Tribal arts tour of India - Cheriyal, Mata ni Pachedi

Tribal Arts Tour of India - Cheriyal, Mata ni Pachedi

In the last couple of months we visited the tribal arts that narrate stories of everyday life, culture, festivals, celebrations and rituals of tribal life. The motifs were inspired by the nature surrounding them. 
Now let's visit the folk arts that are inspired by mythological scripts such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Garuda Purana, Krishna Leela, Markandeya Purana and such other epics. 

State - Telangana
Tribal art - Cheriyal Paintings
Situated at - Cheriyal village, 100km away from Hyderabad
Material used - Organically made brushes, paints and cloth

Cheriyal painting is an art of scroll painting which was used for narrating stories from Indian mythological epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata. Traditional folk singers, a nomadic community called Kaki Padagalu would move from one village to another, narrating stories from mythology using cheriyal as a tool for visual presentation. They would also use harmonium, tabla, and other instruments to bring about tune and music in their narratives.
These storytelling sessions were often a welcome break for farmers after their day-long labour in the fields. 
Cheriyal_D Vaikuntum_Google arts & culture
Cheriyal painting by D Vaikuntum
Image credit: Google arts & culture
These scrolls are made on a long vertical piece of cloth in a narrative form. They are normally 50 metres in length and have an entire tale in detail and can take close to three to four months to complete one scroll. 

Cheriyal paintings can be uniquely identified by their vivid hues, mostly primary colours made of natural dyes. The colours used in the figures had a certain meaning and symbolism attached. The background was painted in red to highlight the figures in the paintings. The face and skin were painted as blue and yellow denoting the gods and goddesses respectively. Brown and darker shades were used to represent demons and pink skin tones were used for humans. 

Cheriyal paintings were granted Geographical Indication Status (GIS) in 2007. 

State - Gujarat
Tribal art - Mata ni Pachedi
Situated at - Ahmedabad
Material used - Organically made brushes, paints and cloth

“Mata-ni-Pachedi” literally means “Behind the Mother Goddess”. When people of the nomadic Vaghari community of Gujarat were barred from entering temples, they made their own shrines with depictions of the Mother Goddess on the cloth.


Mata ni pachedi_ Sanjay Chitara_Google arts & culture
Mata ni Pachedi painting by Sanjay Chitara
Image credit: Google arts & culture
Traditional Mata ni Pachedi is a rectangular piece of fabric used as a canopy in a nomadic shrine.  It usually has a set pattern. The mother Goddess occupies the central place and is surrounded by deities and commoners worshipping her. The painting is divided into seven to nine columns narrating different stories and scenes from mythology.


In a small locality in Ahmedabad, artisans make these paintings using the same methods followed 200 years ago. Cotton fabric is first de-starched and then treated with Harada paste, to prepare it for absorbing the colour. The main colours used are red (extracted from tamarind seeds), black (prepared from jaggery and iron) and white (cloth). Black is majorly used to draw and outline the motifs. Colour black is meant to repel malevolent spirits and intensify spiritual energy. White is considered as the colour of purity. Red is associated with the goddess and believed to possess healing powers. After application of each colour, the fabric is boiled in an alizarin solution, to bring out the colour. Then the cloth is washed in running water of Sabarmati River, so that any excess colour flows away, instead of staining the cloth. Over the course of time, artists have started using wooden blocks facilitating the use of finer motifs. They also incorporate many more colours such as indigo, green and yellow extracted from natural materials.


Nowadays, artisans use the art form to make smaller souvenir pieces, wall hangings and stoles for the tourists.

Text Credits -,,, Dilip Chitara
Start your own tribal art collection with pieces here

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