Recreating a lost treasure – Somaskanda Paintings of Kanchi Kailasanatha – Part 2

Its so nice to receive such wonderful feedback from all readers, believe me it was as interesting and thoroughly enjoyable to me and the artist Mrs. Subhashini Balasubrmanian, as it has been to you, to finally be able to fulfill a long pending and cherish dream, of seeing this beautiful panel in one piece. But then, we wanted to share with you the journey of our recreation process, so that you also learn want we learn’t working on this assignment.

Thankfully, a lot of finer detail was made available to us by Jagadeesh’s high resolution photos of the four remaining panels of the Kanchi Kailasantha Somaskanda Pantings. We once again thank him for his timely support.

Having done the general composition of the panel, we returned to study the panels at more depth to figure out the gana and the attendant. The Gana was tough, as only a part of his face was available in one of the panels, so we had to do the rest from a bit of artistic license.

The lady attendant and the details of the beautiful saree pattern of Umai came to us from the panel.

The next was the question of the pitcher or vase, though not there in any of panels – for all the panels have peeled off – we do not have any reference to this portion in the panels, people following the thread on Somaskanda Evolution would have found the small pitcher being a permanent feature in all of Rajasimha’s Somaskanda Panels. Take for example this somaskanda from the Mallai shore temple, though the gana and attendant are not there for sure, we do get to see this prominent pitcher / vase.

So, the vase finds its place in our recreation as well.

The next ofcourse was Brahma. Only one of the panels, has a outline of Brahma.

Depending on this, showing the side faces of Brahma was a bit tricky. So we decided to take inspiration from the splendor of Pullamangai temple.

and fashioned our Brahma. ( the lower hands must be changed to anjali – praying posture – we should do it soon)

Thankfully, Vishnu was pretty straight forward with one of the panel surviving completely giving us a shot at the magnificence of the Pallava artist.

So the next question before us was Skanda.

We needed to get upclose to see if we could spot the features of baby Skanda, it was very important, for isn’t he the most beautiful of Gods and imagine his as a small baby.

While, we were looking at the closeups, we realised that the Throne did not have lion motifs as had envisioned them, but were just decorative patterns.

Now, to get Umai’s face, headdress and posture correct.

Shiva, was especially tough, the toughest being the Hand mudras, ( we were helped by a small note – but we will see that in the concluding part of this series). Take for eg, his upper right hand.

The Makuda of Shiva, was especially tough one, as we wanted to get as close as possible to the original.

There was this particular design on the head dress, that was very vaguely familiar, but searching for it in sculpture and paintings, finally stuck pay dirt in Dr R. Nagasamy sir’s Masterpieces of South Indian Bronzes. This Pallava bronze, had a very unique twin makara clasps.

So,we could add that authentic detail into our sketch as well.

and here we have arrived at a basic prototype, to further iterate and work on adding embellishments.

I am sure, all of your are eager to see the finished color version, but that will be in the third and concluding part of this series.

18 thoughts on “Recreating a lost treasure – Somaskanda Paintings of Kanchi Kailasanatha – Part 2

  1. ஆஹா! ஓவியம் ஒவ்வொரு பகுதியாக உயிர் பெற்று வருவது மிக அருமை! முழுமையான ஓவியத்தை விரைவில் காண விழைகிறோம்.

  2. அசாத்தியமான ஞாபகத் திறனும், அருமையான ஓவியக்கலையும் கைகோர்த்து நடத்தும் புனரமைப்புப்பணி. நன்றி தங்கள் அனைவருக்கும்.

  3. Absolutely wonderful.. esp the eye for detail.. its such a pity that when most people go to temples, they dont even know or even notice these treasures… u are doing an amazing job, making us aware of them!

  4. nice to see painting coming to life but vishnu&umai r looking to their left but in re-creation they r looking straight Is it by design I am eagerly waiting for u r next post

  5. Astounding sketches! if the sketch is so life-like, one cant imagine how the colored will be. And how the original would have been! Thanks for bringing the masterpiece to life.

  6. dear Kaliya perumal, its a testament to the skill and knowledge that his work survives to this day – if only they were cared for better, they could have remained in their pristine state


  7. It is amazing to read and see how life and energy is brought into a 1300 year old painting. Great job! Kudos for the noble work.

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