440-year-old mural being recovered

June 13, 2008 12:00 am | Updated October 09, 2016 09:08 am IST

R. Sairam

It was lost when Meenakshi temple walls were whitewashed decades ago

20 per cent of ‘Bhugolam’ was lost over the years

‘Khagolam’ in ‘Kalyana Mandapam’ will be restored

MADURAI: A 440-year-old mural at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple here, which was lost completely after the walls were whitewashed decades ago, is being recovered by a team from Regional Conservation Laboratory, Mysore.

“While 20 per cent of the mural, known as ‘Bhugolam’, was lost over the years, the remaining portion can be completely recovered. We have manually counted 24 layers on top of the original mural,” N. Selvarehai, technical restorer, who is leading the restoration work, told The Hindu on Thursday.

The Mysore-based laboratory is attached to the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property, Lucknow.

‘Khagolam’ is the other mural located in the opposite wall in the ‘Kalyana Mandapam’ (marriage hall) that will be restored by the team. Both the murals have been copied on to the canvases adjacent to them in 1966.

The process

Elaborating on the restoration process, he said the mural comprised three layers—course plaster, medium plaster and fine plaster—together known as ground. On top of it was the paint layer.

The team had already removed half of the layers on top of the mural. Once all additional layers were removed, the paint layer would be consolidated so that it did not peel off the ground. This would be followed by consolidation of the ground layer with the wall.

“The work on Bhugolam will be completed in a month. Then, we will take up restoration of the two canvas copies, each of which will take a month,” he said.

B. Raja, Joint Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department and Executive Officer of the temple, said that till the 1970s, marriages used to be conducted in this hall.

“Once the murals are restored, we will preserve them and showcase them. We will not allow any further damage,” he said.

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