powder. The powder used is extracted solely from natural products. Kalamezhuthu is a unique form of floor art that is predominately found in South Kerala. It is a ritual art, done mainly in temples as well as at the entrance and courtyard of homes as a symbol of welcoming the deities in the house. It is a harmonious blend of Tribal, Dravidian and Arian cultures. Its association with sacred groves and  tantric elements is a later addition. 

 

Legends

The legends are mainly associated with goddess Kali, who is the central depiction of the art. When the Asuras Dharukan and Dhanavendran underwent severe penance, they were granted the privilege by Lord Shiva that they wouldn’t be vanquished by any man and along with this, every drop of blood spilt on earth will give birth to hundreds of further Asuras. The grant of these wishes emboldened them and they created havoc in all the three worlds. When Lord Shiva got to know of this, he opened his third eye and created the fierce Kali who was an incarnation of Shakti, consort of Shiva. Kali being a woman could kill them, and when the blood spilt, she drank all of it before it touched the ground. Thus, she vanquished them all. Narada went to Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, and recounted the victorious battle between Kali and the Asuras. While narrating, he drew a terrifying illustration of the events, thus giving birth to Kalamezhuthu.

image source: www.delhievents.com

image source: www.delhievents.com

Traditions

Ritualistic festivals in Kerala begin from the Malayalam month of and it continues through the harvest season, until the pre monsoon showers. Kalamezhuthu is a part of the worship of gods like Kali, Ayyappan and Vettakkorumakan. The artists are members of communities like Kurups, Theyyam padi Nambiars, Theeyadi Nambiars and Theeyadi Unnis. Traditionally, Kurups are in-charge of Kalamezhuthu. The Velichapad is a priest who is believed to be possessed by the divine spirit. He plays an important role in the Kalamezhuthu. On the day of the offering, the venue is set up by the Kurups by making the Koora (roof), for the Kalam (drawing) and Pattu (song). After this the Kalam is done, starting in the afternoon. The neighborhood is informed of the Kalamezhuthu by the Sandhya Pattu– song at dusk. The traditional musical instruments – ilathalam, veekkan chenda, kuzhal, kombul and chenda – are used in the performance. The Velichapad does the Kalampradhakshinam or Kala Pradaksinam– circling the Kalam with rhythmic steps in tune with the music. The Kurup does the Thiriuzhichal– removing the negative vibes with lighted wicks. After this the Velichapad does the Nalikarameru– throwing of coconuts. The song changes to Kalapattu or Kalam Pattu, a vibrant and mesmerizing song, to which the Velichapad does the Kalathylaattam dance. The grand finale is the most spectacular event of the evening. The priest does the Kalam Maykal– dance in a frenzy that simultaneously erases the Kalam. This denotes the Kalasam– end of the Kalamezhuthu.

image source: www.cyberkerala.com

image source: www.cyberkerala.com

 

Description of the painting

 The canvas of the artist is the floor and he usually makes use of only 5 colors. The scale of the painting ranges from 3-5 meters, making it neither miniature nor gigantic. The work is done with bare hands, without the use of tools. It takes more than two hours to finish the painting. The work starts from the centre and moves outwards. The design is either two dimensional or three dimensional. Above the kalam, decorations such as canopy of palm fronds, garlands of red hibiscus flowers and ocimum leaves (tulasi) are hung. Lighted ball metals are placed on the four corners of the drawing. The patterns of the painting vary depending on the occasion and not on the artist’s choice. It is interesting to note that the expression of the figures depict anger and intense emotions. The deities depicted in the art form are Goddess Bhadrakali, Lord Ayyappa, and the serpent god Naga Devata.

image source: www.thirasleela.com

image source: www.thirasleela.com

Organizations

 The Lalit Kala Akademi organises the Kamalezhuthu Festival that gives people a taste of the art form as well as the performance associated with it to highlight   the roots of fine arts and aesthetic sensibilities of Kerala.

Address : Lalit Kala Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001/ lka@lalitkala.gov.in

Telephone: 011 – 23009200

Fax: 011 – 23009292

Website: http://lalitkala.gov.in/

Information: Dr. Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty , Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi / chairman@lalitkala.gov.in

Mr. Ramakrishna Vedala, Secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi / secretary@lalitkala.gov.in