Tanjore Paintings - Where Creativity is a Tradition

Framed paintings of Child Krishna in vibrant colours and decorated with glitzy gold foils and embedded pieces of semi-precious stones or glass beads are found in almost every traditional as well as modern Tamil home.

Tanjore paintings are quite commonplace in any typical South India home. Although many modern versions of these traditional paintings are seen these days in art galleries, they are still rooted in tradition. Because when it comes to Tanjore paintings creativity is a tradition. You might find a few changes in the style but most of the traditions remain unchanged. This is because this unique art does not facilitate change or individual innovation unlike other Indian paintings.

A kind of sacredness is also associated with these paintings mainly because the subjects of these paintings are mostly Hindu Gods and Goddesses, and saints. But now Muslim and even Christian Gods are also the central figures of these paintings. However, that is quite rare. 

Interestingly, Tanjore paintings have an antique look and value. These paintings evolved in the mid 16th century, and dates back to the Gupta period of circa 320 to 550 CE. Thanjavur under the Maratha rule assumed new life from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Many new changes in the art and cultural scene were witnessed during this period mainly due to the influences from the West as well as from North India. It was during the Maratha period that Thanjavur painting rose in popularity.

Even now, a few artists are using the traditional methods to make these paintings. However, they have started experimenting with the themes and execution. Having said that, the stories are mostly based on the ancient texts and the compositional harmony remains unchanged. The classical features of a Thanjavur painting like the stylised eyes of the godly, human, and animal figures, its decorative gold ornamentation, and the etched out figures have visual depth. Today, most of the artists follow the tradition to the smallest detail with slight deviations to the central figures. That is why you will find the same deity in various poses, different facial expressions and ornaments.  Their weapons and arms may also have variations.

Tanjore paintings are also influenced by the Nayaka period paintings and sculptures in Thanjavur. In fact, the rounded figures that you find in traditional Tanjore paintings are owing to the influence of their Nayaka ancestors. A number of craft works in metal found in the temples built during this period have also influenced the gold gilding technique that we see in these paintings. 

It also has European influences, especially in the depiction of the pedestals and curtains. And its narratives come from mural paintings.

Because of these influences, its antique look, and its adherence to traditional methods in its making, a Tanjore painting is a collector’s piece. They find a prime place in plush drawing-rooms as well as corporate offices not only in India but abroad as well.

You will find exquisite Tanjore paintings online in different sizes. Shop for these paintings at the privacy of your homes. They will be delivered at the place of your choice. They are just perfect to give a traditional touch to your home. Tanjore paintings, which you will find online, also make a perfect gift for a wedding or a house warming ceremony or any other festive occasion.