Interesting facts about Tanjore Paintings

Interesting facts about Tanjore Paintings

1.Thanjavur paintings are known for vibrant, rich colours, glittering gold foils, simple iconic composition overlaid on subtle but broad gesso work and inlay of precious and semi-precious gems as well as glass beads.

2.The paintings are a beautiful combination of various cultures and dynasties. In Thanjavur paintings the influences of Vijayanagar, Deccan, Maratha and even European style of paintings can be seen.

3.Thanjavur paintings are based on stories from religious texts, mainly Hindu Puranas. Hence, the central figure will be saints, Hindu gods and goddesses. Episodes from religious texts were visually interpreted, traced or sketched, and painted with the main deity placed in the centre of the picture. The other supplementary figures, subjects and themes surround the central figure.

4.Secular subjects are also depicted in Thanjavur paintings. Today, you will find Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Jain subjects in these paintings. 

5.Since they are done on flat wooden planks Thanjavur paintings are also known as “palagaipadam” -- palagai means plank made of wood, and padam means picture.

6.These paintings are mainly bought to adorn houses and puja rooms. For the art lovers all over the country they are a collector’s item. 

7.Tanjore paintings are rooted in tradition and are considered sacred. Not much innovation is done on these paintings.

8.Thanjavur paintings are popular not only in India but abroad as well. The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the largest museum of decorative arts and design, houses a large collection of Thanjavur paintings. A fine collection of Thanjavur paintings can be spotted in the National Museum of Copenhagen as well.

9.Thanjavur paintings are crafted with meticulous care and are unique.  The embellishments made with precious and semi-precious stones are what set them apart from other Indian paintings.

10.These paintings have a three dimensional effect, and appear in various sizes. They are made in miniature sizes as well as to cover an entire wall.

11.As the canvas for these paintings wood of the jackfruit tree was used. Now, wooden panels and plywood are used as the base. A paste of limestone is applied on plywood, which is then bound and let to dry.

12.Diamonds and rubies were traditionally used to embellish these paintings, but now they are replaced with glass or semi-precious stones. Similarly, chemical paints are used instead of vegetable dyes.

13.A large number of Thanjavur painters even today follow the traditional methods of paintings.

14.For centuries, Thanjavur paintings have brought to life a vibrant cultural heritage.

15.Thanjavur paintings are gifted as souvenirs during festive occasions.