Tanjore Painting

Tanjore Paintings

Tanjore painting is one of the most popular and refined classical paintings from South India. The painting is native to Thanjavur or Tanjore, a city in  the State of Tamil Nadu. As a matter of fact, it originated under the rule of Marathas in the 16th century.

Tanjore,is famous for the the Brihadeshwara Temple built during the Chola reign in the 11th Century. The Tanjore painting is the craft shaped by the painters from Vijayanagar empire who migrated to Tanjore. Tanjore was under the rule of the Nayaks and the Maratha rulers then.

Available at Chennai:- VTI, Poompuhar, Srushti The Handicrafts Emporium, Rasi Silks

Shops in Delhi:- Central Cottage Industries, Poompuhar

Available at Pondicherry:- Amarane Art Gallery

What is Tanjore Painting?


A typical Tanjore painting is principally inspired by religion and centers around Hindu gods and goddesses.Hence you would find paintings of Krishna & Radha, Lord Rama, goddess Saraswati & so on.The concentrated composition, the use of gold foil and semi-precious  coloured stones in the painting is very distinctive.

Process of making Tanjore Painting

An introductory sketch of the image is drawn on a canvas or paper and is one of the first steps in the making of a Tanjore Painting. For example, the paper  is pasted over a wooden base. Later, chalk powder or zinc oxide is mingled with water-soluble adhesive and applied on the base. In other words, gesso, is a glue that is applied on the painting to hold the stones and gold foil in place.Further, the drawing is embellished with semi-precious coloured stones. The coloured  stones are placed on the painting one by one. Subsequently, the gold foil is cut into small squares and stuck on all the empty spaces. It is a time consuming process.  22k Gold foil has to be procured from an authentic jeweller. The gem stones are normally procured from Jaipur.

Artists predominantly use dark brown for outlines. However, as a traditional practice, a dark blue colour is employed  as the background colour. Red is used at the bottom . These are traditional colours that highlight the gold coloured portrait.

Tanjore painting Vs Mysore Painting

Similar to Tanjore painting is Mysore painting . 24k Gold is used in Mysore painting and there are no semi precious coloured  stones on it. Hence,it is more gold work & colours that would be visible in the painting.Further, the  artists  concentrate on drawing out expressive eyes.The gold foil is used to embellish  and highlight the designs.Tanjore painting  & Mysore Painting  requires a lot of effort and there is   intensive work involved.

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