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Mural Paintings of Kancipuram

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Item Code: HAN160
Author: Pramila Lochan,
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
Language: English
Edition: 2019
Pages: 259 (Color Illustrations)
Other Details 8.5x7.5 inch
Weight 800 gm
Book Description

The Southern region of the Indian subcontinent is endowed with an enriched visual heritage that has evolved from prehistoric times. It includes some of the finest examples that traverse distinct tangible and intangible art forms. Interestingly, political conflict among local rulers has not deterred cultural continuity in this region. Instead it drew inspiration through multiple stimuli that literature, devotional practices and patronage provided and flourished into a rich cultural matrix that ensconced architecture, sculpture, painting, music, dance, theatre and literature. Among these, mural traditions are incomparable repositories of Indian heritage long preserved in this region. While much focus has often gone into specific sites such as Ajanta, Bagh and other sites of Northern India, study regarding sites in Southern India is comparatively less.


A systematic study of murals is crucial to understanding art and history through art. In addition to yielding insights into the narratives of culture, murals embody information on artistic, societal and cognitive sophistication achieved during the period in question. Murals also lie at the intersection of cultural and intellectual confluences, which inform and shape its expression-making them invaluable sources for research on historicity of a place, tradition and artistic technology afforded.


Tall, soaring magnificent gopuras greet the eye well before one enters the temple town of Kâñcipuram. These ancient wonders of artistic achievement beckon pilgrims to experience the sacred bliss of divine communion. As one nears the town, the gentle tranquility of lush paddy fields on the outskirts gives way to the blaring sound of honking vehicles. The wide temple street that comes to life each morning is a gentle blend of the traditional and the contemporary. Conventional homes on either side, share space with commercial establishments that converge near temple walls. The incense of ritualistic devotion pervades the ambience, bustling with devotees dressed in their silken best. Holding fresh flowers as an offering to God, they visit temple after temple seeking blessings of Kämäksi Amman, Ekambariśvara, Varadaraja Perumal [also popular as the balli (golden lizard) temple] and several others located in various by-lanes. If the mind's eye could erase the present day hustle and bustle for a while, the historicity and epochal value of this temple town can be savoured as much as one seeks.

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