Colours of devotion
A mural depicting the `Thrippadidanam' was completed at Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple recently.
PHOTO: S. GOPAKUMAR
STROKE OF LUCK: Pappan considers it a blessing to have been chosen to paint a mural on the Thrippadidanam.
On Wednesday, January 3, 1750, Maharaja Marthanda Varma dedicated his newly expanded State of Travancore to his tutelary deity Sree Padmanabha Swamy. Marthanda Varma performed this act of dedication called `Thrippadidanam,' by laying the sword of the State on the step of the `Garbha Griha' (sanctum sanctorum) of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvanthapuram, thus giving up all his claims and rights to the State of Travancore. Thereafter, the king and his successors ruled as the dasas of the Lord.
The `Thrippadidanam' has now been portrayed in a mural in a special hall in the temple. Says the artist Pappan, "I consider it a blessing that I was able to draw this mural. The deities worshipped by the last ruler of erstwhile Travancore, Chitira Tirunal, have been kept in this hall."
Pappan was commissioned by Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore to recreate a mural of the `Thrippadidanam.'
It took him six months to complete the work and the final touches were done last week.
A royal request
"There was a painting by Ravi Varma on the `Thrippadidanam.' Uthradom Tirunal gave me a photograph of the painting and at each stage he evinced keen interest in the work. Last week, at his behest, I repainted the gold border (kasava kara) of the dhothi worn by the king and made it a black puliyarakara one," says Pappan.
Says K.U. Krishnakumar, Principal and Chief Art Instructor of the Gurvayur Devaswom Institute of Mural Painting at Guruvayur, "Kerala Mural art has attained its highest artistic excellence and is characterised by its simplicity of subjects, technical excellence, thematic presentation, bold but delicate strokes, heavy flow of lines, bright and beautiful colours and idealistic reproduction of humans, animals and trees."
He adds that the traditional Kerala mural paintings are done only in five colours (`Panchavarna') namely, yellow, red, green, blue and black, and the white colour is the base which is prepared with lime.
The colours used to draw the Kerala murals is prepared from mineral pigments and vegetables.
Pappan learnt the art of mural painting under the artist Mammiyur Krishnankutty Nair who came to renovate the 800-year-old Shree Padmanbhaswamy temple paintings along with his students from the Institute of Mural Painting at Guruvayur Devaswom, 10 years ago.
Besides `Garuda,' his first mural during the `Utsava Kodiyettam,' Pappan also has to his credit `Ananthashayam,' which is the only painting at Sabarimala Sannidhanam. Elaborating on his latest work, Pappan says that the 7 x 5 mural has been painted in the traditional five natural colours, yellowish saffron from yellow saffron stone, reddish saffron from the red saffron stone, green (from the eravikkara plant and indigo), blue (from indigo) and black (from the soot of oil lamps).
He explains that the murals can be drawn only after the walls are plastered with certain special preparations comprising quick lime, sand cotton, coconut milk and so on. The murals are drawn with the help of a brush made of the sticks of `Iyyampullu' boiled in milk and dried in the shade. "The wall preparation is an elaborate process and on the specially prepared wall the picture is drawn first in line and colours are filled in," he explains.
Acknowledgement: Uthradom Tirunal
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