யாழினி

சாளரம் பொளித்த கால்போகு பெருவழி
வீதிமருங் கியன்ற பூவணைப் பள்ளித்
தகரக் குழலாள் தன்னோடு மயங்கி
மகரயாழ் வான்கோடு தழீஇ
வட்டிகைச் செய்தியின் வரைந்த பாவையின்
~ பளிக்கறை புக்க காதை, மணிமேகலை

இழையர் குழையர் நறுந்தண் மாலையர்
சுடர்நிமிர் அவிர்தொடி செறித்த முன்கைத்
திறல்விடு திருமணி இலங்கு மார்பின்
வண்டுபடு கூந்தல் முடிபுனை மகளிர்
தொடைபடு பேரியாழ் பாலை பண்ணிப்
பணியா மரபின் உழிஞை பாட
இனிதுபுறந் தந்தவர்க் கின்மகிழ் சுரத்தலிற்
சுரம்பல கடவும் கரைவாய்ப் பருதி
~ பதிற்றுப்பத்து (ஐந்தாம் பத்து)

To all the great men of ancient Tamil Kingdoms… Certain school of thought rekindles the flame of spirit to a strive further and farther… here is mine…

1. The great poets and poetesses of Sangam Literature who compiled legendary works during 600 B.C.E to 300 C.E.
2. Pandyas, huge patrons of Tamil Sangam.
3. Mahendravarman Pallavan I (600 C.E. to 630 C.E.) is a versatile persona, an intellect. He never seizes to amaze me – led life in a grand style, tried out different things in addition to his primary job of ruling a kingdom. He is an architect (assumed title, Vichitrachittan, for being a pioneer in rock-cut architecture in South India – Mandagappattu is the first temple to be built without wood, brick, mortar, or metal which is followed by Mahabalipuram, Trichy, Thirumayam, Siyamangalam, Mahendravadi, and Srigavaram) , artist (assumed title, Chitrakkarapuli for his prowess in painting – Sivakamiyin Sabadham lists his interest in pursuing the secrets of Ajanta and Ellora paintings), musician (credited with the invention of seven-stringed veena called Parivadhini, a composer of music set to Sankeeranajaathi thalam, and can sing in different voices), poet (author of the play, Mattavilasa Prahasana and Bhagavadajjuka), and a philosopher (analyzing Buddhist and Saiva philosophies with witty humor, criticizing the hypocrisy of contemporary religious beliefs in his plays).
4. Rajasimha / Narasimhavarman Pallavan II (695 C.E. to 728 C.E.) is also known for many things other than ruling an empire. He is a dramatist and a poet. His works in Sanskrit and Tamil are mostly lost. Some of his plays Kailasodharanam and Kamsavadham are being used with Kutiyattam in Kerala. Devotee of Lord Siva, he is listed among the 63 Nayanmars (patron saints of Saivam) under the name Kazharsimha Nayanar. He is another great architect who envisioned a new style of Dravidian temples – Katrali – from its predecessor, rock-cut ones. Kailasanathar Temple and Vaikuntanathar Temple of Kanchipuram, Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram stands a testimony to this vision. Apparently Rajaraja cholan stood in awe visiting Kailsanathar Temple and named it “kachipettu periya thirukatrali” is believed to be one of the inspirations to build Brihadeeswarar Temple.
5. Rajaraja Cholan (985 C.E. to 1014 C.E.)…I’m a big fan of Cholas in general after Ponniyin Selvan. He is supposedly one among the seven kings of India who never lost a war – Karikala Cholan (sangam era), Samudragupta Maurya, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Narasimhavaram I, and his son Rajendra Cholan. Apart from several wars and naval expeditions, he reorganized internal administration, revised taxes, renovated number of temples, patronized various arts, brought Devaram songs to light from of the closed rooms of Chidambaram Temple, and standardized inscriptions for recording history. Most of all, he took what Rajasimha left and built an architectural grandeur that stands proud and tall passing thousand years as an exposition of ingenuity and skilled craftsmanship.

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Yazhini – Work In Progress

Background (left in dull purple) and some other details are not complete…

 

Vishnu Priya is of the opinion that I should be honored with an invite to World Classical Tamil Conference 2010 😉 😛 I guess I’m already honored with Preetha’s warm hug 🙂

Yazhini – Gold Work

After completing gold…

I’ve quite some names of endearment such as Kutty, Mer, Mers, Merc, Mercedes, Grand Prix… A new one was added by Vishnu Priya – “Maccha Kanni” 🙂

Yazhini

I completed relief work of Yazhini 🙂 Is it narcissistic to like one’s own work? I enjoy every minute working on her 🙂 Planning to start gold work this Saturday…


Photo: Thoorigai

குந்தவை பிராட்டியார்

Photo Courtesy : Mouli Ponnupandy
இராஜராஜ தேவரின் திருத்தமக்கையார்
வல்லவரையர் வந்தியத்தேவரின் மகாதேவியார்
ஆழ்வார் பராந்தகக் குந்தவையார்

The thought process / research work behind this painting is detailed here.

Confessions
1. I’ve used artistic license to render a part of Pazhaiyaarai palace, the back drop. The pillar on the left is of Chola on top and ends with Pallava style. Pallavas had a lion or yazhi at the end, where I’ve put a lotus. Well, the reasoning behind this is the palace of Pazhaiyaari should have existed long before Parantaka Cholan II. There are many temples with mixed architecture. The period between late Pallavas and early Cholas were not that clear. They were trying out newer techniques and styles. That pillar could be a trial. I could have done a lion or a yazhi, it could possibly have taken the viewer’s attention to the pillar instead of the great lady. Chola architecture is if anything but simple according to K.A. Nilakanta Sastri. My space was limited too with the board’s dimension.
2. I had serious trouble with the window. I had tough time imagining how it could have been to finally resort to this one.
3. I took hints from Chettinad house pictures from Heritage India magazine.
4. Kolam pattern was suggested by Amma.
5. Deliberately made Kundavai to have a darker skin tone for the Dravidian origin.

குற்றம், குறைகளைப் பொருத்தருள்க!

Appreciations from fellow students…

Gayathri – (pointing to the painting) You…? 🙂
Geetha Aunty – யாரு கண்டா… இவ ஏதோ ஒரு ஜென்மத்துல தஞ்சாவூர் பக்கம் இளவரசியா கூட பொறந்து இருக்கலாம்… 🙂 🙂
Sowmya – Absolutely no words, Mercy… I’m your fan 🙂 🙂 🙂
Suman had an irrational fear of me developing a multiple personality disorder with an alter Kundavai 🙂

Voilà, Mesdames, Mesdemoiselles, Messieurs, c’est avec un grand plaisir que je vous présenter, the one and only Mercy Ponnupandy 🙂

கனக சபாபதி

பொன்னார் மேனியனே புலித்தோலை அரைக்கசைத்து
மின்னார் செஞ்சடைமேல் மிளிர்கொன்றை யணிந்தவனே
மன்னே மாமணியே மழபாடியுள் மாணிக்கமே
அன்னே உன்னையல்லால் இனியாரை நினைக்கேனே!
To Poppy, the apple of my eye 🙂

Princess Kundavai

I wanted to take my appreciation of Tanjore Painting to the next level. I learnt the art by creating gods and have tried to improvise on the second and third one. Next step is I wanted to work on a unique project. Kundavai and Maniam’s illustrationsin Kalki crossed my mind. I talked to my guru, Premalatha aunty in my own style for 20 minutes about Kundavai and she was hooked on to it. For the benefit non-Ponniyin Selvan readers… Kundavai is the elder sister of the king Rajaraja Cholan I who has played various roles like a legal advisor, philanthropist, and a king maker. A legendary wise woman from 10th century to show it takes more brains than beauty to save a small imprint in the colossal books of history. The 5 volumes that I own have 10 illustrations out of which two were Kundavai. I resorted to surfing the net to get a sculpture of Kundavai by Ilayaraja.V and links to repositories of scanned pictures from Kalki by Shiva. These were helpful, but not enough.

Kundavai is a real persona. I wanted authentic fashions for her instead of conjured up ones. For example, saree the traditional wear of Indian women has come to today’s form only by 19th century. Most of the Hindu Goddesses are depicted in recent saree wrapping style after Raja Ravi Varma. Why Hindu Goddesses alone? I have seen even Mother Mary in a neatly tied up saree in Saint Mary’s Basilica, Bangalore. Ancient fashions are tough to find out. Murals of Brihadeeswarar Kovil are dominated by gods and men except for like two or three pictures. Sculptures of goddesses until 12th century is consistently depicted with bare breasts and wearing a sacred thread. Saree is draped around the waist until 5 to 6 inches above the ankles. Bare breasts were considered as a mark of divinity in ancient India whereas clothes symbolized earthly attachments. Tamil literature talks about “kachai” (கச்சை) a cloth covers the breasts and tied at the back for modesty. Kundavai would be styled with a kachai and a saree drape of 10th century. I did not want her to be very sensual and glamorous and hence be covered partially in a transparent dupatta kind of cloth.

Now that basic styling was done, we thought about the posture and background. Making Kundavai in a sitting posture might turn out to look-alike of Hindu Goddesses. 10th century Chola sculptures in standing is made in a triple-bend (tribhanga) pose with a pronounced sway and holds one arm up and another down in a dramatic fashion. Her hair would be done in a raised chignon – conical bun/crown with karandamukuta (mountain like) tiers adorned with flowers and jewels. What could I possibly give her in the hand that is up? Not a sword. She did not participate in any wars – not a physical person. No flowers – too feminine. She’ll be holding a palm leaf (பனை ஓலை), the ancient form of paper. She could be devising strategies for Arulmozhivarman or it could be a special olai from Vanthiyadevan 😉 That would be left to viewer’s interpretation.

All left is the background now. She would be standing in the backdrop of a palace – Palayarai?? Palayarai is all in ruins. There is not even a map of it. It will be pulled out from my figment of imagination of old Chola temple with Chola Architecture pillars. That’s it.

I’ve all these ideas but have no clue how it is going to turn out. Almost everyone in my painting class knows about Kundavai and Rajaraja Cholan now 🙂 Very ambitious project for an amateur 😦 Special mention for the enthusiastic support to Thamba for printing sketches, Bala for calling before he got into the train to Tirupathi with his suggestions [I just talked about Maniam’s illustrations of Kundavai and before I could complete the sentence, he asked me, “you wanted to do it Tanjore style?” 🙂 ], and Cholargal book by K. A.Nilakanta Sastri.