Tanjore Paintings

Tanjore painting is an exquisite art form, developed under the Chola dynasty. The Tanjore school of paintings dates back to the 16th century, however, only a few existing paintings belong to that period. Most of the paintings that exist today are not even a hundred years old. These paintings are known for their colors, intricate workmanship and splendor.

They have this touch of aristocracy and a feel of the past because of their dazzling embellishments. The material used for making these paintings, namely, gold foils, pearls, semi-precious stones and ornate dresses make them most sought after, in places using traditional themes for interiors. Tanjore Art paintings adoring any wall enrich the ambiance & add elegance & charm.

This highly complicated art involves several processes; the board on which the work is done has to be first prepared by the artist, the board is built to last without losing its appearance. Waterproof and anti-termite plywood is used for the board, onto which the lining material is stuck. A paste made of chalk powder and fevicol (tamarind paste was used previously) is applied on the board, Copper Sulphate is then added as a disinfectant. Once that dries it is smoothened using sand paper, and then the board is ready to be worked on.

The required sketch is traced on the board with pencil and then the embossing takes place, this is done to give the 3d effect. The material used for embossing is a paste of chalk powder, raw limestone, Arabic gum and water. The necessary areas are projected using the brush and paste. In 4-5 hours, the skeletal work is ready. Next comes the ornamental work; semi-precious stones and glass pieces are stuck to form garlands, jewels, etc.

It is in the detail-oriented decoration of the Gods and Goddesses that the creativity of an artist is demonstrated. Gold foils are used lavishly to add to the opulence of these paintings. Finally, dyes are used to add vibrant colors to the figures in the paintings. Previously vegetable dyes were used but now poster colours are being used as a substitute. A beautiful frame made of teakwood is then selected to compliment the painting.

Chitra Ramesh, basically from Kerala but now settled in Chennai, is a talented artist who specialises in Tanjore paintings. She comes from a family of artists. Her father late Appukuttan Achary, won the National Award in the year 1965, for his ivory carving of the Chola Queen, which is now exhibited in the Delhi museum. Her works are mostly based on her father’s sketches. Advocate Ramanujam, is one of the many people who possess her creations.

The Karnataka Handicraft Corporation and Vanasidhi are the two organisations that sell her works. Some of her works, she sells directly to her clients. The Cosmopolitan Club had recently called on her to conduct an exhibition.

A very warm and friendly person, she conducts classes for those aspiring to learn this art, “no age limit”, she says! The timings are very flexible. And she claims that within eight classes one can learn to make Tanjore paintings. She provides all the material that is used for these paintings and at the end of the class; the student gets to take back his or her work.

Size of the board (in inches)     Fees for the class

8” by 10”                                           Rs 2000/-

10” by 12”                                         Rs 2750/-

12” by 15”                                         Rs 3250/-

15” by 18”                                         Rs 4000/-

18” by 24”                                         Rs 5250/-

She takes orders on request. She can be reached at the following address.

Be sure to inform her that you found this information on Chennai Focus.

Address: 1274, 68th Street, Korattur, Chennai 600080.  Phone: 625 5211.

Courtesy: Chennai Best

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Posted on November 15, 2011, in Art and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. History of Tanjore painting:

    Tanjore Art takes its origin form the murals of the Vijayanagar period (1500-1600 AD) acquired its robust forms, architectural details and vibrant colors in this period.

    The Maratha rule in the next two centuries brought a distinctive style change to the paintings.

    Royal Maratha artists combined the existing mural style with amazing details characterized by the exquisite workmanship of precious stones and gold leaves.

    The Tanjore painting was practiced by two main communities namely – the Rajus of Tanjore & Trichy, the Naidus of Madurai.

    With the decline of dynastic rule, the artists (Rajus), divided into 3 groups one heading to Vuyaioor, second group to Mysore, and the third stayed on at Tanjore.

    The styles developed were slightly different from each other. The emphasis at Tanjore was on studded gems & gold leaves. At Vuyaioor importance was on decorative garland. In Mysore the emphasis was on intricate painting.

  1. Pingback: Exploring Tamilnadu Handicrafts – Bronze Idols, Metal-ware, Wood Craft, Tanjore Painting « Chennai Focus – A Tabloid on Chennai

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