When in 1498 A.D, a Portuguese traveler Castaneda recorded having found some grandiose paintings on walls of what he presumed was a church; archeologists knew there is more history to those paintings than known.
Exploring down the line, we now know that painting on walls in Kerala dates back to as long as the pre-historic age, for many such masterpieces were found on rocks from the upper Paleolithic period.
However, mural painting in Kerala is said to have begun between 7th and 8th century A.D, being heavily influenced by the Pallava art.
Since the time they were imbibed, their common subjects were religion, gods, and scripts extracted from mythology.
Kerala murals then and now:
One striking difference between the murals paintings in their earliest days and now is that when they began, they were essentially wall paintings. That is, their only medium was a wall or a rock. Now, however, artists have moved to more contemporary media and have started making use of canvases, papers and even cloth for painting. They have also moved to painting various other subjects now.
Pigments and gum used for painting are still natural to a large extent though. For example, the colors used are extracted from vegetables or made using certain minerals or stones.
Characteristics of Kerala Mural Painting:
Kerala Murals are painted in bright colors with orange (saffron red) and blue being the dominant shades. However, colors like red, green, yellow, white and black can also be found. The paintings are more flowy than symmetrical and often follow a pattern of stroke delicateness and detail.
Characters depicted are more towards conveying an emotion or depicting a bond and hence facial features are of great importance in this form of art.
Mural artists also strictly follow a ratio and abide by the rule of thirds, better known as the Golden Rule.
Some exemplary Kerala Murals from our store:
Manomay: The Winner of Hearts
There is probably no traditional art of India that does not take Lord Ganesha as its subject more often than not and so is the case with Kerala Mural Painting.
This painting is one of the finest examples of this art form painted in bright colors and depicting a cheerful play in the expressions of the lord.
Jesus Christ: The Last Supper
One of the most prominent instances in the history of Christianity is this moment when he declared that one of these disciples would betray him. This incident was first painted into popularity by very renowned Renaissance painter, Leonardo Da Vinci.
This painting of The Last Supper recreated by one of our artists captures the essence of the moment when Jesus is calm and composed, having accepted his fate while his disciples are in angst and wonder.
Advadarsin: Lord Krishna, The Supreme Guide
Yet another iconic moment in mythology is when Arjuna falls into a moral dilemma just before the epic Kurukshetra war and Lord Krishna imparts him with the knowledge of the Bhagavat Gita.
“karmanye Va Adhikaraste, Maa Phaleshu Kadachana”
Your authority begins and ends with the act, the outcome is Mine and My own, the Lord declares.
That very scene is captured in this Kerala Mural Painting in much detail, beauty, and importance to expressions.
Dakshinamurty: Lord Shiva, the Ultimate Teacher
In stark detail and bright hues, this painting stands different from other depictions of Lord Shiva where he is often portrayed as a family man, as a destroyer or as a dancer.
Lord Shiva here is depicted as a teacher as he is an idol of immense knowledge.
Do you like reading our stories? Make sure you are subscribed to our newsletters and follow our blogs regularly.