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Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Famous Tanjore Paintings

Tanjore paintings, as we all know is a classical form of South Indian painting native to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. A lot of South Indian households would have at least one of them in their houses either from their grandparent days or as a recent acquisition from an art shop. These paintings are pretty ornate and are vivid in colour composition. The popular themes of these paintings are either Hindu gods and goddesses or episodes from Hindu history. This art form dates back to about 1600 AD, a period when the Nayakas of Thanjavur promoted art across their empire.

This guy made all these beautiful Tanjore paintings 
The Tanjore paintings can be seen pretty much in all art galleries across India, but if you wish to see where it is made, then you have to head to the South side of the Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur. It is here that this dwindling art form is still practised in the small households where it has been passed on in the family through generations. I made such a visit during my last trip to Thanjavur. A chat with the locals around the temple about Tanjore paintings will lead you to these traditional Brahmin households where the artist or his family would take you to the workshop or their own small gallery.

The famous Tanjore paintings in a local house at Tanjore 
If you are lucky, you can actually see parts of the painting development process: making of the preliminary sketch of the image on a cloth pasted on a wooden base, use of chalk powder and a mild abrasive to make it smoother, decoration of the art with jewellery like Jaipur semi precious stones, pasting of gold foils and finally the usage of colour dyes. One can also buy these Tanjore paintings straight from the artist, though sometimes, the finish of the end product (framing, quality of glass, etc.) is not up to the mark. Though, I would recommend you buy just the painting and frame it elsewhere to the quality levels that you wish.



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