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Posts Tagged ‘maniam’

We were overjoyed with the overwhelming response we received for our attempt to recreate the Pallava Somaskandar Paintings in Kanchi Kailasanathar temple which we carried as three parts - part 1, part 2 and part 3. Thanks to the stupendous work of Smt Subhashini Balasubramanian for whom art flows in the blood, coming in the line of legendary artists Sri Maniam and Sri Maniam Selvan, we proceed to attempt another difficult project.

It was in 2009, when we led a team of Ponniyin Selvan enthusiasts up the small hillock near Sengi - Panamalai.

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To catch sight of the brilliance of Sri Rajasimha Pallava’s stupendous creation - The Panamalai Talagirisvara temple.

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There is something about the graceful symmetry of Rajasimha’s Vimana’s that give them a lasting allure.

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But this one contained something more exquisite inside it. We have already seen how the great connoisseur King, had embellished his entire creation from wall to wall with stunning works of art - yes, every inch would have been painted, in the Kanchi kailsanathar temple - Panamalai was also similarly jewelled - with art. But sadly, only a few remain. But you will see, how even a single brush stroke of the Pallava artist has an unique brilliance in it.

There are hardly any remnants of the art work in the main Sanctum or Vimana, however, as you move around, just on the right side of the Vimana - there is, at a height of about 4 feet, a Sanctum, having a Shiva Linga. There are no steps and you have to brave the climb, for it holds the treasure.

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Do not be fooled by the first casual glance, for the inside walls of this shrine hold possibly the most beautiful of maidens in all of land south of the Vindyas.

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There is more to be seen, but we start with her today.

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The Pride of Panamalai - Umai. She reveals herself to you, as you go near and words fail to even form, as the sensory overload stuns you.

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Despite the ravages of time and human neglect, the perfection of the lines, the mastery over color, form, shade and the effects which their confluence create, the emotion that they bring out in so lithe a form.

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Much of the plaster had fallen off and what remained of the background was tough to decipher, except for the colorful Umbrella. For eg, the outline seemed to resemble a typical Pallava cave pillar ( to her left)

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You would have noticed that Umai is on the right wall, the main back wall too has very faint lines.

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On closer study, we realised that it was Shiva dancing his triumphant Alidhanrita dance after destroying the three cities ( Tripurantaka). We will try and see more in a subsequent post, but why we need to know that , is because a similar composition of Rajasimha exists in Kanchi Kailasanthar, not in paint but in Stone.

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Here too, we see Umai or Tirupurantaki in a similar ( slightly different) posture

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Armed with this knowledge, would it be possible for us to recreate this lost painting and try to show her in all her glory. Well, we let you judge. Over to Subhashini

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The colors and texture being worked upon.

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Its important to mention here that as with the previous attempt where we got help from Jagadeesh, this time, we got help from another unexpected quarters. For quite sometime, there were very few images of Panamalai on the net and the best were those of Mr Franck RONDOT. I wrote to him explaining our intentions with samples of the previous attempt and he readily sent us his original pictures. They are of immense value to us both for this and also our future attempt for the Alidhanrita, since his were taken many years back and could have more of the original lines and colors !

Our thanks also to PSVP team of Saurabh, Shaswath, Shriram and many others for making the trip and sharing their pictures.

and we start with here

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To be continued..

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The lure of the recreating the lost treasures of Rajasimha’s famed paintings has been on my drawing board for long. Having experienced the sheer ecstasy of seeing the fragments of brilliance that are still remaining, my heart wept with a strange mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy at knowing that the pinnacle of artistic talent that my land had 1300 years ago, that he could still take my breath away - albeit only in traces, the grace of his lines, the versatility of his palette, the excellence of form , stumped me. Sorrow at the realisation, that having survived for so long, the day that these would not be there anymore to inspire and impress a future generation, was not far away.

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Modern photography techniques and the net, could help me to a certain extent, to at least capture these for posterity, but then there was always a niggle, a silent wish to be able to see these beauties in their original finery. My imagination helped in painting them in my mind, but to be able to transfer this onto the physical plane, needed greater acumen. My early attempts are tracing them, using manual tracing paper and online trace software, proved that this was not a task for technologically empowered, but for someone who had it in the genes.

Call it luck and chance, or maybe an inner desire of these beauties to be recast and re adored - a causal visit to a Art exhibition, of friends from Facebook, led to an introduction to none other than the clan of Sri Maniam. yes, the master who illustrated Kalki’s immortal works,Immortal works , whose Son Sri Maniam Selvan has continued in his tradition, - his works ,but it was not he, but the granddaughters of the great man. The fertile minds of the master has indeed spawned a second generation of divine artists ! So, i did get to meet Mrs. Subhashini Balasubramanian . We talked about Kalki, his works and obviously about art. Being the greedy guy that I am, I immediately sought her help on the long standing wish, and she readily agreed. We decided to start with the Somaskanda Panels of Kanchi Kailasanthar temple.

The task was not easy, but we didn’t know that fate and destiny had in store for us. The paintings are in really bad state and we had to form a collage of about 4 different works, to compare and pick out missing details. Unfortunately, despite my claims of having a large database, i could not get decent quality / resolution of these paintings. A frenetic search with friends and well wishers didn’t yield the desired results either.

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We had to work with what we had in hand, putting together the bits and pieces. Just as i was loosing heart,I got the first cut from Subhasini…

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I was clean bowled by the clarity in the work and the inherent beauty in the form. Clearly, the genes have gotten to work and I knew that my objective was not a distant dream but a definite reality. We were working for a week on the details, but the problem of obtaining high resolution photos for closer study loomed large. Just then, a mail arrives from a school boy. He had chatted with me sometime in May through sculpture chat on the site, …he was from vellore and was waiting for his ICSE X std results. The mail reads

“You are invited to view prithviraj’s photo album: kanc
Hello anna! Do you remember me? Am Rajakesari. I would like to share some photographs i took in Kanchipuram with u. I would be happy if these photos will be useful to you.”

And inside we see the exact photos which we wanted, the exact angles and he sent me the high resolution images as well. What a coincidence !! I can see you asking me, why all this about high resolution images, well you will understand as we see the recreation process.

Here is our Hero, Jagadesh, studying 11th Std now in Vellore.

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The art of the Pallavas, so superbly nurtured by Rajasimha Pallava, finds release through the lens of a 11std Boy today and feeds our aspirations to recreate them.

Brahma

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Umai

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Vishnu

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The need for high resolution images, comes to the fore as we explore the numerous highlights and new motiffs and features come to the fore. This Gana and lady attendant are spotted.

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We try and experiment with Lion motifs for the legs of the throne - like the ones we saw in the Mallai Mahishasuramardhini Mandabam

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To come up with the next versions of the sketch.

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Its shaping up quite well, but you have to wait for the next part of this post to see more !!

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