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Kerala Murals, Mural Paintings, Kerala Mural Artists

Taking into account several murals which are dated: Two painted verses dated 1691 A.D in Pallimanna Siva Temple at Kumbalanad, Trichur, Murals in Sankaranarayana shrine of the Vadakkunatha temple complex at Trichur dated 1731 A.D, the Kerala Murals may be traced back to the seventeenth century and was at its artistic peak till the nineteenth century. The revival of the Bhakti Movement by great literary geniuses like Melapattur Narayanan Bhattatiri (1560-1646) and Putanam Nambudiri (1547-1640) saw the rise of temple arts through their devotional literature. Thus a number of temples sprang up with murals and woodcarvings in various temples on themes like the Puranas, Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This evidence also dates the murals to the mid seventeenth century. Though the evidence of murals is traced back to the post Ajanta period and a number of cave engravings found, there is no doubt that the Kerala Murals flourished between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries.

Simplicity of subjects, technical excellence, thematic presentation, bold but delicate strokes, bright and beautiful colours, idealistic reproduction of humans, animals and trees are what characterize Kerala Murals. Subjects taken out straight from the Puranas or Ramayana or Mahabharata are illustrated highly stylistically and brilliantly. It brings out a certain depth of human feelings of passion and spiritual endeavor. In conception and composition, the murals have attained its highest artistic excellence. The dignified poise of the figures with expression of the faces that is so graceful yet dynamic is an important feature in a Kerala Mural. Every character appears to have their own charm from the beautiful and graceful figures of Gods to the devouring demon. Even a demon in an act of destruction spells out charm and whose activity is appreciated and admired thus displaying an artistic skill and brilliance.

Hoysala Art is far from the Kerala murals in terms of technique and style but with regards to ornamentation of the figures, it follows more or less a similar style. Over ornamentation of figures is what brings Kerala Murals and Hoysala Art together. Both male and female figures are heavily jeweled and beaded. The colours are bright and vibrant.