Tanjore painting describes the court (darbar) of a great Vaishnava and the
destroyer of the material world, Lord Shiva. He not only is a great ascetic or
yogi but is also a dutiful husband and father. The special characteristic of
Tanjore paintings is their aesthetic look due to the embellishment with pure
gold studded with tiny shining stones.
Set in a
special teakwood frame with beautiful carvings, the painting gloriously depicts
Lord Shiva seated on a throne set above a couple of stairs covered with a red
carpet. The white clouds float in the sky as they welcome the sun and the moon
together to glow over them. Mahadev sits in lalitasana and is unprecedently
clad in a bright yellow dhoti. He who wears a serpent around his neck is now
adorned with long and thick neckpieces, and in place of his matted hair being
gathered as a crown, a jeweled crown is worn on his head. He lifts his lower
right hand in Abhaya Mudra (the gesture of fearlessness) while his upper right
hand holding an axe. The eternal consort and the internal potency of Lord
Shiva, Goddess Parvati, is seated on his lap. She is graciously attired in a
saree and places her right hand over the lord’s shoulder. The people assembled
in the darbar humbly fold their before the lord and the goddess. Among them,
Lord Kartikeya, the elder son of Lord Shiva in his six-headed and four-armed
form can also be seen folding his hands. Their second son Lord Ganesha stands
before them in a humble state. The great Narad Muni also stands beside Goddess
Parvati and smiles while the glorification of Lord Shiva takes place. Nandi,
the faithful mount of the lord, sits and serves his master’s lotus feet.
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.
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend