A senior official of the Education Department has discovered a series of paintings on the rock-cut Jain monument in Sithannavasal.

So far, only the paintings in Arivarkovil in Sithannavasal were popular among the masses. But, the ancient monument at Sithannavasal also accounts for a rock cave on a steep structure called ‘Aezhadipattam’, a natural cavern located not far away from Arivarkovil.

Comparison

Comparing the paintings at Yezhadi pattam with those of Arivarkovil, N. Arul Murugan, Chief Educational Officer, said there were certain similarities in these works, but there were a few differences too.

The ‘dharma chakra’-like painting found at the sanctum sanctorum of Arivarkovil is also found at Yezhadipattam. A number of lotus flowers are drawn on the wheel. While the paintings at Arivarkovil have been renovated during the period of Sriman Sri Vallaba Pandiyan around 9th century AD, those at Yezhadipattam have been left at the mercy of vagaries of weather for centuries.

The paintings at Arivarkovil have symbols of deer, man and birds. The paintings at Aezhadipattam are pertaining to Jainism.

Different designs

The Yezhadipattam paintings testify to ancient artists’ skill in using binding materials. Lime and mortar were used as one of the binding materials upon which herbals and plants were used for design. Four types of designs could be traced: dot paintings, angular paintings, circular and linear paintings. Most paintings account for dark red and yellow colours.

In many of the paintings, the binding materials havc absorbed the colours dabbed, though the shape has been damaged by bad weather, says Mr. Arul Murugan.

The ancient monument is under the maintenance of the Archaeological Survey of India. To protect the Jain beds, the ASI had set up an iron gate right at the entrance.

“All these paintings are on the ceiling of the Jain beds. Visitors having a glimpse of the slippery beds do not look up at the ceiling,” he says, explaining the reason for these paintings remaining not so popular among tourists.