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The Wall Paintings of Kerala: Mattancherry, Padmanabhapuram and Krishnapuram Palaces

Usha Bhatia (Editor)
Synopsis The beginning of mural painting in Kerala is still in obscurity and it is not known when these paintings found a place in these temples. An architectural survey of Kerala has listed some important temples embellished with murals, spread over the length and breadth of the state but this list is not very exhaustive. However, it gives a glimpse of the rich treasures of Kerala so far and traditional wall paintings are concerned. The Kerala mural paintings generally portray life size characters and they depict scenes from epics and puranas, particularly the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The episodes selected for these paintings are mostly depicted on the outer walls of the sreekovil, walls of gopura and nalambalam, the reason being that they easily catch the attention of devotees. The paintings differ in each temple as their themes depend on incidents and anecdotes which evolve around the principal deity installed in a temple. Apart from temples there are number of palaces which are profusely decorated with murals and the most important amongst them are Mattancherry, Padmanabhapuram and Krishnapuram Palaces. Generally the talents of artists are exquisitely executed in these mural paintings. The themes of these paintings in Kerala are based on puranic legends and they evoke bhakthi, besides being masterpieces of the traditional art. In the early texts there are references to chitrasala and the earliest passages occur in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, wherein three types of chitrasalas are referred to, viz., the palaces, the public art galleries and private houses. The paintings at Mattancherry Palace belong to the first category.
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About the author

Usha Bhatia

Being the editor of the National Lalit Kala Akademi from 1980 to 2006, Usha Bhatia carried out the editorial responsibilities and edited number of publications which included journals, books, monographs and portfolio series. She contributed by writing text of some of these publications. After finishing her term at the Akademi, she joined the Harmony Art Foundation where she is working as the Research Director.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Wall Paintings of Kerala: Mattancherry, Padmanabhapuram and Krishnapuram Palaces
Author Usha Bhatia
Format Softcover
Date published: 01.01.2006
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Lalit Kala Akademi
Language: English
isbn 8187507241
length iv+10 Plates; Figures; 45cm.