Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making of a Kerala Mural

Kerala mural paintings are frescos (strictly using naturally available materials), depicting mythology and legends,which are drawn on the walls of temples and churches in Kerala. They stand out for their emphasis on beauty, clarity and symmetry.

Preparation of the walls

The walls have to be first prepared before one does the murals. The walls are given a rough plastering with a mixture of lime and sand, the juice of kadukkai or the juice of a creeper called chunnambuvelli and dissolved jaggery. Then a smooth plaster is applied. The ingredients are the same as in the case of the rough plaster, except that at this stage, cotton is ground together with the other ingredients.

After 10 days, 25 to 30 coats of a mixture of quicklime and tender coconut water are applied.  Its features are the lime medium and technique in which the prepared walls are painted only after it gets completely dry.

Five basic colours are used in mural painting — white, yellow, red, green, and black
Preparing the colours

For yellow and red, stones such as laterite are ground and the powder is cleaned to remove impurities. The pigment residue is collected and dried. 

For green, the leaves of neela amari(Indigofera) are dried and powdered. This powder is bluish in colour. Eruvikkara is a herb whose leaves are crushed to get yellow powder. The blue neela amari powder is mixed with the yellow Eruvikkara to get green, the proportion of the two powders being varied to get different shades. 

For black colour wicks are immersed in sesame oil, and then lit. The smoke is collected on the inside of a mud pot. The soot is then carefully scraped out and used where black colour is needed.

The outline is drawn in yellow, and then again in red. The colours are then filled in. Once the painting is finished, the outline is done again in black.


Brushes for painting on the wall are made of the blades of certain types of grass and the roots of some trees. Sharpened bamboo pieces are used to draw the outlines of the murals.

Making of Krishna and Gopis
Sketches are made and yellow is been filledNext comes red

Characters emerge layer by layer,most painstaking process

After yellow is the turn of green,characters come to the forground with green

Then comes blue
The gopis begin to take their places,charming and coequittish and full of life
Finally in life like glory

Making of Ananthasayanam,Lord Vishnu 
Making of Yellow

Yellow central character
Vishnu Emerges

Lakshmi emerges in yellow
Still it is Yellow,All characters in yellow
Supporting characters emerges

Red emerges
Central characters becomes red
Supporting characters gets their share of red

Green is the other colour which emerges
After green comes blue
The outlines are filled with black

Outlines almost done,image done almost
Lord Vishnu in all its glory,a piece of adoration

Image courtesy and
Image,Artist Naveen,Text:A.Menon


  1. what a lovely lovely post!! :) the paintings seem to just come to life!!! Awesome!!

  2. This is awesome... Lakshmi.. have you painted one??? Its simply amazing... I wont lie... I will not even be able to do half ... no no.. 1/4th of this... Its awesome... and such a lovely post...

  3. lovely lovely post......I am so happy after reading thissss

  4. Beautiful Post! Liked the way you showed the life-cycle of this painting :)
    BTW this form of painting is done only on the walls ?

  5. Woderful! have showcased the art form very beautifully!!..thank you for explaining the process and the technique in detail (I am addicted to research my excitement is obvious i guess!!) :)

  6. Amazing!!! to see all of the forms coming to life filled with colors and expression! Simply superb! This is Raw talent...

    There's a friend of ettan...who has studied murals and he has done one in his home. Would take a picture of it wen I go bac home and post it. Its wonderful!!!

    Have a gr8 week!

  7. fantastic pictures yar i just love it .
    thanks a lot to who have created this site

  8. Kerala mural paintings are the frescos depicting mythology and legends, which are drawn on the walls of temples and churches in South India, principally in Kerala.

  9. Great very very informative
    I have been searching in Wikipedia about making of Kerala murals
    Thanks a lot

  10. I put it i the description page of my mom's blog
    Hope you dont mind
    if so plaese mail me

  11. Pls try Indian Institute of Mural Arts, Guruvayur.

    You can meet KU Krishnakumar, I have sent appropriate feeds to him regarding this blog.. he will help you..

  12. This must take forever to make. Sounds much like fresco...

  13. its amazing . i would like to learn kerala mural but i stay at chennai .

  14. Such a wonderful post, it was like seeing the images come alive...


  15. Kerala mural paintings are frescos (strictly using naturally available materials), depicting mythology and legends,which are drawn on the walls of temples and churches in Kerala. They stand out for their emphasis on beauty, clarity and symmetry.You can visit there through bus and you can book Online Bus Ticket also.


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