Temple Mural Paintings of Tamilnadu, India


Our aim in making these pages online is to represent and illustrate work that involves many people, organisations and locations, and the scope of the work, covered under what we call “Nayaka* Painting Archival Project”.

The actual size of the mural featured above is 17’ x 6.7’. It was photographed in 39 parts and digitally stitched for museum quality reproduction at actual size of 61200 pixels x 24000 pixels at 300 dpi. You are seeing it at a pixel dimension of 630 x 250, medium quality jpeg, 72 dpi. The black gap in the painting is a wooden pillar against the wall. The pillar is left out of the digital stitch.

This mural is in the first tier of a temple tower of five tiers with 30 such walls in all, in a tiny village in the far south called Tiruppuṭaimarutūr in Thirunelveli District, Tamilnadu. A digitally reconstructed line drawing is annotated section by section in the following pages.

Murals like these are found on the walls and ceilings of many temples all over India, though our work is confined to the state borders of Tamilnadu.

In Phase 1 of this project, we completed the digital capture of close to 25000 square feet of murals from 11 temples, from out of a total of 135 temples that were surveyed, over a period of 2 years.

Our ultimate aim is to create from our digital asset an online repository of intelligible, annotated and stitched images, as well as to explore artistic idioms and forms of expression related in one way or other to mural paintings.

August 2006

* The term Nāyakā - also Naayakaa, Nayak, Naik - refers to kings and chieftains who ruled much of South India for about 300 years between 16th and 18th centuries CE. For this reason, this period of South Indian history is called the Nāyakā period. Historians also call it the post Vijayanagarā period, after the Vijayanagarā empire in northern Karnataka of Krishna Dēva Rāyā. The Nāyakās were originally provincial heads of the vast Vijayanagarā empire. After it fell to the invading Mughals from the north of India, these provincial heads became kings in their own right.

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