Later Mural Traditions

Download PDF of This Page (Size: 122K)

Badami

  • The State of Karnataka.

  • Badami was the capital of the western Chalukyan dynasty which ruled the region from 543 to 598 CE.

  • With the decline of the Vakataka rule, the Chalukyas established their power in the Deccan.

  • The Chalukya king, Mangalesha, patronised the excavation of the Badami caves.

  • He was the younger son of the Chalukya king, Pulakesi I, and the brother of Kirtivarman I.

  • The inscription in Cave No.4 mentions the date 578–579 CE, describes the beauty of the cave and includes the dedication of the image of Vishnu.

  • The cave was excavated in the same era and the patron records his Vaishnava affiliation.

  • Popularly known as the Vishnu Cave.

  • Only a fragment of the painting has survived on the vaulted roof of the front mandapa.

  • Paintings in this cave depict palace scenes.

  • One shows Kirtivarman, the son of Pulakesi I and the elder brother of Mangalesha, seated inside the palace with his wife and feudatories watching a dance scene.

  • Towards the corner of the panel are figures of Indra and his retinue.

  • Stylistically speaking, the painting represents an extension of the tradition of mural painting from Ajanta to Badami in South India.

  • The sinuously drawn lines, fluid forms and compact composition exemplify the proficiency and maturity the artists had achieved in the sixth century CE.

  • The gracefully drawn faces of the king and the queen remind us of the style of modelling in Ajanta.

  • Their eye- sockets are large, eyes are half-closed, and lips are protruding.

  • Murals under the Pallava, Pandava and Chola Kings

  • The tradition of painting extended further down south in Tamil Nadu in the preceding centuries with regional variations during the regimes of Pallava, Pandya and Chola dynasties.

  • The Pallava kings who succeeded the Chalukya kings in parts of South India, were also patrons of arts.

  • Mahendra varma I who ruled in the seventh century was responsible for building temples at Panamalai, Mandagapattu and Kanchipuram.

  • The inscription at Mandagapattu mentions Mahendravarman I with numerous titles such as Vichitrachitta (curious-minded), Chitrakarapuli (tiger among artists), Chaityakari (temple builder), which show his interest in art activities.

  • The paintings in these temples too were done at his initiative, though only fragments remain.

  • The Panamalai figure of a female divinity is drawn gracefully.

  • Paintings at the Kanchipuram temple were patronised by the Pallava king, Rajsimha.

  • Only traces of paintings remain now which depict Somaskanda. Faces are round and large.

  • Lines are rhythmic with increased ornamentation when compared with the paintings of an earlier periods.

  • Depiction of torso still remains like the earlier sculptural tradition but is elongated.

  • When the Pandyas rose to power, they too patronised art.

  • Tirumalaipuram caves and Jaina caves at Sittanvasal are some of the surviving examples.

  • A few fragmented layers of paintings can be seen in Tirumalaipuram. In Sittanvasal, the paintings are visible on the ceilings of shrines, in verandas, and on the brackets.

  • On the pillars of the veranda are seen dancing figures of celestial nymphs.

  • The contours of figures are firmly drawn and painted in vermilion red on a lighter background.

  • Supple limbs, expression on the faces of dancers, rhythm in their swaying movement, all speak of the artists’ skill in creative imagination in visualising the forms in the architectural context.

  • Their eyes are slightly elongated and at times protrude off the face.

  • Many subsequent paintings in the Deccan and South India.

  • The tradition of building temples and embellishing them with carvings and paintings continued during the reign of the Chola kings who ruled over the region from the ninth to the thirteenth century.

  • In the eleventh century, when the Cholas reached their zenith of power, that masterpieces of Chola art and architecture began to appear.

  • The temples of Brihadeswara at Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram were built during the reigns of Rajaraja Chola and his son, Rajendra Chola.

  • Though Chola paintings are seen in Nartamalai, the most important are those in Brihadeswara temple.

  • The paintings were executed on the walls of the narrow passage surrounding the shrine.

  • Two layers of paint were found when they were discovered.

  • The upper layer was painted during the Nayak period, in the sixteenth century.

  • The paintings show narrations and aspects related to Lord Shiva, Shiva in Kailash, Shiva as Tripurantaka, Shiva as Nataraja, a portrait of the patron Rajaraja and his mentor Kuruvar, dancing figures, etc.