This time around, Nazariya brings to you, the great Kaavi Wall Art. This unrevealed heritage of Goa is bound to leave you awestruck!

Kaavi Wall Art

Kaavi art on an old wall in Goa

Every time we think about Goa- the beautiful beaches, lingering seafood and a culturally diverse atmosphere are the chief thoughts that come to our mind. But Goa has so much more to offer. We hardly know about the rich heritage of Goa which now by hook or by crook is besieged for attention.

Kaavi art is what we are about to unleash. It’s one of the most sacred and oldest art forms of the Goan cultural heritage. Today on the verge of being a dying art form, Kaavi art is a form of painting in Konkan region in temples, houses, small shrines and walls of Roman Catholic Churches of Goa.

The term Kaav in Konkani refers to Indian red pigmentation which is the only color used in the art form which is obtained from the laterite soil. The specialty of the art form is its technique of the application of the murals on the wall: the reddish painting is artistically drawn against the white sandblasted background.

Kaavi Art Motif

The beautiful deep red colored motif of Kaavi Art

If you ponder over how the material is prepared then let me take you to the Goan beach and make you explore, how the snow-white lime is obtained by burning the sea shells and washed sand from river beds were mixed with jaggery and then is allowed to ferment for two weeks. This mixture is then effortlessly hand poured to obtain a homogenous substance which soon hardens and then is applied to the walls which enrich our eyes as Kaavi wall art!

The beauty of the art form has insisted it to spread its wings from Goa and expand its vistas to Maharashtra and Karnataka. But Goa being the origin of the art form has been deprived of Kaavi so far. Much of the works you will come across are mostly hundred years old and more maybe. Some are so old that they do not appear very presentable and the families who own the artwork have the lack of economic resources in order to restore the art. One problem faced in restoring this art in temples and houses is that we have no one practicing this art in Goa anymore. To perform Kaavi artisans need to import from Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Kaavi being an art form that can be composed as smoothly as butter and can also be so complex that it may require geometrical assistance. The architectural touch in Kaavi is commendable if you observe it so closely. If you let the ridges, platforms, and niches that are decorated with spirals, spades, semi-circles, and curves seep into you for a while and realize the architectural beauty in the two-dimensional art of Kaavi.

The following images depict the architectural attribute of Kaavi Art very precisely –

Kaavi art with architectural attributes

Kaavi art with architectural attributes

A pillar depicting extraordinary Kaavi Art

A pillar depicting extraordinary Kaavi Art

 

Kaavi can still be very well be seen at The Brahmini Maya Temple, Kshetrapal Temple in Agarvaddo, and Venkatesh and Parashuram in South Goa. However, inspite of its downfall the Goa Heritage Action Group has resolved to make the people and the government sit up and take notice in order to save Kaavi art from disappearing completely from Goa.

Since Goa is one of the highly admired tourist spots, the objective is to bring in the thought of people to see this thing of beauty and create more awareness. It will be a huge moment of loss if the art form is not preserved. Being at the stake of extinction Kaavi is not just an art form but a whole lot of perspective of knowledge, culture, belief, and stories of our ancestral history.

 It’s a call to preserve the intangible cultural heritage of one of the most exotic and popular travel destination of the world.  It’s the call to preserve Kaavi.


Content Research and Conceptualization by Kaavya Lakshman; Written by Ananya Maahir and Kaavya Lakshman

Sometimes it can be astonishing how generous nature has been while creating colours that they can be sourced from almost everywhere: white from rice flour, black from charcoal powder, yellow from turmeric powder, green from powdered green leaves, red from mixture of turmeric powder and lime and a combination from them can create something so beautiful that only the Gods could be associated with it. One such artform where these colours work wonders is Kalamezuthu.

image source: www.keralatourism.org

image source: www.keralatourism.org

As recorded on June 27, 2016 in The Hindu. “For many students of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kodunganoor, it was perhaps their first glimpse of how five colours sourced from nature could be used to create art. The students had gathered at the school on Saturday afternoon to watch Theeyattu, an art form native to Central Travancore, as part of a cultural outreach programme organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram centre, and the Infosys Foundation, Bengaluru. The students watched as Theeyattu practitioners Vaikom Sasidhara Sarma, Sreejith Sarma, Sarath Sarma, Hari Krishnan, and Vijayan Varriar used the coloured powders to draw a large figure of Bhadrakali using their thumb and index finger in a ritual called Kalamezhuthu.”

image source: www. thiraseela.com

image source:  www.thiraseela.com

History

In Malayalam, the literal meaning of kalam is picture and ezhuthu is the act of drawing. It is also known as “dhulee chithram”, as the painting is made solely of powder. The powder used is extracted solely from natural products. Kalamezhuthu is a unique form of floor art that is predominately found in South Kerala. It is a ritual art, done mainly in temples as well as at the entrance and courtyard of homes as a symbol of welcoming the deities in the house. It is a harmonious blend of Tribal, Dravidian and Arian cultures. Its association with sacred groves and  tantric elements is a later addition. 

 

Legends

The legends are mainly associated with goddess Kali, who is the central depiction of the art. When the Asuras Dharukan and Dhanavendran underwent severe penance, they were granted the privilege by Lord Shiva that they wouldn’t be vanquished by any man and along with this, every drop of blood spilt on earth will give birth to hundreds of further Asuras. The grant of these wishes emboldened them and they created havoc in all the three worlds. When Lord Shiva got to know of this, he opened his third eye and created the fierce Kali who was an incarnation of Shakti, consort of Shiva. Kali being a woman could kill them, and when the blood spilt, she drank all of it before it touched the ground. Thus, she vanquished them all. Narada went to Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, and recounted the victorious battle between Kali and the Asuras. While narrating, he drew a terrifying illustration of the events, thus giving birth to Kalamezhuthu.

image source: www.delhievents.com

image source: www.delhievents.com

Traditions

Ritualistic festivals in Kerala begin from the Malayalam month of and it continues through the harvest season, until the pre monsoon showers. Kalamezhuthu is a part of the worship of gods like Kali, Ayyappan and Vettakkorumakan. The artists are members of communities like Kurups, Theyyam padi Nambiars, Theeyadi Nambiars and Theeyadi Unnis. Traditionally, Kurups are in-charge of Kalamezhuthu. The Velichapad is a priest who is believed to be possessed by the divine spirit. He plays an important role in the Kalamezhuthu. On the day of the offering, the venue is set up by the Kurups by making the Koora (roof), for the Kalam (drawing) and Pattu (song). After this the Kalam is done, starting in the afternoon. The neighborhood is informed of the Kalamezhuthu by the Sandhya Pattu– song at dusk. The traditional musical instruments – ilathalam, veekkan chenda, kuzhal, kombul and chenda – are used in the performance. The Velichapad does the Kalampradhakshinam or Kala Pradaksinam– circling the Kalam with rhythmic steps in tune with the music. The Kurup does the Thiriuzhichal– removing the negative vibes with lighted wicks. After this the Velichapad does the Nalikarameru– throwing of coconuts. The song changes to Kalapattu or Kalam Pattu, a vibrant and mesmerizing song, to which the Velichapad does the Kalathylaattam dance. The grand finale is the most spectacular event of the evening. The priest does the Kalam Maykal– dance in a frenzy that simultaneously erases the Kalam. This denotes the Kalasam– end of the Kalamezhuthu.

image source: www.cyberkerala.com

image source: www.cyberkerala.com

 

Description of the painting

 The canvas of the artist is the floor and he usually makes use of only 5 colors. The scale of the painting ranges from 3-5 meters, making it neither miniature nor gigantic. The work is done with bare hands, without the use of tools. It takes more than two hours to finish the painting. The work starts from the centre and moves outwards. The design is either two dimensional or three dimensional. Above the kalam, decorations such as canopy of palm fronds, garlands of red hibiscus flowers and ocimum leaves (tulasi) are hung. Lighted ball metals are placed on the four corners of the drawing. The patterns of the painting vary depending on the occasion and not on the artist’s choice. It is interesting to note that the expression of the figures depict anger and intense emotions. The deities depicted in the art form are Goddess Bhadrakali, Lord Ayyappa, and the serpent god Naga Devata.

image source: www.thirasleela.com

image source: www.thirasleela.com

Organizations

 The Lalit Kala Akademi organises the Kamalezhuthu Festival that gives people a taste of the art form as well as the performance associated with it to highlight   the roots of fine arts and aesthetic sensibilities of Kerala.

Address : Lalit Kala Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001/ lka@lalitkala.gov.in

Telephone: 011 – 23009200

Fax: 011 – 23009292

Website: http://lalitkala.gov.in/

Information: Dr. Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty , Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi / chairman@lalitkala.gov.in

Mr. Ramakrishna Vedala, Secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi / secretary@lalitkala.gov.in