Archive for the Category » Indian art and Hindu Philosophy «

Mural Paintings of Kerala

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 | Author:

kerala muralsKerala is also known as ‘Gods Own Country’ because of its charming beauty. One of the most popular tourist destinations in India, Kerala attracts huge numbers of travelers from all over the world. Famous for its land waters, spices, greenery and hospitality, Kerala has also contributed significantly to the world of Indian art. The traditional mural paintings of the state have always attracted art aficionados. These paintings are primarily frescos of the prehistoric era. The murals depict mythology characters and legends of Indian history. One can find many such frescos on the walls of the temples and churches in South India.


Mural paintings of Kerala have contributed greatly to the cultural heritage of the state. No wonder, these paintings have acquired a legendary reputation. The mural paintings took their inspiration from Dravidian art of Kalamezhuthu. As far as origin is concerned, these artworks began their journey during 8th century AD. Not many people know but Kerala is second only to northern state of Rajasthan when it comes to rich collection of archaeologically important mural sites in India. These mural paintings can be categorized into wall paintings. The oldest relics of Kerala’s own style of murals are found in Tirunandikkara cave temple. These murals depict themes of Hindu mythology. Buddhist influence can also be seen on the murals.


Perumkadavil in Thiruvananthapuram, Anjanad Valley of Idukki and Edakkal in Wayanad are shining examples of prehistoric cave paintings. If you are curious about some of the most famous mural paintings of the state then, take a note of these names; Vadakkumnatha Kshetram, Ramayana mural of Mattanchery Place, Gajendra Moksham painting in Krishnapuram palace and Shiva temple in Ettumanoor. Renowned ancient sites having these unique mural paintings in Kerala are, Thruprayar, Padmanabha Swami temple, Ettumanoor,  Kottakkal, Panayannarkavu, Pundareekapuram and Thotteekkalam Lokanarkavu.

Purpose of Art

Sunday, March 21st, 2010 | Author:

Does art serve any purpose or is it just a tool in the hands of wandering minds? The answer is definitely affirmative in favor of the first possibility. Art is a medium through which one indulges in free expression of endless ideas and concepts. The beauty of art manifests itself in several forms like paintings, sculpture, music and literature. The combined power of these forms can alter beliefs, bring about a revolutionary change in behaviors, and fashion collective experiences. Art is something that always draws us towards itself and becomes an integral part of us. Art touches every facet of our lives in countless ways.


So, now we know that apart from providing awareness, joy and pleasure, art also serves many other functions. Talking about its functions, religion will definitely be on the top of the list. You must have visited temples and Sistine chapels and do you remember what do you see there? Prehistoric paintings and sculptures acting as vehicle for religious rituals! Yes, art has always been an integral element of religions. Art is a wonderful tool for expressing different shades of emotions.  Art is a wonderful way to explore formal as well as informal elements of human life.


Art is also a way to communicate with others. It helps in capturing historical moments, events and other crucial events. When it comes to social commentary, there is no powerful medium than art. It can be used to present different viewpoints or even acts a platform for propaganda. Art is useful in making us aware of world scenario and human conditions. One of the best features of artwork is its ability to present a prevalent condition in an entirely different light. That way, one develops different but innovative perspectives about existing situations. The functions of art are truly unlimited.

Marble Sculptures

Sunday, November 15th, 2009 | Author:

goddes-marble-sculpture-250x250One of the most aesthetically beautiful forms of sculptures is Marble sculpture. They have polished looks and appear very intriguing. Marble sculptures have always been admired by art aficionados because of their refined beauty, sophistry and elegance. Marble sculptures are timeless and gives the impression of luxury and aristocracy. One can find these wonderful pieces of art in many parts of India. Marble stones have kept manifesting their beauty in forms of statues, idols and decorative pieces. Marbles are also known as lime stones and sculptures are made from metamorphosed lime stones. Indian marble sculptures are story-tellers of our proud history and great tradition of art and culture. These sculptures are no less than invaluable and are of historical significance. Many such wonderful pieces of art have inspired new generation of artists to create their own imagination. These sculptures are extremely inspiring and you can’t help but feel overawed by their sheer magnificence.


The marble sculptures were made using blocks of marble and tools like chisels, hammers and hand drills. Marble blocks have raw outer surface so to smoothen them, sandpapers and rubbing stones were used. Ever wondered why these structures are still so shining? The credit goes to coats of shiny polishes like tin oxides that bring glow and luster to the sculptures. The best part about marble sculptures is they are very reliable and durable and that explains their extensive us in making figurative works. They are quite easy to use and sculptor’s delight. The culture of marble sculptures is not just restricted to India. Several parts of the world like Italy (Rome), France and England have extensively used marble blocks for beautiful creations. Some of the famous European sculptors were Soudbinine, Bourdelle, Leon Fourquet, Rodin, Victor Peter and Jean Escoula who have gifted us some of the most amazing pieces of art works ever created on the mother earth.


In India, marble sculptures can be seen in the form of religious deities and Idols of Buddha, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lakshmi Devi and Goddess Durga. Who can forget the best piece of marble architecture; The Taj Mahal of Agra? We don’t need to look further than that. In modern age, usage of marble can be seen in furniture, fireplaces, photo frames, vases, medallions, show pieces, tiles and garden sculptures.

Tanjore Art

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 | Author:

India is known for its art and culture. Every corner of India is popular for its unusual form of art. Tanjore Painting is one of the most prominent types of traditional South Indian paintings. It is the indigenous art form of Thanjavur (also known as Tanjore) city of Tamil Nadu. The intense composition, exterior richness and vivacious shades of Indian Thanjavur Paintings differentiate them from the other kinds of paintings. Then, there are accompaniments of precious stones, pearls and glass pieces that supplement and add to their charm. The relief work gives them a three dimensional appearance which is more popularly known as the 3D effect. Tanjore Painting of India was derived in the 16th century, in the sovereignty of the Cholas.

A majority of these paintings rotate around the subject of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, along with saints. The chief figure is always painted at the center of the painting. These paintings are also locally called Palagai Padam where palagai means wooden plank and padam means picture as they paintings are mostly done on solid wood boards.

Tanjore paintings involve a couple of intricate steps. The first step includes the sketching of the introduction sketch of the image on the base. This base is prepared from a cloth, which is glued over a wooden stand. The next step involves the mixing of chalk powder or zinc oxide with water-soluble adhesive and applying it on the base. Thereafter, the drawing is made and ornamented with cut glass, pearls as well as semi-precious stones. Besides, colorful and attractive laces or threads are also used to embellish the painting. To further enhance the outcome, wafer thin sheets of gold are glued on a few portions of the painting, whereas the other portions are painted in vivid colors.

There are a huge number of people who still take interest in learning this form of art adding their contemporary touch to it.

Patachitra Art

Sunday, September 06th, 2009 | Author:

The root of the Patachitra paintings was in the 8th century AD and it is regarded as one of the earliest forms of home-grown paintings. This symbolic form of folk significance is exclusive in the history of Indian and European paintings. The unlikely illustrative ideas, the peculiar conventions, the astonishing arrangement of line patterns and vivacious application of colors make this art form stupendous.

The foundation and growth of Patachitra paintings are associated with the Jagannath Cult. The devotional art of Patachitras is limited to the community of painters called the Chitrakars. The chitrakars reside and perform their inherited art in Puri and in villages on its borders, Raghurajpur and Dandshahi. Every Chitrakar family possesses a family sketchbook handed down from their ancestors. Gods and Goddesses, legends and animals, are all portrayed in these sketchbooks. These books are the chitrakars’ most precious belongings.

The process of arranging the canvas (Pata) is time-consuming, generally taking at least five days. It includes the preparation of a tamarind seed paste, which is mixed with water in a mud pot and focused to additional action. It is called the ‘Niryas Kalpa’. The chitrakar then chooses two pieces of cloth and attaches them together with this paste. Clay powder is then added to the combination and two or three coatings of this blend is applied on to the organized canvas on both the surfaces. When the canvas is dry, it is polished, a process that takes quite a few hours. Painting can begin only when it’s dry.

Patachitras are usually painted in a regular series of steps. The present practice is to put a thick coat of varnish with a cloth. Once the varnish dries, the Patachitra is trimmed down to the attractive margin. The standard painting is finished in a week. But there are complex ones that take maybe even a month.

Indian Wild Life Paintings

Monday, August 31st, 2009 | Author:

India is an extremely rich country in terms of art. One of the fascinating forms of Indian art is concept of wildlife paintings. This concept was given by the Ranthambore School of Art. There is an interesting story behind initiating of this noble venture. Ranthambore School of art had only one purpose at its inception and that was of saving the tigers of the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary. The modus operandi was quite effective as the authorities focused upon recruiting students from neighboring villages and towns. Thereafter, these new students are made aware of dismal plight of fast reducing numbers of Indian tiger. The students are trained to be self-sufficient artists.


You will be surprised to see the effects of these paintings. The students of Ranthambore School of art managed to create awe-inspiring art works. The sketches created are mostly black and white life sized. The technique primarily used is watercolor. Looking at paintings, it seems like you are watching live tigers staring at you from close quarters. Such is the effect of these paintings. What works in favor of the students is the keen observational eye they have. That’s the trick behind aliveness of such paintings. The training methods employed on students is so effective that these artists become extremely skilled at painting the fearful creatures so beautifully.


Wildlife Paintings created by students of Ranthambore School of Art are vivid and strong in imagination. It also gives us a message about imminent extinction of tigers from our map. Having said that, if we soon don’t take any preventive steps to conserve the majestic tigers soon they will just appear in paintings. Wildlife paintings are not only aesthetic but also a strong message to the population about the need of protecting the tigers.

Elephant Painting

Monday, August 10th, 2009 | Author:

elephantElephant paintings have earned great name for themselves. They are not only graceful but also classic. They have received huge appreciation from the art aficionados. Elephant paintings are a school of Art in themselves. We don’t need to go far if we want to witness splendor of elephant paintings. Ganesha paintings and Kotah Paintings are wonderful examples of elephant paintings. Kotah paintings have captured each and every movement of elephant. Kotah paintings have always been known for capturing movements of animals. The most fascinating aspect of kotah artists was they were able to paint elephant in lively form apart from adding strength and massive bulk. Many people find Deccani paintings impressive because of impressive decoration witnessed in them. But Kotah paintings would rather focus more on huge energy of the elephant. Some famous kotah paintings could be seen in form of royals hunting tiger during the 18th century. The said illustrations belong to period of 1720-1870.


Ganesha Paintings are a common phenomenon in almost every Hindu household. The reason is importance of Lord Ganesha in Hindu ritual. Ganesha is an elephant man and yet he looks genial. The Ganesha paintings are not only religious but also aesthetic.


Those who are familiar with Kotah Paintings must have seen Angry Elephant painting. It is one of the most famous Kotah paintings. The material used for the work is charcoal. It shows two might elephants fighting with each other and only one is visible. It also shows, the king watching from the balcony while attendants’ are trying to deter the animal with firecrackers.

Painting Styles in India

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 | Author:

Dance and music are fields where the most delightful styles and sweetest strains fade away before people can understand them, whereas painting holds the sentiments and expressions and retains the impact for a comparatively elongated time-period. Painting is basically a blend of lines, forms, colors, tones, textures and spaces. It makes an attempt to communicate the verbal and non-verbal terminologies with the strokes of the paint brush.

Painting styles are different from area to area, and from phase to phase. From ancient times to the era of evolution, painting has been the illustrative certification of man’s beliefs, and experiences. It has been demonstrated on the walls of the caves like the elephant caves, the Ajanta caves and the Bhimbetka caves, temples like the Brihadisvari temple and the Mukteshvara temple, and palaces like the very famous Taj Mahal, or dried leaved and cloth in the form of phadas, patachitras and coverlets.
Displayed manuscripts on palm leaf folios in the medieval period were then substituted by paper. The paintings of any given province and era, offers a peek into the intellectual and cultural awareness of the inhabitants who accomplished them. The techniques are influenced by the local customs and cross-cultural relations.
Besides all the other factors, the exceptional geographical positioning of India played a vital part in the blossoming of the diverse provincial techniques. The vivid and vibrant painting traditions, which built up, like the murals and wall paintings, Chaurapanchasika art(CPS Group), miniatures, scroll art, madhubani art, lepakshi art, etc added to the rich and diverse cultural inheritance of India. This also formed the base of succeeding genres. Cultural paintings bring to you the various painting techniques from the wealth trove of India. They have their distinctive painting style, regional and episodic individuality. The art field has brought a lot of international recognition to India and Indian artists from the traditional times to the contemporary times.

Stone Work

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 | Author:

image10India is blessed with numerous stone monuments in all parts of the country. The stone structures of India are known for magnificent architecture and sublime grandeur. These sculptures are bestowed with perfect architecture. In fact, both sculpture and architecture deserve great study and cannot be put together. During ancient times, many temples were built in major parts of India. The tradition of stone carving is very much focused around these temples. The class of stone work can be seen in variety of stones used by the artists. From hard granite, soft-brittle sandstone to patchy red stone, Indian craftsmen carved several amazing art works. We need not go too far to witness the grandeur of such work. Look at the state of Orissa. It has famous temples and sculptures at Puri, Bhuvaneshwar and Konark. One look at the expression of deities, poses of epic heroes’ ad fine detailing of ornaments and one will understand the true essence of stone work.


Famous examples of Indian stone work can be found in places like Ajanta and Ellora, Mahabalipuram, Kanyakumari, Khajuraho, Thanjavur, Sanchi and Tiruchirapalli. The architectural facades and amazing sculptures truly manifest inherent class of stone work. The beautiful rock cut caves of Ajanta are sheer delight to the senses. South India state of Tamil Nadu is famous for its temples. All these temples are unparallel when it comes to stone work used in them.


Similarly if we go to northern state of Himachal Pradesh, there is one beautiful depiction of stone carving tradition in Kangra district. The rock cut temple at Masrur has this giant monolithic carving. Mughal era is also famous for its beautiful architectural gift. Example like Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb near Agra has beautiful marble work. Jaipur is also famous for its splendid stone work. Stone work in India is surely a magnificent art and a great gift to the human civilization.

Francis Newton Souza

Saturday, July 18th, 2009 | Author:

Francis Newton Souza was born on 12 April 1924, in Saligao, Goa. Francis Newton Souza was a renowned Indian painter of his time. Francis Newton Souza studied at Sir JJ School of Art in the city of Mumbai. However, he was later suspended because he uncompromisingly supported the Quit India movement in 1945.

Francis Newton Souza was the one to set up the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group. The motto of this group was to inculcate confidence and increase the morale of the follow artists. The main objective was to encourage Indian artists to participate in the international avant-garde. But, after India achieved freedom from the British rule, FN Souza moved base to London, United Kingdom. His work was included by the Institute of Contemporary Art in a 1954 display. Soon after this, many other exhibitions followed.

His talents in the literary field also helped to boost his career. His autobiographical work Nirvana of a Maggot was published in the journal called Encounter. Encounter was then edited by Stephen Spender. Also, another add on to his literary reputation was his book Words and Lines which was published in 1959.

Francis Newton Souza’s career built up progressively. He took part in a number of exhibitions and shows. John Berger also acclaimed him positively. John Berger mentioned that Souza’s style was purposely assorted, essentially Expressionist in character, but also drawing on the post-war Art Brut movement and elements of British Neo-romanticism.

Souza settled in New York in 1967. He returned to India a little time before his death. His funeral took place on March 30 at a graveyard in Sewri, India.
A self styled painting by Souza was displayed in Feb 2009 at the BBC Antiques Road show. Souza was the first Indian artist to gain international recognition and represent India on a global level.