Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:57 AM
With the decline of the power of the Vijayanagara memperors after the battle of Tallikota, the feudatory rulers established themselves in independence with only a semblance of respect for the titular emperor. At Madurai, Tirumala Nayak is reputed for his great patronage of art, and the magnificent gopura and pudumandapa constructed by him are famous. Similarly, in Tanjavur and Kumbakonam, Raghunatha Nayak of Tanjavur was responsible for excellent monumental work. The temples of Minakshisundaresvara and Alagar at Madurai, those of Tenkasi, Sankaranarayanarkoil, Perur and other places are excellent examples of Nayak workmanship.
In the upper layer from the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjavur covering the Chola one, there is a wealth of Nayak painting particularly interesting from the point of view of the glimpse it gives of life in the period with all the elaboration of costume, ornamentation and other details, all easily gathered from this important and elaborate series.
At Tiruparuttikunram and at Kanchipuram, the Jain legends illustrating the lives of the Tirthankaras are portrayed with greater vigour and here also the life of the period is very clearly depicted.
At Tiruvalur, the lilas of Siva are represented on the ceiling of the mandapas in picturesque fashion with special stress on the monkey-faced mythical king Muchukunda of the royal Chola family; and, as legend would have it, it is he who brought the Sivalinga enshrined at Tiruvalur as also the Somaskanda. The latter is amongst the most famous early Chola bronzes.
In Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvottiyur, Tiruvalanjuli and other places, there are similar representations of legends of Siva and scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
At Chidambaram in the large andapa of the shrine of Sivakamasundari, there is a magnificent series of paintings illustrating the story of Bhikshatana and Mohini, the legends of Salva saints and the glory of Siva's dance.
The Nayak period is also represented by several murals from Madurai here the sixty-four lilas of Siva are epicted in picturesque panels narrating the story graphically but many of them have been repainted and ruined.
There are labels in Tamil or Telugu describing the themes of these paintings. In this period, the nventionalization that set in during the Vijayanagara period is continued. This stylisation, as already observed in sculpture, like the pointed nose, fierce eyes, angular contours, limbs and so forth and peculiar arrangement of garments on the body with patterns characteristic of the period, are all observed in these paintings.
Writer - C. Sivaramamurti