(with Uma-Parvati) or Uma-Maheshvara- the heavenly togetherness of
Shiva-Shakti, Purusha, and Prakriti, the primordial male and female elements in
one icon are the Hindu artist’s vision of an ever-blissful source of energy for
the creation (Srishti). The proximity between the universal mother and father,
Shiva and Parvati is lovingly presented in this one-of-its-kind Tanjore painting, which depicts Nandi seated on the ground relaxedly, carrying the
divine pair on its back. Shiva and Parvati too, appear at ease, relishing in
each other’s company, in a Tanjore artwork that exudes divine paternal
affection and matrimonial bliss.
Shiva’s bull mount is delineated in a pristine white shade with small horns,
large animated eyes, and a countenance that looks as if smiling at the delight
of being a witness to the harmony of Shiva and Shakti. Gold ornaments- headgear
and a series of bells along with a Tripunda (Shaivite mark) embellish Nandi,
fitting his status as the trusted guard and mount of Shiva. His gaze seems to
be fixed on its Lord Shiva who is seated in the center of this Shiva and
Parvati Tanjore painting, four-armed, holding his Damru (drum) and fire in the
secondary hands, and Devi Uma with his left hand.
and Parvati in this vibrant Tanjore artwork are dressed in fine attires- Shiva
taking the fineries of a king, with gold ornaments adorning his Jata (locks),
rows of necklaces, and a golden dhoti over his loincloth of tiger skin and Uma
wrapped in a lovely deep pink sari. The couple has wedding garlands around their
necks, underlining that the Tanjore painting of Shiva and Parvati is a
celebration of their wedding or Kalyanam, whose rituals are depicted in the
category of Tanjore paintings known as Meenakshi Kalyanam. The coming together
of Shiva and Shakti in Hinduism and Indian art tradition is a celebrated theme
as it marks an auspicious turn of events for the entire universe- the moment
when the primordial mother wedded the primordial father. A slight smile on
Shiva’s visage and the joyful expression of Maa Parvati capture the
paradisiacal charisma that the two radiate as Uma-Maheshvara.
structure with pairs of parrots, the bird mounts of Kamadeva (Hindu god of
love) with their feathers unfurled into flowing vines frame this exquisite
Tanjore painting. In the background which is painted in a deep maroon stands a
tree, full of blossoming flowers and parrots nestled in its lush greenery. The
presence of a parrot in this Tanjore Shiva Parvati painting is a symbolic festival of the success that Kamadeva
achieved by bringing Shiva and Shakti together, the divine event that continues to
inspire stunning artworks, like this.
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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