Thanjavur Painting

Indian Paintings

Before we travel, I usually research the destination for what it has to offer not only in terms of sightseeing but also for its food, culture, and shopping attractions. During one such travel to Thanjavur in Central Tamilnadu, I was glad to know that the city is home to the much revered traditional art form of Thanjavur Paintings. Nowadays, it is also known as Tanjore Painting world over. Tanjore is the anglicised name of Thanjavur.

I am no art connoisseur but I like to collect mementos of my travels time and again. Recently, I acquired a Thanjavur Painting and before that I laid my hands on a Jaipur Miniature (click on the link and scroll down to know more about Jaipur Miniature) while on a trip to Rajasthan. Both are masterpieces of art manifesting the cultural intricacies of their respective regions.

India is culturally and traditionally diverse and this diversity is reflected in the variety of art forms that emerges from these distinct regions. Each region and state has a different style of painting that reflects its ethos. Madhubani comes from the Mithila region of Bihar, Pattachitra from Odisha, Pahari style from the Himalayan region, Warli painting from Maharashtra, Gond from Madhya Pradesh and the list continues.

These art forms and paintings help us to not only decorate our homes and Pooja rooms but at the same time help us appreciate and contribute towards our numerous ancient styles of art that are on the verge of neglect and anonymity. It is high time that we patronise these ancient Indian arts before they get lost in the complexities of this modern world.

The Thanjavur (Tanjore) Paintings

A Thanjavur Painting of Lord Ganesha with the use gold foil and gems in it.
Thanjavur Painting of Lord Ganesha embellished with gold and semiprecious stones.

The Thanjavur paintings took shape in the late 16th century under the patronage of the Marathas of Thanjavur and were nurtured by the patron rulers from thereon. The paintings are known for the use of 22K gold foils along with precious and semiprecious stones to give it an elegant look. The specialty of these paintings are that the gold never loses its sheen and retains its lustre for generations together.

Rich vivid colours are used on gessoed (primed) canvas which is pasted on a piece of wooden plank (usually teak or jackfruit wood) using Arabic gum. The subjects are usually Hindu gods and goddesses from the Puranas who are placed in the centre of the canvas. Secondary subjects are aligned next to a delineated space such as a mantapa or a chhatri next to the main subject.

Where to buy Thanjavur Paintings?

You don’t want to buy a fake Thanjavur painting which costs you quite a bit of money. So good research is needed before you buy such traditional paintings which are available literally everywhere. When I entered Chola Impressions in Thanjavur to check out the store, I understood that it is the only ISO certified store in entire India that manufactures and sells Thanjavur paintings. They have a workshop behind their shop where they have been making Thanjavur paintings as a family tradition for generations now.

They do provide an authenticity certificate as well along with the purchase with the registered ISO number on it. One can order online from here as well from any corner of the globe.

The paintings displayed there that day ranged from 3k to around 35k. However, I am sure one can customise the paintings and the subjects as to their liking and the prices might vary accordingly.

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