Know More about Kerala Mural Arts at

published on July 21, 2009

Introducing this website aimed at promoting Temple Mural Arts

Kerala has an exclusive tradition as its own for it painting. Sculptures and painting of temples here are clear evidences for that. The murals of triunandikara in kanyakumari district and thiruvanchikulam, which was done during the period of 9th to 12th century AD, are some of the examples for living specimens of Kerala painting. Most of the murals (paintings) that we can see today are belonging to period from 15th century, and it is definitely a continuation of the painting in the pre-historic period. The painting found in Edakkal in Wayanad and perumkadavila in TVM are belonging of Mesolithic period.

            The mural of Kerala is very much related to Dravidian art of Kalamezhuthu. This was much more developed from the customs and religious in trals. It was the art of sprinklings and filling up of attractive colours inside the outlines of drawings. The architecture and murals are also influenced by pal lavas.

            The oldest rock cut cave temple of Thriunandikkara might be enriched by a lot of murals and paintings on those days, but now its sketchy outlines are exisisting. It might be done in 9th or 10th century AD. However the tenth century inscription of Goda Rani Varma found in the Nedumpuram temple mentioned about the wages paid to the painters.

            A Portuguese traveler Castaneda who accompanied Vasco-Da-Gama in his voyage to India has referred an meident in which he mistook a Hindu temple as Christian church and entered to it. They misunderstood the monstrous images on the temple as of satan’s probabily they must have stepped into Bhagawathi temple some where between kappad and kozhikode.

            In Kerala, the plentiness of paintings can be seen in the churches also. The paintings of Virgin Mary in the churches of Edappalli and Veehur are going a lot of spiritual satisfaction to the devotees.

            The orthodex Syrian churches at chappad at Malanthuruthi also have some interesting paintings. The outer wall of kanyur church has a huge painting depicting the scene of battle between army of Tippu Sultan on one side and those of east India Company with the bare footed local militia on the other side.            The Archeological evidences points that the period from the mid sixteenth century onwards is the golden period of murals and paintings in Kerala.

The Sanskrit text silparatna, describing painting and related subjects by Sri kumara must have been a role model for contemporary and later artists. There is no other text instead for it till now, which precisely discussing about the aesthetics and technological aspects of Indian Arts.

Most of the subjects for murals and painting are related to Hindu Gods and ethics. It was not a fanuful representation but was drawn following the description in the “dhyana slokas”.

The murals of kanthaloor temples in tvm, parthivapuram in kanyakumari Trivikramam temple in tvm, are the oldest temples among all the others. Ramayana murals of mattanchery palace, Trissur Vadakumnatha temple chemmanthitha siva temple, kudamaloor, thodikatam temple are excellent examples for the painting of 14th to 16th century AD – the prolific period. The close study of mural arts of Kerala points out the importance of preserving the cultural hadition. Alongside, it showed the need to protect such a diverse and aesthetic art form. Kerala holds second place after Rajasthan for its largest collection of archeologically important mural sites. Kerala has its own tradition evolved as a complement to her unique architectural style and that make her different from all the other states. Murals are created on a meticulously prepared white surface, using the colours from natural substances and minerals. A lot of stones, leaves and charcoal are using for colouring. Even the brush for painting was made from arrow grass. .

Artists behind this venture to pass this Traditional art to next generation are 

KVM Unni
Babu Raj Manjeri (Guruvayoor)
Unni S Achari (Kaladi)
Sumesh Shanmugan (Thalasseri)
Sreejith Thriprayar (Guruvayoor)
Shiju Idukki (Mumbai)
Sreejith Kannur (Kaladi)
Sukesh (Kaladi)

Click Here for Gallery

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