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Tanjore painting – The art that glitters

tanjore painting

A Tanjore painting is one of the most visible and iconic ancient Indian art. Even though it uses precious metals like gold, silver or stones, it is still the most popular painting form today. Divinity in all that gold, irresistible.

The story of Tanjore art

The story of Tanjore painting begins in South India, a place called Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur has a long history association with Indian art and religion. The history and origins of Thanjavur region is lost, but it came in prominence after the Chola King, Vijayalaya conquered it in the year 0850. During the Chola rule, this place flourished as their capital. The largest temple complex in South India, Brihadishvara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was build here between 1003 and 1010. With the decline of the Chola reign, control over their capital city started slipping till 1279 to the Delhi Sultanate. Earliest instances of art is in the form of paintings on the walls of Chola temples. Between 1371 to 1673, art again flourished under the patronage of Thanjavur Nayaks. In 1565, artists from Hampi migrated after sacking of the place in a war. All this history and patronage of arts and literature was just the setting stone for something really big what was coming up next.

In 1674, the Maratha King, Ekoji marched into Thanjavur marking the beginning of a long Maratha rule under the Thanjavur Maratha Kingdom. Maratha rulers and noblemen patronized Carnatic music. On 29 June 1798, King Serfoji II took over as ruler of Thanjavur kingdom with the assistance of British. From 1798 to until his death in 1832, he was great promoter of art, literature and music. He is credited with the revival and reinvention of modern day Tanjore paintings. During his reign, the art form of Thanjavur grew leaps and folds. One of the innovation done at that time was the use of reverse glass technique. The painting was done on glass in reverse and metal was inserted in the gaps. This gave the effect of precious metals or stone. This style of painting was fast and inexpensive.

It is interesting to note that the name of the place Thanjavur was simplified by the British to read as Tanjore, as they have done to countless places around the country. The city goes back to using its ancient name. But the art form is universally known as Tanjore paintings.

Own a tanjore painting and a piece of history

A Tanjore painting is prepared by placing a cardboard over wooden board and covered with a canvas using gum. Then a paste is prepared by mixing chalk powder and tamarind seed powder and multiple coats applied over the canvas. The surface after drying is rubbed with emery paper to give it a smooth sheen. An artist draws the sketch and same substance is used to raise the profile. This is followed by gold foil work which is the embossed area. Then precious stones are embedded at the necessary places to create the reflections and effects. The whole work is then covered with glass and framed with wood.

Featured above is An exclusive Tanjore Painting of Ganeshji by one of our Business Mates member, Pooja Gupta. It is 3D work with 24 K gold leaf work. Colourful stones and acrylic colors have been used. This work takes about 3-4 months to complete and can be customised. Trunk is turned towards the left as per requirement of the person who commissioned the work.

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Radha krishna in 3d tanjore

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A link to another creation by a member of Business Mates, Neetu.

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