Fresco-making is an ancient art of Shekhavati that dates back to several centuries in India. Different regions had their distinct styles. The artists of Shekhavati have been inventing new methods for making frecoes with locally available material. The fresco painters of Shekhavati were called chitaras and belonged to the Kumhar or potter caste. They were also called chejaras or masons since they performed both the functions of building and painting. The chejaras of Shekhavati used additional local materials with the principal constitutes. The impact of two styles developed according to the working process of painting and medium can be seen here in the frescoes.
Fresco-buono, the first method employed painting on a wet surface. The second method known as Fresco-secco was done on a dry surface. The first method which did not require any sticking or binding material was comparatively more stable and the paintings remained unfaded and less affected by heat and rain. The word fresco originated from the Latin word for fresh (fresh plaster or wet surface). It is also known as wet wall painting, Aayash, Alagila etc. Fresco-buono is done on wet lien plaster with colours mixed with lime and water. On drying, the lime absorbs carbonic acid from the air and reacts chemically into insoluble Calcium Carbonate. This thin layer becomes the upper surface of colour and the colour becomes stable. Wall painting on a dry surface is called Fresco-secco.This is called the tempera method where tempera colours are used with sticking and binding material. The advantage in this method is that modifications can be added to the paintings later. In this method it is required to ensure that the walls are free of moisture to prevent an alkaline effect on the paintings which could ruin the colours. Gum, sares, egg and casein are used as binding material in this method. In the havelis of Shekhavati, usually pure frescoes are drawn on the lower surfaces and walls outside while the interiors and ceilings are painted using fresco-secco. Mineral colours obtained from rocks and sand were used for these wall paintings as these don’t react with lime. The colour pigments used were mainly kajal (lamp black) for black, safeda (chalk) or chuna (lime) for white, neel (indigo) for blue, harabhata (terra verte) for green, geru (red stone) for red, hirmich (a mineral) for brown, kesar (saffron) for orange and pevri (yellow clay) for yellow ochre.More...


A majority of the paintings in Morarka Haveli are of gods and heroes who turn up repeatedly in similar poses. The figures mostly represent definite characters, real or mythical. The subjects of the murals could be categorised thus: religious, ‘Ragamala’, mythology, historical events and personages, the everyday, animals and plants, the British, decorative designs. Religious content: The kula devata or patron deity of the Shekhavati Rajputs is Gopinathji (Krishna in his amorous aspect as Lord of the gopis or milkmaids. The marwaris revere Krishna and episodes of Krishna-gopi dominates the frescoes of this haveli. Other episodes are ‘Rasa Mandala’, the cosmic circular dance of Krishna in which he multiplies himself to be with every gopi and the story in which Indra the god of rain lets loose a torrential shower on herders and Krishna comes to their rescue by sheltering them with Govardhan mountain

which he lifts over them like an umbrella. The Vaishnavites among the painters of Morarka Haveli went on to the dasavataras – the ten incarnations of Vishnu. This theme neatly lent itself for painting in the panels between the stone brackets suporting the overhanging rooms and balconies. Since the worship of Rama and Sita is common among Marwaris, scenes from the Ramayana also appear in the frescoes of Morarka haveli. The Marwaris take particular care to worship Lakshmi the goddess of wealth who is also the consort of Vishnu the preserver. Ganesha the elephant-headed son of Shiva appears at the entrance of Morarka Haveli. His image is carved on the wooden lintel as seated contentedly on his mouse and attended on both sides by his wives Riddhi and Siddhi (the means and the end). Other themes are inspired by love and nature such as the paintings of the Rajasthani (folk) love story of Dhola-Maru, scenes of royalty, animals decorated with floral patterns. Paintings representing colonial impact with imagery form the life of Jesus and the prevailing lifestyle of the British depicted through sartorial styles and depiction of planes and trains. The painters were clearly given a free hand because the purpose of the frescoes was not ideographical or biographical but decorative. With broad outlines, the subjects were picked at random. -