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Mural painting of Kerala: Art of South India

South India is full of colours, diversity and richness in art. Kerala, a south Indian state, stands out with different arts including Kalari payattu, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali and Mural paintings. Mural painting is special type of fresco painting that is usually associated with religious legends and myths. It is group of intricate and exquisite paintings of India that are painted on a permanent surface. So, to know more about this interesting fine art let’s go through Mural painting of Kerala.

# Origin and evolution:

It is very ancient painting art. It was found on pre-historic rocks. Pre-historic rocks having Kerala mural paintings were discovered from Anjanad valley, Idukki. It was originated from Dravidian art of Kalamezhuthu. Its history dates back to 7th or 8th century AD. The oldest mural art was found in Thirunandikkara cave from Kanyakumari district Tamil Nadu. Srikumara’s Silparatna was authentic Sanskrit text written on Kerala mural arts in 16th century that helped the beginners.


# Colour codes and their sources:

It uses only five colours. The specific term used  for five colours is panchvarana. Panchvarana include red, green, yellow, black and white colours. Colours are mainly derived from vegetable and mineral pigments. Colours are obtained from different sources like yellow from yellow laterite, red from red laterite, black from soot, green by mixing extract of leaves of Indian indigo with Eravikkara and white from lime. Coconut water and neem extracts are used as a binder.


# Themes of Kerala mural paintings:

Mural art shows details related to gods and goddesses  painted on the wall. These details are pictorial representation of verses called dhyana shlokas. It depicts natural objects like plants, animals and natural scenery in intriguing manner.


# Main features:

  • Everything used in this painting style is derived from natural resources.
  • It is excellent variety of Dravidian and Pallava painting style.
  • It is exclusively painted on hard and solid objects like walls and ceilings.
  • It is found painted on the walls of temples, palaces and churches.


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