Tanjore Painting

Tanjore painting is one of the most acclaimed Indian painting styles. Tanjore painting styles evolved in the 16 th century under the patronage. Tanjore painting acquired its name from the place of its origin – Thanjavoor, Tamil Nadu. It was then the capital of the mighty Chola Empire. Tanjore: A Place in History Sixteenth century India. At the heart of the magnificence and glory of the Chola Empire, in their capital city, Thanjavur (or Thanjavoor, pronounced Tanjore in English), flourished an intricate art form - the Tanjore Painting.

This specialized style of Indian painting was patronized by the Maratha Princes, the Nayaks of Vijaynagar dynasty, the Rajus of Tanjore and Trichi and the Naidus of Madurai.

Today, the Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu, India, remains the centre of this ancient form of traditional Indian art. Here, artists can be seeing, working with expertise, to keep alive one of the most breathtaking styles of Indian painting.

The Artist and his Art

Tanjore paintings are noted for their expensive appearance. They are made using the gilded and gem-set technique: a technique where gold leaves and glittering stones are used to highlight some parts of the painting, such as ornaments and garments.

The first step in the creation of Tanjore paintings is the preparation of the wooden board. On this is fixed an unbleached cloth. This serves as the canvas. It is softened using a paste of chalk powder and glue. The drawing in then traced on the canvas. In a typical Tanjore painting, this is usually a main deity, with a well-rounded body and almond shaped eyes. This figure is enclosed in an arrangement of arches and curtains. Once the drawing is completed, the ornamental work is done. Semi-precious or artificial stones and glass pieces are stuck to form garlands and jewels. Once this is done, the painting begins. For outlines, the color preferred is dark-brown. The background is usually red, but sometimes green is also used. Depending on the deity, a color is chosen. For instance, Lord Vishnu is colored blue, Lord Nataraja is chalk-white, and the Goddesses are painted yellow. The sky is generally blue, but black is also favored sometimes. Thereafter, wafer thin gold foil is pasted to enhance the rich and lavish look of the painting. Finally, the painting is framed. The frames used are of two types. The Tanjore painting is either framed in a plain wooden frame, or in a decorated Chettinad frame.

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