Map of Dakshin Chitra
A brief note on the Domestic Architecture of Tamil Nadu
has a long sandy seacoast and a vast expanse of semi-arid plains, once covered with scrub forests, grass and groves of bamboo. Water was scarce and wells per village were few in number. Families clustered together, to be close to each other and to thesources of water. Wood was never in abundance, but was used for columns and beams. Rafters and reapers were usually of bamboo. Thepride of each house was the front door and this was carved and decorated to be as welcoming and auspicious as could be. Trees were
felled from nearby, preferably from the houseowner’s own compound. The village set rules where trees could and could not be f
elled.The carpenters made the bullock carts and the ploughs and all that was necessary for agriculture and house building in the village. Theywere helped by the blacksmiths who made the hinges and the nails, the locks for the doors and the special fixtures for the carts. Thepotters made the terracotta roofing tiles. Floors were most often made of rammed mud, finished with a red oxide coating or cow dungslurry. Walls were made of sun-dried or baked brick or mud which were also regularly treated with a cow dung slurry, which kept the bugsaway with its antiseptic properties.Few people could afford the roofing tiles, and for centuries, a tiled roof required a royal permission accorded only to the rich. Most peoplehad thatch roofs, even wealthy people. The thatch kept the house cool. Palmyra trees grew in abundance and grasses and reeds, or evendried paddy stalk was used. Families used what was most convenient and abundant in their area. Bamboo was treated and sliced andwoven into mats which were sometimes even used as walls. Mats were woven from reeds for sleeping on or to spread on the cowdungfloors for guests to sit on.Lime plaster became the keystone of decoration on Tamil houses. The wealthy merchants and the royal families let the masons whospecialised in lime plaster use their imagination to create stories, florid capitals and ceilings and homage to patrons in plaster.Most Tamil houses have an inner courtyard which is used for drying grains, shelling pods and for functions. There is a raisedverandah or small seating area in the front of the house, called a tinnai. The houses from Tamil Nadu at
aretypical of houses found in many villages throughout each region.
A brief note on the Domestic Architecture of Kerala
The architecture, environment and culture of
stand in marked contrast to that of TamilNadu. Kerala is blessed with abundant water, verdant forests and rich lands. Unlike the Tamilian,the Keralite prefers to live isolated from neighbours in the middle of a plot of land, with privacy andbeautiful tropical vegetation. In Kerala houses, technique, form and materials are basically the samefor all classes and economic levels. Only size or the addition of more buildings to a compoundseparate the rich from the poor.
Kerala’s domestic architecture is pun
ctuated in form by the religious architecture of its threecommunities - the Hindus, Christians and Muslims. While the domestic architecture of the threecommunities is similar, small details such as a cross or a gable distinguish one type from another. A slight variation in the arrangement of rooms and spaces according to the social customs of each group, characterises thedifferences in the interior. All the Kerala houses at
were sold to the Madras Craft Foundation because the