MURAL PAINTINGS OF KARNATAKA
Paintings of Karnataka (ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ
are not as well known as the architectural and sculptural marvels of the
same state. Hubert Knox found some rock engravings and cave paintings in Kigali
of Karnataka. Later in 1915 Leonard
Munn, an English officer was moving about in the forested hill ranges of Hire
Benkalgudda. ( Gangavati taluk., Raichur district, now in Koppal
district) He happened to discover three caves with drawings and monochrome
paintings. They contained line drawings of animals such as deer, pea-cock, bull
and many human beings, with flat paints filled in. These drawings belong to the
early decades of the Christian era. The Ramapura caves near Anegondi have some
crude drawings with out any painting. There is a line drawing of a tiger on a
rock near Ankalagi MaTa of Chitradurga district. Similarly, artists have chosen
other surfaces such as clay pots and vats. A pot belonging to the copper age
found in a village called satti in
There are three
categories of rock art: bruising caused with a stone, engraving with a sharp
stone or metal tool and paintings.
Almost all the paintings of this period are mono chrome. In
we move on to historic period instances of murals are few and far between. The
third of the celebrated caves of Badami dedicated to Vishnu contained a few
paintings modeled on those of Ajantha and Ellora. These were described and
analyzed by art critics such as Thomas Munroe, Bird,
The next stage of mural painting in Karnataka encompasses the Vijayanagara period and the reign of the Bahmani and Adilshahi Sultans. The Jamia mosque and Asar Mahal in Bijapur and a bathing ghat in a near by village called kamatagi contain a few murals painted in the 17th century. Some of the artists hailed from Europe and some more were influenced by that style. Consequently many portraits resemble their European counterparts. The paintings are predominantly blue and most of them are floral decorations. This school is known more for its miniature drawings and drawings made in books rather than murals.
Vijayanagara period constitutes a watershed in the history of murals in Karnataka. Krishnadevaraya who built a mandapam in front of the sanctum of the famous Virupaksha temple embellished it with Vijayanagar style bas releifs and murals. Several of Shiva's manifestations, (Tripurantaka) and the ten incarnations of Vishnu are portrayed here, as is the classic scene from Mahabharata depicting Arjuna's shooting the ‘fish device’ (matsya yantra) in order to secure Draupadi's hand in marriage. There is also a mural depicting Vidyaranya the spiritual leader of Vijayanagar in procession. Most of these paintings have mythological/historical themes, even though the details are contemporary.
Lepakshi in Andhrapradesh is
another repository of Vijayanagar style murals. Lepakshi houses the
Elsewhere in the Lepakshi temple are paintings depicting the incarnations of Vishnu.
The Vijayanagar ruler's patronage extended deep into Tamilnadu and the brilliant murals in the Srirangam temple are yet another feature in the never ending display of art treasures in a vast temple complex that is also a repository of ancient worship traditions. In the innermost circumambulatory passage in the Srirangam temple are 300 year old paintings depicting scenes from the epics.
After the fall of
Vijayanagara Empire the art of murals passed on to
1. www.hindu.com/.../stories/20041022000406400.htm (An article and a few murals)
2. ssubbanna.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/12/the-l... (An article and a number of murals)
4. ssubbanna.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/12/the-l... (An article and many good murals-LEPAKSHI)
of Karnataka’ by B.V.K. Shastry,