Mattancheri Murals (contd.) 1

Murals in the Staircase Room The themes are several and various in this room, which measures 18-ft by 17-ft. The paintings include a family portrait of Siva, Vishnu in his Sankarshana form, Ardhanariswara, or Siva as half-female and half-male, the coronation of Rama, Kirata-Siva, Anantasayanam, few themes from the Devi Mahathmyam, paintings of the ten incarnations of Vishnu, and also an unfinished painting of Vishnu. The picture of the deity […]

Mattancheri Murals 5

Mattancheri in Cochin has the distinct smell of trade and commerce even today. The passage of the years has only retouched her trading face, large godowns still stand in and around the quayside. Mattancheri had also been a former capital of the erstwhile rulers of Kochi. When the ‘adventurers from over the seas’ came to Kochi seeking trade, Mattancheri also bustled as a brisk trading port. First the Portuguese and […]

Pundareekapuram Murals 3

Pundareekapuram is a small temple atop a little rise called Midayikunnam near Thalayolaparambu in Kottayam. Architecturally it is not very different from any typical village temple of Kerala. A tiled and saddle-roofed square ‘chuttambalam’ encloses a square sanctum sanctorum. Appended to the small enclosure is a small ‘balikkalpura’. The idol worshipped here is the image of Vishnu sitting astride his celestial vehicle Garuda, together with Bhoodevi. This is a rare […]

Ettumanoor Murals 1

When you travel eleven kilometers to the north of Kottayam town, you reach Ettumanoor and its centuries old temple of Siva. The small town has all the noise and bustle of any small provincial town. But as one travels northwards on the main highway, the ambience of the temple infuses a rare kind of peace. The deity of Ettumanoor still inspires awe and fear in his devotees. This is Siva […]

Panayannarkavu Murals 2

Panayannarkavu is one of the few temples in the state of Kerala where the Sapta Matas, or the Seven Mother Goddesses are worshipped as the presiding power. Chamundi, the fiercest of them all, gets the predominant place as Kali. There is also a temple of Siva in the premises. Situated in a luxuriant grove near Parumala and girdled by a tributary of the Pampa, this apparently modest temple is only […]

Gajendra Moksha Of Krishnapuram 10

Krishnapuram’s history is pregnant with faded memories of a bygone era. This unpretentious village near Kayamkulam was once the abode of the heirs apparent of the Kayamkulam royal house. Near the old temple of Krishna from which the area got its name, is an old but well-kept palace. Though much smaller in size than Padmanabhapuram palace, this is a much more typical example of Kerala’s architectural style. This palace was […]

Padmanabhapuram Murals 1

Even a casual tourist to the Padmanabhapuram Palace will be affected by a hard sense of the past. History, to use a cliche, slumbers here, brooding over the past. This palace-complex was once the nerve centre of the Venad kingdom, later the kingdom of the rulers of Thiruvithamkur, whose family tree claims lineage to the Cheras of Kodungalloor. This magnificent palace is also a splendid example of native architecture at […]

Kerala Paintings – Historical Context 4

From Indian Painting: The Great Mural Tradition, by Mira Seth The Cheras ruled in Kerala in the third century BCE. They seemed to have been the most prominent kingdom here until the sixth century CE. The Chalukyas of Badami are reported to have conquered north Kerala during the sixth and seventh centuries. The Pallavas attacked and defeated them from the west in the sixth and seventh centuries, the Pandyas in […]

Kerala Murals – Perspectives

The colors selected by the artists had a direct bearing on the characters portrayed. According to ancient texts, there are three broad qualities assigned to superhuman, human, and sub-human beings, viz. Satva (the noblest), Rajas (the active and middle principle) and Tamas (the dark and destructive principle) respectively. To represent Satvic quality, green and shades of green were used. Characters of the Rajasic quality were portrayed in red or golden, […]

Kerala Murals – Principles & Guidelines 9

Generally, frescoes were painted on the surface of walls of granite or laterite after they have been prepared suitably. The wall, technically referred to as the carrier, was first given a rough plaster coating, with a mixture of sand and lime. A second, smoother coating of plaster was then applied on the first. These two layers [are] technically referred to as the ground. A mixture of resin and lime solution […]