November 1, 2006 10:30pm CST
Welcome to the unique and colorful world of Thanjavur paintings. Tanjore Painting or Tanjavur Painting is a form of art developed in the Southern part of India in a place called Tanjore or Tanjavur. The Marathas ruled about 350 Km south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Tanjore, once capital of the Chola Empire. This school of paintings originated during the reign of the Marathas in the 16th and 17th century. In Mysore, Maharaja Mummadi Krishnarajendra Wodeyar patronized the art. Today, a few hundred dedicated artists mostly based in Tamil Nadu, India, keep this tradition alive. The early paintings were embedded with real diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. Presently, pure gold foils and semi precious stones are used to adorn the paintings. This form of art is unique. It uses a lot of precious stones and pure gold foils to fill in as ornaments and clothing of the figurines, mostly depicting Hindu Mythology Gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Parvathi, Krishna, Ganesh and others. These paintings are in great demand for decorating the living room and puja or prayer room of many. The portrayal of figures in these paintings is breathtakingly brilliant. Thanjavur paintings basically signify paintings created using a unique style and technique. A typical Thanjavur painting would consist of one main figure. This figure would be housed in an enclosure created by means of an arch, curtains etc. The painting would be made by the gilded and gem-set technique - a technique where gold leaves & sparkling stones are used to highlight certain aspects of the painting like ornaments, dresses etc. The painting would be bright & colourful and breathtakingly beautiful. The impact in a darkened room is that of a glowing presence. Over a period of time changes have occurred in the stylization. The technique is now more in use than the style. Traditional Thanjavur paintings are possessed as heirlooms.