Recreating a lost treasure – Somaskanda Paintings of Kanchi Kailasanatha – Part 3

Its been an amazing journey taking our readers through the last couple of posts, as we are treated to ring side seats to this delightful recreation of a lost pallava painting, from the Kanchi Kailasantha temple of Sri Rajasimha Pallava ( 700 CE !!), moving with the artist stage by stage.

We had started of by blocking in most of what we could salvage from the surviving pieces and started working on filling the finer details. The main hero of this panel comes up now. Shiva.

Next Umai, takes form.

Working on the divine mother a bit more. We notice that she is wearing a thin yellowish blouse or has applied turmeric on her upper torso.

The coloring starts now, with very light skin tones.

Shiva gets his color including his famous Neelakanta !

Umai matches her beloved now.

Lets see how they both pair up.

Its coming up quite well. lets add more color and fill in the details of Shiva’s Keyuras ( arm bands)

The bottom ganas and stands get colored up.

and as we approach the final stages of the composition, time for a quick stock taking. Have we missed any detail.

We forgot to correct the hands of Brahma, to be in the anjali pose.

This is where we go back to the origins of this study on Somaskanda evolution – the 1971 article of Dr Gift Siromoney.

“Of Siva’s four arms, his lower right arm is extended horizontally to the side with his hand in the position of holding something, such as a flower, though no object is actually shown. With his upper right hand he holds a snake by its tail. His lower left hand is in the ardha-dhyana mudra. His upper left hand is near his shoulder as though holding a rosary or akshamala. Siva’s left leg is down.”

This is ofcourse his reference to the early pre Rajasimha Style somaskanda sculptures. But there is no reference to the snake in the Rajasimha style Somaskanda. But his pointer made us search for the snake in more detail.

Do we see something in the lower right hand?

Do you see the raised hood of a beautiful Cobra. We incorporate it into ours.

and without further delay, with many thanks to the artist Mrs. Subhashini Balasubramanian and our young photographer jagadeesh, we have our recreation of the 8th Century lost wonder.

We hope you all enjoyed this attempt ( any mistakes are purely unintentional and we are open to comments)

33 thoughts on “Recreating a lost treasure – Somaskanda Paintings of Kanchi Kailasanatha – Part 3

  1. ஆஹா! உண்மையிலேயே தாங்களும் திருமதி சுபாஷினி அவர்களும் பல்லவர் கால ஓவியத்திற்கு உயிரளித்து விட்டீர்கள். ஓவியத்திலிருந்து கண்களை விலக்க முடியவில்லை, அத்துணை அழகு! மிக உயர்ந்த முயற்சி, அருமையான பலன்! மிக்க நன்றி.

  2. Thank you very much for your support. I really enjoyed working with mr.vijay during the process. I am so amazed by the way he has written about each and every development that makes me relive the whole sequence again. Looking forward to doing more of such work. 🙂

  3. ஓவியத்தைப் பார்த்தவுடன் கை கூப்பி வணங்கத்தான் முதலில் தோன்றியது. உயிர்ப்புடனும் அழகுடனும் சகலரும் காட்சியருள்கின்றனர். என் மனமார்ந்த நன்றிகள் நும் அனைவருக்கும்.

  4. is it possible for siva to be playing a veena? which I feel will fit exactly by the way his left and right hands are poised!
    Excellent reconstruction by the artist Kudos to you and them!!

    • dear Dr Ravishankar

      normally early somaskanda’s shiva doesnt have any visible attributes – but later on – he gets his Maan ( deer) and Mazhu ( axe)


  5. Congrats anna!
    I wish u to continue this great work so that u reconstruct the whole pallava rajyam!
    I am so happy that I was a tool in the hands of the creators- u and Mrs. Subhashini for such a great work.
    And anna, i will be keep on disturbing u wit ma doubts n photos(!)



  7. Thanks VJ once3 again excelent work .Subhashini we lived through each adition of your creation .Just imagine how the original must have created so much awe! Congrats to the team

  8. காஞ்சிக்குப் போயிருக்கிறேன், பலமுறை கைலாயநாதரிடம் மெய்ம்மறந்த நிலையில், சிதைந்த ஓவியங்களின் மீது பரிவு, ஆனால் மீளமைத்துப் பார்க்கமுடியும் என்ற கண்ணோட்டம் வரவில்லை. உங்கள் வழிகாட்டலில் சிதைந்தவற்றை உயிரோடு பார்க்கிறோம், நன்றி

  9. @ nisha – Thanks. Credit to the artist for patiently documenting each stage

    @ Dr. Ravishankar – exactly. if the remaining parts evoke such a response, it would have been a dazzling spectacle in its original form. we tried our best !!

    @ Virutcham – yes sir, am asking Mrs Subhashini to come up with such a themed series !!

    @ Vinod. Thanks, keep visiting often and go through our archives as well


  10. மறவன்புலவு சார், வணக்கம். வெகு நாட்களாய் உங்கள் பின்னூட்டம் இல்லையே என்று காத்திருந்தேன். இப்போது மிகுந்த மகிழ்ச்சி.


  11. Excellent work. This gives an idea about how the pallava temples might have looked at their best times. Obviously the statues were covered with plaster and then painted. This would have given a nice 3 dimensional look.

    Some notes on the end product – sorry to be blunt, but it looks like a ananda vikatan or kumudham story illustration. The artist has failed to capture the original “feeling” of the painting. If we just compare the photos in the page, it is obvious that the arches of the eyes, lips, waists etc have been drawn in the artist’s style – how she had learnt. It brings into mind Illayaraja’s thiruvasagam – a good effort but it smacks of his tunes, like listening to bits of movie songs. I don’t want to say that it is bad – only it is not 100% perfect. The colours and dress patterns are different in the final. Maybe another iteration will help us crack the puzzle. Please don’t settle for something inferior to the best.

    Again, thanks for your efforts. I was only very disappointed that your hard work has not resulted in the best result.

  12. dear Rajan

    Yes, not only the statues – every inch of the temple was plastered and painted over ! Would have been such a delight to watch – floor to roof covered with such splendid paintings.

    Your comments noted on the attempt, please note this is not a commissioned work, but more an initial attempt to reconstruct from bits and pieces. The artist has also promised to do this as a large canvas soon. We also hope that this attempt will serve as a useful guide to other artists to work on these lines.

    best rgds

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