Kerala Mural

The earliest of Kerala murals adorn the walls of the Thirunandhikara Cave Temple in present day Tamil Nadu. Most of the noted mural works of Kerala were done between the 15th and 19th centuries and some even dating back to the 8th century. The murals of Kerala evolved through the significant influences of ancient Dravidian rituals like Kalamezhuthu and Patayani. The oldest of the murals found in Kerala are those in the Thirunandikkara Cave temple now a part of Kanyakumari district in the neighbouring State of Tamil Nadu. The largest mural panel in Kerala called the Gajendra Moksha is at the Krishnapuram Palace near Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district. Extensive murals depicting scenes from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Bhagavatha are preserved at the Mattancherry Palace in Ernakulam district. The murals of the Shiva Temple at Ettumanoor provide insights into the earliest forms of Dravidian mural art. 

Traditional murals used panchavarana (Sanskrit: five colours) exclusively i.e. red, yellow, green, black and white,[white being the colour of the wall itself. Colours are prepared from vegetable and mineral pigments. Red is derived from red laterite, yellow is derived from yellow laterite, white from lime, and black from oil-lamp soot. Leaves of Neelamari plant are squeezed and the extract is used after drying up to be mixed with Eravikkara for obtaining the green pigment. Wooden utensils are used for mixing the colours and the binding medium used is derived from tender coconut water and extracts from the Neem tree  The characters in the murals are coloured according to their characteristics as illustrated in the relevant Hindu mythological scriptures. Spiritual, divine and dharmic characters (satwika) are depicted in shades of green. Those influenced towards power & materialistic wealth (rajasic) are painted in shades of red to golden yellow. Evil, wicked and mean characters (tamasic) are generally painted in white or black.

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