The Rich Indian Art form - Tanjore Paintings

The Rich Indian Art form - Tanjore Paintings

Tracing its roots to the ancient golden era of the early 18th century, Tanjore painting is one of the many indigenous art forms for which India is famous. Tanjore Painting is an ancient one of a kind, painting named after the place Thanjavur (called Tanjore in English) in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern part of India. The Tanjore paintings have a rich heritage. These paintings evoke a sense of class and endurance with their enthralling illustrations of historic scenes. 

Tanjore paintings are crafted with meticulous care. These paintings are a unique visual amalgamation of both art and craft. There are several steps involved in the making of a Tanjore Painting. The drawing of the primary sketch of the image on the base (cloth pasted over a wooden base) is the first step. Seasoned solid wooden planks were linked on which paper or a piece of cloth was fixed by using tamarind seed paste. The second step involves the mixing of chalk powder or zinc oxide with water-soluble adhesive and applying it on the base. Next, the outline was drawn by tracing the original hand drawn figures.

Earlier, artists used natural colours like vegetable dyes. These days, artists use chemical paints which augment the sharpness and provide better shade contrasts to the paintings. What has endured in this convention is the choice of colours for paintings. For outlines, dark brown is commonly used. Red is usually favoured for the background. Scholars say that a red background is the characteristic mark of Tanjore paintings, but green is also sometimes used.

The artist favour the use of bright luminous colours as these paintings were originally intended to be kept in poorly lit rooms, temples, and homes for worshipping. The glowing presence of these bright and colourful paintings are breath-taking. The Tanjore style paintings are also drawn on glass by using different techniques. The basic drawing is then embellished with precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, glass pieces and gold. To further enhance the effect, parts of the painting are painted in bright colours and the relief work is covered with real 22 karat gold leaf!

Furthermore, Tanjore paintings are enriched with ornate beautiful frames.

Nowadays, Tanjore paintings are also created by a team of artisans comprising of a skilled embosser, a visage impressionist, 24 karat gold leaf guilder and a master artist who focuses on painting the faces with the precise expressions. The rich vibrant colour schemes, dashes of gold, semi-precious stones and exquisite artistic work are some of the unique physiognomies of these paintings.

The main theme of Tanjore paintings are typically based on Indian Mythology. This art of painting flourished at a time when fine-looking and prominent temples were being constructed by rulers of several dynasties. The main Hindu God and Goddesses figures in Tanjore paintings are always painted in the centre and the faces are crafted divine. The old Tanjore painting artists limited their scope to divine figures. The modern ones have, of course, no need to do so.

It is very common to spot Tanjore paintings decorate arcades in luxury hotels and lobbies in corporate offices. These paintings are also popular in homes among contemporary Indian women who love to showcase their artistic inclination. Tanjore paintings are entrenched in tradition and still pioneering within limits. There are many devoted artists in Tamil Nadu who still keep this beautiful form of art alive by bringing new innovations to it…….

Pictures courtesy: Google maps,,,

Posted by Gauri Arts

Gauri Arts Team

2 Comments To "The Rich Indian Art form - Tanjore Paintings"

gowtham On 19.11.2017
History of Tanjore painting: Tanjore Art takes its origin form the murals of the Vijayanagar period (1500-1600 AD) acquired its robust forms, architectural details and vibrant colors in this period. The Maratha rule in the next two centuries brought a distinctive style change to the paintings. Royal Maratha artists combined the existing mural style with amazing details characterized by the exquisite workmanship of precious stones and gold leaves. The Tanjore painting was practiced by two main communities namely - the Rajus of Tanjore & Trichy, the Naidus of Madurai. With the decline of dynastic rule, the artists (Rajus), divided into 3 groups one heading to Vuyaioor, second group to Mysore, and the third stayed on at Tanjore. Reply to this comment
ashta laxmi On 11.12.2016
Tanjore paintings take almost 4-6 months to be made. You really made it like an effortless task. loved the blog! See @ Reply to this comment
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