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Tanjore Painting

Charles Gold, the British chronicler in his book Oriental Drawings, talks about ‘Moochys or Artists of India’ who dabbled in Tanjore paintings. Beautifully done in embellishments of semi-precious stones, pearls, and glass pieces, Tanjore paintings give the artwork a 3D appeal that is visually stunning and culturally rich. Originating from a village Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu around 1600 AD, and drawing inspiration from the paintings done by Nayakas, Tanjore paintings flourished under Maharaja Serfoji ||. These paintings are traditionally done by the Raju community and the Naidu community. The painting is usually centered around mythological figures, celebrated by its famous gold coating. Sketches and paintings depicting episodes in the Hindu Puranas as well as other religious texts are arranged around a central figure or figures surrounded by numerous subsidiary figures, themes, and subjects. They sometimes also included Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religious, and even secular subjects in this fold.


Depending on the patron’s interest, urgency, and financial capability, the artists produced a wide array of paintings on a variety of subjects and of differing quality. According to the Indian tradition of painting, most master craftsmen chose to remain anonymous and did not sign their paintings out of a measure of reverence and humility for their craft.


In the past, artists have used natural colors such as vegetable and mineral dyes, but today with the advent of modernism, artificial paints have gradually taken over. The major specialty of Tanjore paintings is the stunning color scheme of vivid reds, blues, and greens. There are two purposes behind the liberal use of gold foil on Thanjavur paintings: it enhances the beauty of the painting and extends its life. Fake gold foils look similar to genuine gold, making the distinction difficult for consumers to discern. This and the paintings’ richness and intricacy make them stand out from other Indian art styles.


Thanjavur painting or popularly known as Tanjore art is famous and has its own share in sales, with artists selling Tanjore painting online, and fine art painting or fine art drawing. In addition, it is important to remember that Thanjavur art was functional, in that it was intended for a specific purpose and was made in response to a specific request from a customer. 


The future of the Tanjore paintings is bright due to the efforts taken to revitalize them. This traditional visual art comes under the label of fine arts. The Thanjavur paintings are being revived through programs, exhibitions, workshops, as well as training camps organized by many institutions, including state governments. Materials used have also changed according to cost and availability as plywood, for example, has by and largely replaced teak wood and jackwood, as well as synthetic paint and glue being preferred over the natural and mineral colors and other traditional components while Muck powder, a fine powder of chalk, provides a 3D modern Tanjore paintings, we also notice the inclusion of modern subjects and themes. In recent years, artists have combined this old form of art with other styles to produce mixed media art. Tanjore paintings, for example, are also done on mirrors, glass, and canvas. This kind of Himalayan fine art has a part in modern Tanjore painting and the sub-branches it produces. Due to the fact that this gold foil design is unique to this traditional art, this same design is recreated on a variety of media.

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