Monday, April 4, 2016

Sriman Narayana - Kerala mural painting

SrimanNarayana श्रीमन् नारायण !

Here's a painting of SrimanNarayana in traditional kerala mural painting style - keralIya sOpAna chitrakalA shaili (केरलीय सोपानचित्रकला)

A painting of Srimannarayana surrounded by devathas, rushis, bhaktas and bhagavathas

Few aspects of the traditional Indian art system is documented here with this art as an example.
  • Art begins on a auspicious day - this one began on shravana-dwadashi on 6th March 2016.
  • Started by contemplating the deity of Sriman Narayana - Vishnu - with following dhyana sloka

    सशङ्खचक्रं सकिरीटकुण्डलं सपीतवस्त्रं सरसीरुहेक्षणम् । सहारवक्षःस्थलशोभिकौस्तुभं नमामि विष्णुं शिरसा चतुर्भुजम् ।।
  • The murthy is sketched with shanka, chakra, gadhaa and padma in four hands resembling the guruvAtapurESha also known as guruvayurappan
  • The basic sketch is sketched in navatAla(नवताल) proportions.
    (similar to 8 head proportion for humans,
    this 9 head proportion is prescribed for uttama purusha & god in shilpa shashtrams)

Initial rough sketch on 6th March 2016 -
श्रवणनक्षत्रम्(विष्णुनक्षत्र) - द्वदशीतिथि
  • Usually ancient paintings have other devathas surrounding the central diety.
    So wanted to try something similar around this vishnu.

    यं ब्रह्मा वरुणेन्द्ररुद्रमरुत: स्तुन्वन्ति दिव्यै: स्तवै- र्वेदै: साङ्गपदक्रमोपनिषदैर्गायन्ति यं सामगा:।
    ध्यानावस्थिततद्गतेन मनसा पश्यन्ति यं योगिनो- यस्तानं न विदु: सुरासुरगणा देवाय तस्मै नम:।।

    Namaskaram to that God is worshiped by Brahma, Varuna, Indra, Rudra, and the Maruts, 
    who is praised with divine hymns, Vedas with their Angas and in the Pada and Krama methods and by the Upanishads whom the Sama-chanters sing, whom Yogis see with their minds absorbed in Him through meditation, and whose end the Devas and Asuras know not.
Added more devathas around vishnu
  • Subsequently, added rushis around - viz nArada & thumburu and shuka & vyAsa
  • Was listening to "endarO mahAnubhAvulu-andariki vandanamulu" - kriti by Tyagaraja
    Decided to add more bhAgavathAs = bhagavad-bhaktas into the scene
  • Thus came prahlāda, dhruva, kuchela, gajendra, garuda, hanuman, gopikas, the cows and calves, the squirrel which performed its little mite in service of SriRama, etc

Completed the sketch with final details - and start of painting
  • In sOpAna chitrakala, the colors are applied in coats  yellow, red, green, blue, black  - in order
First coat of yellow color
Red and great coat

finally blue :)
  • The skin tones, proportions, expressions, etc of these characters describe the qualities which are beyond the retinal perception. This is one of the core aspects of stylistic indian art.
    For us, art is something which elevates us beyond this material perception!
  • The qualities of the character which the artist(kalAkAra) perceives is coded into the art using this framework.
    (It is more like the swara-system of the vEdas - with which the bhAva of mantra as seen by the mantra drashtas is captured)

black outline starting
  • This process of sketching and painting took around 28 days for me (since i'm doing this part time), and again on a shravana nakshatra, but this time with ekadashi tithi, on 3rd April 2016, the painting is completed by his grace.
  • Completion of the paitning is done by drawing the eyes of the main deity.
    It is called "nEthrOnmIlanam" - which literally means to "open the eyes"
    Traditionally this is done by the teacher.
    In my case I sought teacher's permission & did it myself.
  • Here's a video of my teacher doing the same to a similar painting

finished painting - 3rd April 2016
References :
  • paintings from north kerala temples,
  • paintings from mattancherry palace, 
  • paintings of my teacher sasi edawarad,
  • vishnunidhi-shritatvanidhi, vishnukosha, 
  • knowledge which has been passed on by the rushi parampara..
Comments and feedback are welcome.

॥ सर्वं श्री कृष्णार्पणमस्तु ॥