Monday, July 21, 2014


Visitors of Kerala are very much impressed about the unique,distinctive and ancient mural paintings found on the walls of certain famous Temples,Churches and Palaces.These ancient mural paintings are found in about 50 temples of Kerala.Most of these are calculated as drawn between 9th century and 12th century and and some are drawn  later.These 'fresco' paintings are all made from natural pigments and vegetable colours only.Throughout all these years many of them retained their colour stability and luminous but some of them fade out apparently or worn out here and there.Several art lovers and historians like Prof.M.G.Sasibhushan came forward for the necessity of preserving them and the  Government extended all measures to maintain and preserve them with the help of new generation artists who got training in this art and possess  dedication, skill and imagination.
These were drawn on the walls not merely as a show piece but they were all used or still using for reverence.There are rules and regulations regarding these paintings and these traditions are followed by new generation artists also.
All over India  in many states Hindus usually make  on the floor outside the entrance main door certain artistic drawings which they believe will attract the deity of prosperity to their homes.In Tamil Nadu etc those kind of  drawings are made in different patterns by ladies everyday morning and known as 'Kolams' and in North Indian states such patterns made using colour powders are known as 'Rangoli'.
In Kerala from very ancient times as the rituals of some of the  'Bhadrakali Temples,Vettakorumakan Temples,Serpent Temples' etc 'Kalamezhuthu Pattu' is performed during festival periods or conducted as an offering by devotees.
Very big drawings of deities are drawn on floor by expert artists using natural colour powders like 'lime,turmeric powder,brick powder,charcoal powder,powder of green leaves' etc and when finished the drawing of the deity  they will be having a life like form.The surrounding area will be decorated with tender leaves of coconut tree,flower garlands etc,several 'Nilavilakku'(typical oil lamps used for 'pooja rituals' in temples and homes) will be lit, and singers sing traditional songs to propitiate the deity with accompanying percussion instruments.The whole atmosphere creates the presence of the deity there.
The origin of Kerala's Fresco paintings  would have derived from 'Kalamezhuthu'.
All the fresco paintings  found in Kerala are scenes from religious texts like ' Ramayana,Bhagavata,Mahabharata' etc and in Churches they are drawn from stories taken from Bible.
Traditionally these paintings abide certain rules and so mostly viewers can differentiate the characters depicted in them whether they are good or bad to an extent.
The genuine characters who followed spiritual way of life and are good characters (Satva Guna) are shown in green shades mostly,characters who valued materialistic way of life, that those  who wanted wealth,power etc(Rajo Guna) are drawn in red or golden yellow, and evil characters who are bad and wicked(Tamo Guna) are drawn in white or black.This must not be compulsory and depends on the imagination of the artist.Bust usually the drawings in this category have a general style which is unique for this art form.

The largest mural painting found in Kerala is at 'Krishna Puram Palace' which belonged to 'Maharaja of Kayamkulam' and situated   near Kayamkulam town at a place known as Krishnapuram.The wall painting here  is based on 'Gajendra Moksham' a  story described in 'Bhagavata' puranic text.
Mural Paintings at Padmanabha Swamy Temple-Trivandrum,Padmanabhapuram Palace,Vadakkumnatha Temple-Trichur,Guruvayoor Temple, Edapally Church,Ettumanoor Temple etc  are all very famous.
The new generation artists follow the traditions and customs when they draw new drawings   or do maintenance work for preservation of any old mural  paintings.
They use natural pigments only and use brush made of 'Eyyam Pullu' a kind of grass found on riverbanks.The colour patterns and style are also followed as per tradition.Since the wall paintings at Padmanabhapuram Palace,Krishnapuram Palace and in Temples are all sanctified and considered holy,the artists who do preservation work if any to any of these do it with much respect and reverence.
Some important murals of Kerala are described here. 

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