Fading mural paintings of Cheriya Palli in Kottayam restored

cheriya pally murals
Photo: Rijo Joseph
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Kottayam: The St Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala's Kottayam district is locally known as Cheriya Palli, meaning small church. Built in the Portuguese-Baroque-Keralite style, the church is a treasure trove of mural art. The centuries-old mural paintings have been restored to their former glory.

The rare paintings, which are believed to be more than 300 years old, at the holy sanctuary (madhaba) of the church were brought back without losing on their aesthetic quality.

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Several of the wall paintings had faded with the passage of time. Mural painting artist V M Jiju Lal and team worked hard for three months to restore these paintings at the 441-year-old church. (The church was built on land donated tax-free by the Thekkumkoor king Kotha Varma to the Marthoma Nasrani Christians who split from the 'Valiya Palli' (big church) at Kottayam).

cheriya pally murals

Jiju Lal said that the colours were restored even while protecting each layer of the old pictures.

First, the dirt on the walls and paintings were removed using a special solution. After cleaning, parts that had come off the wall were fixed using glue.

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The striking mural art on the church interiors depicts the major incidents in Jesus Christ's life. The eastern side of the church wall portrays the major happenings in the life of the Lord's mother. Some of the paintings depict the trial of Christ, Crucifixion, and Christ being taken down from the cross.

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The ceiling with 99 tiles is adorned with various paintings. Historians said that these were painted by foreign artists. Interestingly, the clothes worn by the people in the paintings are also European in style. Thought the paintings are in European style, some experts claim the technique used is that of artists from Kerala.

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