Velamma Naidu and Pedamma Devi, toys for ritual display and narration. Pigment painting and lacquer on models of wood, sawdust, cloth and tamarind seed powder; 22 cm x 14 cm; 25 cm x 9 cm. Cherial, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. c. early 20th century. 7/3059(1), 7/3060(2).

In addition to narrating stories depicted on cloth panels, the itinerant “picture-showmen” of Andhra Pradesh also use such painted models1 representing various deities, birds and animals as aids to narration. These toys, created by the Nakkash community of scroll painters, are essentially models or puttalas of wood, sawdust and tamarind seed powder covered with a thin layer of cloth which is subsequently prepared for painting in bright colours, the black outlines and eyes being filled in last..

The male figure, Velamma Naidu, with a typical turban or patka, is that of a socially prominent man, while the female, Pedamma devi, typically painted yellow, is the wife of Pedi Raja, a king. The two are part of a set of figures employed in the narration of local myths and legends for the benefit of the Yadays or Dhangars, a community which is generally pastoral. The itinerant performers who use these toys for narrative display are the Mandhets who go around singing tales to the clients sometimes for over 15 to 20 days for a nominal fee, usually paid in kind.

1.In conversation with painter-craftsman D. Chandriah Nakkash from Cherial

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