With the rise in the requirement of colourful and sustainable masks, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a Cheriyal artisan from Hyderabad, Telangana has come up with an innovative method. Saikiran Dhanalakota combines Cheriyal motif paintings, with cloth face masks, to form an inseparable match. Since the mandate to wear masks in public is here to stay for the foreseeable future, colourful masks prove to be functional, as well as fashionable, during these times.
A number of people are opting for cloth masks as they are reusable, unlike the surgical masks. With various online tutorials, on how to make cloth face masks at home, Saikiran goes one step further and attempts to make cloth face masks with individual Cheriyal motif characters on them. “We use layers of cotton cloth and make the masks at home by cutting and sewing all the pieces together. After the masks are washed, we paint the Cheriyal characters onto the masks using fabric colours. Post the entire process, the masks are washed and sanitized for fresh use” explained Saikiran while chatting with Yo! Vizag.
Cheriyal Art is showcase mythology, and folklore narratives, on scrolls rich in motifs. The art form is particular to Telangana. With the advent of computers and television, it is gradually perishing, leaving only eight families to continue the Cheriyal painting work in Telangana. One of the families are the Dhanalakotas. “We wanted to bring back this art form as people have either forgotten or are merely unaware of its existence. Along with providing reusable cloth face masks to the public we also want to highlight this ancient art form” said Saikiran.
Although the Cheriyal painting motifs and characters are mythology-based, Saikiran has chosen to paint rural motifs on the masks. So far, the family has completed four face masks. These are with images of a man playing ‘sannayi’, during the festival of Sankranthi, a rural couple facing each other, a traditional woman carrying a pot of offerings to the Goddess, during a floral festival, and a woman carrying fruits in her basket.
The masks are reusable and can be washed after each use. They are available in two sizes; big and small. “Usually Cheriyal paintings are done using natural colours. However, we have used fabric colours on the mask so that the colours do not fade or wash away. The maintenance of these masks is also very simple. One has to take care of it just like any piece of fabric” added Saikiran. Each mask is priced at Rs 150. They can only be sold after the lockdown due to the lack of transportation facilities.