Documenting traditional art forms | the Hindu

Telugu University recording performances of dying folk art forms

The ancient art forms owned and practiced by select communities and dependent castes that were the only source of entertainment and enlightenment for the general public are on the wane.

As part of the ongoing efforts to document the traditional art forms of the district and preserving them for posterity, ‘Madella Puranam’ was rendered by Bhonagiri Sammaiah and his troupe at a specially arranged event at the Tribal and Folklore wing of the Telugu University here recently.

The district is known for a number of art forms of narrating stories from epics using scrolling paintings like Daksha Yagna and Madella Puranam, among others.

Traditional narrative

In another performance B. Narasaiah and troupe of Jamandlapalli of Mahabubabad district gave a rendition of Daksha Yagna. Mr. Narasaiah set up a huge scroll painting and went on singing the epic while his assistants accompanied him enriching the tale using musical instruments.

According to Telugu University Dean B. Ramesh there are 12 different arts forms in Warangal district alone and most them are on the wane now.

“Only few people are left who still perform. There is no public patronage now and hence we are documenting them for posterity,” he told The Hindu.

These artistes belonging to different castes go round villages narrating tales from the epics and seeking alms from the public. Sometime the performance goes on for three days usually during night hours. However, with emergence of cinema, television and other modes of entertainment not many are patronising these traditional artistes.

Scroll painting

Mr Sammaiah narrated ‘Shakti Puranam – Parvati Kalyana ghatam’ using the scroll paintings showing the relevant pictures of the scene.

“We are interested in carrying on with the tradition but people are not interested in spending time watching our performance. There is no time for people and cinema and television dominate the lives even in villages,” he lamented.

Artistes identified

University Folklore Wing head Gaddam Venkanna said they identified and brought artistes from Bollikunta, Jamandlapalli, Mulug Ghanpur and others villages. The University would document the performances of different art forms being rendered by the few artistes are still practicing them. “If theses elderly artistes pass away, there is no way we can document their art. We are making audio and video recording of their performances,” he said.

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