Tamil Nadu is known for its traditional
ornate paintings, known as Tanjore paintings. This unique art form has its
origin from Tanjore in South India. The portrayal of figures in these
paintings is breathtakingly brilliant. The early paintings were embedded
with real diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. Presently, pure gold
foils and semi precious stones are used to adorn the paintings.
History Of The Art
Tanjore or Thanjavur as it is called today acquired its name from the ancient pronunciation of the place, which was then called "Thanjavoor". It was then the capital of the mighty Chola Empire. The Chola rulers besides being great warriors were builders of magnificent temples and great patrons of arts. It was against this setting that this highly specialised form of art with its characteristically beautiful ornamental relief work flourished.
The Tanjore School of Paintings dates back to the 16th century. However, there are only a few paintings that date back that far. The fact remains that most of the paintings that exist today are not even a hundred years old.
The Creation Of The Paintings
The creation of this painting involves a lot of dedication and several stages of meticulous work of art. The first step involves creating a base. The base is made of a cloth pasted over a wooden or a plywood base. Then a paste of chalk powder or zinc oxide mixed with some water-soluble adhesive is applied on the board. To create a smoother board a mild abrasive can be used.
After this begins the image making process. A preliminary sketch of the God is made on the board. After the drawing is made, decoration of the jewellery and the apparel is done with semi-precious stones. Semi-relief work is done with a paste of chalk powder and gum Arabic. Laces or threads are used to decorate the jewellery. On top of this, the gold foils are pasted. Finally, dyes are used to add vibrant colors to the figures in the paintings. A beautiful frame is then selected to accentuate the beauty of the painting.
The paintings are mostly of Gods and Goddesses because this art of painting flourished at a time when fine-looking and striking temples were being constructed by rulers of several dynasties. The figures in these paintings are large and the faces are round and divine. However, with the rebirth of this art in the 20th century, artists in addition to recreating the original Tanjore figures are also experimenting with more proportioned figures, birds, flowers, animals, etc.
The paintings are notable for their adornment in the form of semi-precious stones, pearls, glass pieces and gold. The rich vibrant colours, dashes of gold, semi-precious stones and fine artistic work are characteristics of these paintings. They add beauty and culture to a variety of surroundings and decor.