Posts in the ‘Indian Art’ series on my blog are my endeavor to bring back the lost charm of various ancient Indian art forms and to let more and more people know about the rich culture and heritage of India.
Tanjore or Thanjavur is an age-old art form of South India and got its name from ‘Thanjavur‘ a place in Tamil Nadu where this art form originated and it was the capital of the Chola Empire. The origin of this art form dates back to 1600AD.
Tanjore originated during the reign of ‘Nayaks’ ‘Marathas‘ and ‘Cholas‘. Marathas encouraged the art form and it flourished during the 16th to 17th century.
These paintings are very ancient and miniature kind of paintings. Paintings mainly consist of a main figure usually a deity, the figure appears prominent in paintings with a well-rounded body and cherubic face. The main figure is enclosed in a meticulously crafted enclosure in the form of an arch or curtain. Paintings are bright and vibrant.
The most striking feature of the paintings is that they are decorated using 22/24 carat gold foil, semi-precious stones, cut glasses, and pearls to give it a rich look.
The theme of the painting is mainly Hindu God and Goddesses, mainly Krishna, Balaji, Lakshmi & Ganesha. The paintings are bright and the faces of the main figures are made divine.
There are several steps involved in making Tanjore painting.
1. Canvas Preparation: Canvas is prepared by pasting a clean cotton/muslin cloth (that is dipped in glue+water solution) on plywood. Let it dry. Now apply a coat of chalk powder paste (Chalk powder + Water + Glue) on the canvas and let it dry for a day. Now rub the canvas with emery paper to make the canvas surface smooth.
2. Choose and then trace the design on canvas using carbon paper.
3. Muck work or embossing: Muck or paste of chalk powder + Arabic gum + glue is then applied to the desired area of the painting using a round brush. Let it dry
4. Gem setting or decorating: Now stick stones, gems, and pearls on the design and let it dry for a day.
Apply one more layer of embossing paste to make the painting more beautiful. use a ball pen to make designs on embossed areas. Then comes the most important step of the painting, the pasting of gold foil on the embossed design. Apply glue on the embossed area and paste gold foil carefully on it and press gently with your thumb, cut the extra part of the foil using a cutter. Now remove the gold foil that is pasted over stones, gems, and pearls. You can use any needle like a sharp object to remove the foil that is over the stones.
5. The last step is painting the remaining area of the painting, like the body of the main figure and the background. The body is painted mainly in white color with a tint of pink or blue. Slight shading is done on the main figure. The background is painted in bright colors like red, green, or blue. Once the painting is complete it is then framed.
I found Tanjore paintings breathtakingly beautiful and the process of making these paintings makes them even more special. This framed art in any place never fails to add charm and beauty. Hope you enjoyed reading about this art.