Near Eastern Painting – Tanjore Painting – Pride of South India

Tanjore Painting – The Concept & History

Tanjore Painting (Tamil: Thanjavur Oviyum) holds a special place in the history of Indian painting. It emerged in a South Indian state Tamil Nadu, in a city called Tanjore or Thanjavur, also famously known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu.” Thanjavur is famous for different types of arts and crafts, among which Tanjore Paintings are highly appreciated. The Tanjore artistry is also established on Thanjavur Toys and Thanjavur Plates to name a couple. The foundation of Tanjore Painting can be traced back to the Nayakas of Thanjavur in the seventeenth century. During this period, the Tanjore Art flourished especially due to the skills and talent of certain communities, such as The Rajus in Thanjavur & Trichy, and Naidus in Madurai.

The Details

Tanjore Painting was appreciated for its rich colors, use of precious stones, woods, mica, mirrors, ornaments, exotic media like ivory, murals, and manuscripts. Meticulously fine work of the artists well justified this prolific supplementation. These paintings would typically have one key figure, usually a deity (Hindu Gods, Sikh Gurus, or saints) with attractive body and almond shaped eyes. Hindu Gods, such as Shiva -Parvati, Vishnu-Lakhmi, Ganesh, and Krishna were the most loved portrayals among the artists. The religious fascination in art was attributed mainly to the beautiful and classic temples being built by the then emperors of several dynasties.

Tanjore Painting is painted on canvass, generally made of a plank of wood, having a cloth pasted on it with Arabic Gum. Once the canvas is ready, the painters draw a detailed sketch of the picture on it. For a 3D effect, a paste of limestone and a binding medium is used, so that the painter can decorate and ornament the theme using his skill and brush.

The artists effectively use the gold leaves and gems of various colors in some areas, such as pillars, arches, thrones, and dresses, to create a durable glow and shine. In old times, painters used natural colors like vegetable and plants dyes to color the sketch, which in the modern times, have been replaced by chemical paints. In Tanjore Painting, the painter used specific colors like dark brown for outline and red or green for the background. Lord Vishnu was mostly colored blue and Lord Nataraja in chalk white. Yellow color was mainly used in painting the Goddesses. While the sky was represented in blue color, black was used only occasionally.

The Types

o Classic – It has strong & varied colors, enhanced with high glitter gold foil.
o Antique – Gold glitter is moderate here and so are colors and backgrounds.
o Embossed – Similar to the Classic finish otherwise, these are super embossed.

The Heritage

The Tanjore Painting is unique and is one of the most appreciated forms of expressing love to god, devotion, love, and beauty. Tamil artists have still kept it alive and have even added modern techniques to enhance its worth.

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