A Study in Nayaka-Period Social Life: Tiruppudaimarudur Paintings and Carvings

FREE Delivery
Delivery Ships in 1-3 days
Item Code: NAK885
Author: Jean Deloche
Publisher: Institute francais de
Language: English
Edition: 2011
ISBN: 9788184701876
Pages: 137 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 11.0 inch X 8.5 inch
Weight 630 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description
About the Author

Jean Delcohe, former head of the centre for History and archaeology, Ecolefrancaise d’ Extreme-Orient in Pondicherry, has devoted his entire academic career to the study of Indian History, He is presently a Senior Associate member of the Ecole francaise d’extreme – Orient and of the Institute Francais de Pondichery.

Back of the Book

The Carvings and paintings of Tiruppudaimarudur bring ‘flesh and blood’ to the dry bones of the published histories of the Madurai Nayakas. In an extraordinarily lively manner, they show us the culture and socio-economic life of almost every part of society, from the king to the common man. They are, as it were, the photographs of the era!

The methodology followed in this book is almost entirely based on a careful and systematic analysis of the range and multiplicity of the styles of dress and ornament worn by the figures represented in the scenes that have been painted and sculpted on the five tiers of the temple’s gopura. We can thus identify the people, determine their ranks and discern the relations between social groups, whether officials, administrators, soldiers or commoners. This study offers us a veritable mirror of Nayaka times.


The historiography of the Tamil country in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is rather meagre. Regarding the Madurai Nayakship, the main sources of information are native chronicles and memoirs compiled with references to the existing records which throw some light on the state's affairs but must be utilised with caution. To these, should be added the annual reports to Europe by the Jesuit missionaries of South India on the administration of their various ecclesiastical centres,' in which passing remarks are found on the religious, social, economic and political conditions of South India.

These documents only furnish very general and scant information and give a very poor idea of the life of the people.' This is why the discovery by Indian scholars three decades ago of the paintings and carvings of the gopura of Tiruppudaimarudur temple has been an event of exceptional importance.

In this monograph, through careful investigation, we have selected the most Significant images found on the walls and pillars of this gateway tower, and we have classified them in a series of living tableaux depicting the various aspects of life in the Nayaka kingdom at the end of the medieval period. Our aim is to add a new chapter to the social history of South India.


Tiruppudaimarudur (Tirupputaimarutur) is a village situated in Amba- samudram taluk, Tirunelveli district, on the southern bank of the Tambraparni River.

Its old temple, dedicated to Sri Narumpunatacami and goddess Gomati-ampal, is probably of early Pandyan origin, later expanded during the Vijayanagara period. Among the additions carried out through the centuries, there is a magnificently decorated gopura.

This gateway tower is in five tiers, each one consisting of a pillared hall with a beautifully carved wooden ceiling and walls completely covered with exquisite paintings.

All the tiers are reached by a flight of steps. Each tier consists of the principal longitudinal area flanked, in the centre, by two pillared aisles of less breadth provided with a window. The first floor is 11 m long and 4 m broad, and the dimensions of each structure decrease gradually from the first to the fifth floor, the last of which is constructed with a barrel vault.

Inside, the rooms are dark because only two windows allow light in; this shortage of light explains why the paintings are well preserved, except on the edge of the openings where they are partially faded. A powerful torch is needed to see the paintings properly and photograph them. The wooden structures, pillars and lintels and the coffered ceilings are made of precious wood: iruppai (Bassia longifolia) or South Indian mahua and tekku (Tectona grandis), teak.

Regarding the paintings, we don't know the precise technique practised by the local artists on the murals. From broken fragments, we can see that the brick walls are covered with a layer of lime on which colour is applied. It consists of a layer of rough lime plaster, measuring 2 to 3 mm on which is smooth plaster 0.5 mm thick with paint film thereon. Apparently the technique used is that of fresco secco, i.e. mixing the pigments with limewater and Applying it on the dry plaster on the wall. On the nature of the pigments (red, green black, white, yellow and violet ) we do not have any information.

Paintings do not bear the names of the artists. However, it would be interesting to distinguish special characteristics in the art of different masters; the various styles of the panels show that many people collaborated on this work, but the element of individuality has to be determined. Was there a system of division of labour, a method of joint work involving two or more experts, one for sketching and the others for colouring? We are not in' a position to answer this question.

In any case, from an artistic point of view, the workmanship in the whole gopura is superb. The sculpture is robust and sober with a marked propensity towards naturalistic representation; the painting, characterised by a great thematic variety, a boldness of expression and brightness of colour, shows a richness and a vividness of experience, which forms a class distinct from other styles in South India, except perhaps Lepakshi.

As for the historical interest of these murals, they are an invaluable body of documentary evidence: the Tiruppudaimarudur painters are not only superb artists, but also profound illustrators and magnificent storytellers. Dating When was the decoration of the gopura carried out? S. Hariharan thinks that the paintings are ascribable to the late Vijayanagara period (late 16th century).' This dating appears to be too early.

The palaeography of the labels below some of the paintings does not help us in this matter. However, an analysis of the technological level of certain devices gives us some clues as to the period when this work was executed.

The depiction of handguns does not contradict Hariharan's dating, since we know that firearms were used in South India by the middle of the 16th century. But the presence of (S-shaped) curb bits in the bridles of all the horses represented raises a problem because, as will be seen infra, only snaffles (simple bits) are found in the carvings of all the temples of South India until at least 1633.

Therefore, the widespread use of curb bits in the southern extremity of the peninsula shown in the paintings cannot be earlier than the first quarter of the 17th century. To be on the safe side, let us assume that the decoration of the gopura dates from the second half of the 17th century.


Acknowledgements: History of the Project IX
The Painted Panels8
Variety of the Themes depicted8
Nature of the Illustrations9
Dress: A visual Mirror of Society10
Plan of the Study10
I.Stable-Ship: Import Trade in Horses11
a.the Boat11
b.The Ship12
3.Identification of the Ship16
The King19
Two Groups of Dignitaries and Offers21
1Administrative Officers and Dignitaries of the Government21
a.Administrative Officers: Ministers21
2.Royal Establishment: Officers and Courtiers37
III.Military Forces37
1.Permanent Army of the State37
d.On the March: Parades and Processions44
2.Royal Guard44
b.Foot Soldiers45
d.On the March49
e.Duality of the Armed Force49
3.Training and conduct of a Battle55
a.Training 55
Horsemanship 55
Body Exercises55
bConduct of a Battle61
4Employment of Europeans61
a.Role of the Portuguese62
b.lascarins Peons or Soldiers66
IVDaily Life67
1domestic Activities67
aCourt Scene : King and Entourage67
bCourt scene: Queen and Women67
cTemple scenes: Priests and Devotees67
cRole of Music92
eAnimal Fights92
fBird-trapper and Snake Charmer98
Vtechnical Details99
1Musical Instruments99
a.Percussion Instruments99
b.Wind Instruments105
c.Metal Discs105
2Human Porterage105
bway to carry Loads109
3Riding Equipments109
aHorse Breeds109
cSaddle and Body Equipments113
aTraditional Arms113

Sample Pages

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at help@exoticindia.com
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through help@exoticindia.com.
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories