Updated: Jul 9, 2022
Tanjore or Thanjavur Art is a classical South Indian painting style that originated from the city of Thanjavur. The art was inspired by a period in 1600 AD when the Nayaks of Thanjavur encouraged the art under the rule of the Vijayanagara Rayas. It mainly depicts Hindu religious themes in temples. It is known for its famous gold coating.
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Tanjore painting was influenced by Indian art from the sixteenth century when the Vijayanagara Rayas used the Nayaka monarchs to run their enormous empire in South India. The hero was regarded as a patron of the arts and literature.
Maratha monarchs supported the blossoming of arts and artists after establishing Maratha rule in the region in 1676. Tanjore painting blossomed and grew into the shape and style that we remember now during this time period.
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With the fall of Maratha's rule, the British who came to Tanjore in the wake of the Mysore Wars of 1767–99 patronized Tanjore artists.
In 1773, a British outpost was established at Tanjore and it became a base for British troops. Indian artists in and around Tanjore produced sets of paintings for the company's personnel over the next century.
The Tanjore paintings are known as Palagai Padam - which means "picture on a wooden plank".
Tanjore paintings are known for their vibrant colors and gold leaf embellishment, as well as the use of cut glass, pearls, and precious and semi-precious stones. Chemical paints gradually replaced natural pigments such as vegetable and mineral dyes.
Common subjects in Tanjore paintings include depictions of child Krishna, the god Rama, as well as other gods and goddesses, saints, and Hindu mythology.
The inspiration for this art was drawn from various art forms such as classical dance, music, and literature. The most popular themes include depictions of Krishna on a swing with a bowl of butter, Lord Ganesha seated on a throne, infant Ganesha with a Shiva linga, pendants Krishna, and Yashoda and Krishna.
Over the years, apart from Jain, Muslim, and Sikh festivities, paintings of flora and fauna also started getting included in this style of painting.
Tanjore painting, like any other art form, has evolved over time. Tanjore paintings are now integrated into some of the richest and most artistically designed sarees in the South. These paintings were given as gifts on special occasions like weddings and birthdays, in addition to being decorative ornaments.
Author: Pratichi Rai Editor: Rachita Biswas