Antique Tanjore paintings are one of the finest examples of the country's rich art and cultural heritage. These paintings originated back in the 16th century, and their appeal continues to this day among artists and art lovers. The distinct plumpness of features, the vivid usage of colors, the inclusion of gold foil and semi-precious stones make these paintings in demand even to this day. So, if you plan to decorate your place with a painting that stands out and speaks of luxury and elegance, Tanjore paintings are the right fit for you.
About antique Tanjore paintings: An Example of Exemplary Art From South India
Here are all the details you need before investing in a Tanjore painting for your home or office.
Brief history of Tanjore painting
Before you start looking for Thanjavur paintings online, wouldn't you want to know about its rich and illustrious history?
Tanjore has all the reasons to boast highly of its rich cultural heritage. The city of Tanjore was located at a distance of nearly 300 km from Chennai (erstwhile Madras), the capital city of Tamil Nadu. It was the cultural seat of the Gupta Empire and attained the peak of cultural development around the early 18th century.
It became the home to some of the most world-famous temples and sanctums that now come under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. The brilliant murals and sculptures on the temple walls of Tanjore depict the ancient and rich history of the glorious Chola dynasty that ruled over the districts of Trichy, Madurai, and Thanjavur in the 16th century.
Thanjavur has many gems to boast of, and Thanjavur paintings online are one of them. These paintings are globally acknowledged for the unique and indigenous way of making a 3D impact of each artwork. The Chola kings, who reigned over south India for the better half of the 16th century, propagated the Tanjore paintings. You might find Thanjavur paintings online nowadays, but back in that era, the Naidus of Madurai, Rajus of Tanjore and Tiruchirappalli, Nayakas of the Vijayanagar empire, and Maratha princes patronized these paintings.
The Cholas were the greatest lovers of sculpture and art. So, naturally, you cannot take your eyes off those colossal temples and their Dravidian style architecture when you are on a trip to Tamil Nadu. The same brilliance and skills are depicted in the Tanjore paintings. So, wouldn't you want to bring a piece of South Indian craftsmanship home?
Features noticed in Tanjore paintings
Antique tanjore paintings are popularly termed as 'Palagai Padam.' It means pictures drawn on wooden planks because most of these pictures are drawn on solid wood boards. This indigenous ancient art form has a divine approach because the subject of most paintings are gods and goddesses intricately adorned with precious ornaments and filled with bright colors.
Back in those days, the kings, princes, and nobles got precious gems like rubies and diamonds to embellish the portraits. At present, Thanjavur paintings online have semi-precious Jaipur stones used for that purpose. The portraits get pasted on 24 Carat gold foil, and the rest of the space is filled with the most vibrant colors.
Another distinguishable feature in all the Tanjore paintings is that the faces of the figurines and idols are plump. It brings a kind of pristineness in the look of all the Tanjore paintings that you will see.
Though antique tanjore paintings are heavily entrenched in the cultural heritage of the place that it comes from, the painters use their imagination and skill to craft masterpieces based on that art form. These paintings are mostly based on different idols and stories of Hindu mythology. You will find several paintings showing Lord Krishna as a baby. The other major mythological events depicted are the coronation of Shri Rama, the infatuated gestures of Krishna and Radha, the marriage of Meenakshi, and so on.
The ones who paint these ethnic paintings make each portrait so that they have a unique 3D look. Till today, the paintings are used as gifts on different occasions like Pongal, Diwali, and so on. Also, they are highly in demand as décor pieces for corporate offices and residential apartments. The brilliant gems, generous use of vibrant colors, and a splash of gold leaves have a splendid impact in any room.
The process of making the masterpiece
From the earlier times to the modern days when you can find Thanjavur paintings online, making such a magnum opus is anything but easy. It involves a series of steps, though the most challenging part is making the canvas.
So, the process involves three steps:
- Firstly, a layout is made on the canvas, which is typically a soft cloth.
- Secondly, zinc oxide or chalk dust gets mixed with a water-soluble adhesive and Arabic gum to create a mucky paste. This fixative is put on a thin muslin cloth and a wooden plank.
- Finally, the layout created at the first stage of making the artwork is meticulously and gradually decked with different add-ons.
The other usual things that you will find in authentic Thanjavur paintings online are rich colors, laces, semi-precious gems, and cut glass. To enhance the beautiful effect of these paintings, 24-carat gold foils are put on different parts of the painting, while the rest of the parts are filled up with glowing hues to go with the brilliance of the painting.
Because of premium quality gold foil usage, an original Tanjore painting tends to last for generations without being damaged. All the effort into making even a medium-sized painting makes it worth the price. After all, you are paying for the beauty of the painting and the effort that goes into making it.
Difference between Tanjore paintings and other paintings
Many people look for Thanjavur paintings online because they are completely different from all other types of paintings. If you look at the paintings found in North India, the difference in themes, materials, and subject is evident. Let's look at some of the most important differences between Tanjore paintings and other paintings.
The most important difference between antique tanjore paintings and other paintings is the theme. As such, the paintings in Northern India were based on varied themes like kings, wars, etc. Some religious influences, such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam.
On the other hand, Tanjore paintings are mainly based on religious themes, such as Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, and the likes.
The color usage:
The color usage is something that makes the paintings from Tanjore stand out. You will notice the most vibrant use of colors in these paintings. The color palette ranges from the deepest hues of orange, green, and red to pink and yellow.
Now, this does not mean that North Indian paintings are devoid of colors. However, the paintings are restricted to the use of two to three colors in different depths and richness.
One of the most striking features of the paintings in South India is the use of gold. Tanjore paintings are made with 24-carat gold foil that makes the paintings so brilliant. In the authentic Thanjavur paintings online, you will still find the use of gold foil.
Moreover, even gemstones like rubies were placed on the paintings back in the day. Nowadays, the artists have moved on to semi-precious Jaipur stones. On the other hand, the use of gold is absent in the paintings found in all other parts of India.
The base used for Tanjore paintings is wooden planks. Earlier, the artists used to go for teak wooden planks, though now these paintings are made on plywood.
However, the paintings found in North India were mainly done on walls, palm leaves, clothes, paper, etc. The use of wooden planks never really caught on in other parts of India.
Several cultures influenced the paintings in North India as the states were invaded time and again by people from different parts of the world. So, in these paintings, you will get to see the prominent influence of Persian and Iranian culture.
But the influence for Tanjore paintings is purely the Hindu religion. These are the kind of paintings that are purely indigenous in nature.