In the year 1971 ,
Lalitha Kala Akademi hand picked 11 well trained artists and commissioned them to replicate the dying murals of a Jain hermitage in Shravanabelagola .
Mathada Basadi ,located in the middle of Shravanabelagola Town
is not visited by many people , as only the hillocks with their awesome shrines are better known . But it has a hoary heritage value too . Aslo known as Charukeerthi Matha, it was founded by Chavundaraya in the eleventh century. The present structure, though, was built only in late 18th century. This mutt houses a good collection of sculptures of jain divinities .
The walls are the most eyecatching . They are richly decorated with murals narrating the lives of Jinas and Jaina kings.
These are the murals that were sought to be preserved by Lalitha Kala Akademi . The murals were created on wet plaster with mineral and vegetable pigments , the palette confined to the Panchavarnas , or the five auspicious colours : red, yellow, green , white and indigo . Black soot was used for outlining.
The style is medieval , Nayaka inspired , showing a lot of typical Mysorean characteristics . The murals can be dated not earlier than mid 19th century . It is befitting that the Akademi chose artists who had exposure to Mysore Art to do the replication .
The subjects seen on the murals are varied , not strictly devoted to mythology.
There are panels showing the darbar of a contemporary king , illustrations of musical instruments and weapons and hunting scenes , along with portraits of Jinas , yaksha-yakshis , Panchaparameshtis , Tirtankaras etc and narrative panels of certain legends. There is also an intricate yantra like rendition of Parshwanatha's Samavasarana.
The borders of panels are neat and simple creepers with stylised blossoms.
It was gruelling work for 46 days for the artists . At the end of which , the Akademi had in its hand the next best thing to the murals themselves : faithful True Copies that were exact replications of the colour , size and condition of the murals - chipping, fading , deterioration included. Nothing was prettified , nothing was glossed over . The medium used was water colours, which closely approximated the natural colours left on the old plaster . The result was awesome . Something which photography could
never have achieved.
In view of the Mahamastakabhisheka to take place soon at Shravanabelagola , the Akademi had put these works on public show for a week in Chitra Kala Parishat . ( last week of Jan 2018)
The replicas look real ; the strokes and smears can actually be seen ; the chipped plaster , authentic. Amazing work indeed.