Padmasana and gracefully clad in a saree with beautiful embroidery and borders –
elaborately and precisely embossed with pure gold, Goddess Gajalakshmi is
portrayed in a magical way. She is one among the eight primary forms of
Lakshmi, widely known as Ashtalakshmi, and is the bestower of the power of
royalty, prosperity, and abundance in the lives of her devotees. But since
Lakshmi is the eternal consort of Lord Vishnu, she is always engaged in His
loving service, and therefore, anyone who worships the Lord receives very
easily the special mercy of Gajalakshmi. The fact that this painting is
handmade and decorated with 24 Karat gold makes it stand out from ordinary
Each of her
two upper arms hold a full-blown lotus flower while the lower hands are in the
boon granting Varada Mudra and Abhaya Mudra (the hand gesture of fearlessness).
She is flanked by a white and nicely decorated elephant (gaja) on her either
side. They stand on their hind legs and lift their trunks high as if honoring
the Goddess with all their capacity. The Goddess’s molten gold complexioned
body is bedecked with several ornaments and a huge jeweled crown adorns her
head. As she sits in the padmasana posture, the multitude of pleats in her
saree gracefully spread between her folded legs. Her soft and gentle smile
describes her extremely merciful nature towards her devotees. Also, the
outlines have been decorated with a sequence of red and green stones which
makes it more special and aesthetic.
Tanjore painting is a traditional form of art in the South Indian
style and was started by the inhabitants of a small town known as
Thanjavur of Tamil Nadu. This gives it another name called
“Thanjavur painting”. This painting draws its figures, designs,
and inspiration from the time when Vedic culture was prevalent in
India. Certain remarkable features of a Tanjore painting
distinguish it from other paintings. Some of these are pure gold
or gold foil coating on gesso work, the use of rich and vivid
colors, and the inlay of cut-glass or semi-precious and precious
stones. The subjects of most of the Tanjore paintings are Hindu
Gods, Goddesses, and saints. The main devotional figure is
portrayed in the central portion of the painting and is usually
surrounded by various secondary figures.
The classic Tanjore paintings are done on wooden planks and hence
are also referred to as Palagai Padam in South India (Palagai =
Wooden plank, Padam = Picture). Creating a masterpiece is never an
easy task but the skilled artists of Thanjavur have been following
the tradition of making timeless Tanjore paintings for decades.
The making process begins with preparing the wooden board or
canvas. The size of the board depends upon the choice of the
patron. The next step is to paste cardboard over the wooden board
and then a cotton fabric is stretched and pasted upon it using
Now that the cloth is attached to the wooden panel, a rough sketch
of the motifs and figure is drawn onto the fabric. After this, a
paste of chalk powder and water-soluble adhesive is evenly applied
over the base and smoothed.
Thereafter, the outlines which were made or traced using a stencil
are now ready to be beautified and decked with various add-ons.
The usual materials for decoration are cut-glass, pearls,
semi-precious and precious gems, gold leaf, and laces. 22 or 18
Karat Gold leaves and gems of varied hues are especially inlaid in
areas like pillars, arches, walls, thrones, and dresses.
In the final step, the rest of the painting is filled with rich
and striking colors such as shades of red, blue, and green.
Formerly, the artists used natural colors like vegetable and
mineral dyes instead of chemical paints. The entire painting is
then cleaned and refined to give a flawless finished look.
Since the making of a single piece of Tanjore painting requires a
complex and elaborate process, the artists usually take at least
one or two months to complete it. The use of pure gold foil and
gems for beautification is a characteristic of an authentic
Tanjore painting. Due to this, Tanjore paintings last for
generations without getting tarnished and are much more expensive
than general paintings. Though the art form has undergone various
changes and technique modifications over the years, it continues
to attract the hearts of art lovers.
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