Exploring Tamilnadu Handicrafts – Bronze Idols, Metal-ware, Wood Craft, Tanjore Painting

Tamilnadu has a rich history of culture and tradition that has evolved over centuries. Perhaps the famous depiction of Tamil culture is in the handicrafts of Tamilnadu. By ceaselessly promoting the various ethnic art forms, simultaneously preserving antique artifacts from Chola and Pandya dynasties by reproducing their replicas, Tamilnadu has become a world-known destination for visitors of art in search of fine handiworks of India, such as life-like Stone Sculptures, Celestial figures in Bronze, Brass lamps, Rosewood Carvings, Sandalwood Carvings, country wood Carvings, Tanjore Art Plates, Tanjore Picture Paintings and more.

Chola Bronze Idols

The ancient craft of bronze or “panchaloha” casting of icons which reached its apogee of excellence under the Cholas is done by the cire per due or lost wax method. The icon is first made in wax and three layers of clay applied on the wax model which is then allowed to dry. When perfectly dry, the clay coated mould is heated over an open ground oven and the molten wax forced out through appropriate holes in the icons. When the mould is completely drained of wax, molten metal is poured into the mould and allowed to set. The mould is broken after a few days and the bronze icon emerges. Chiseling, detailing and polishing follow the process. The icon is now complete, the only one of its kind in creation.

The best bronze icons are still made in the old Chola Centres of Swamimalai, Madurai and Tiruchirapalli strictly according to Shilpa Shastra rules.


Nachiarkovil in Thanjavur district is famous for light brown sand called vandal on the banks of the river Cauvery that is ideally suited for making moulds. Owing to the growing scarcity of copper, the bell-metal workers of the state have now switched to brass ware. Some of the articles cast are vases in different shapes, tumblers, water containers, ornamented spittoons, food cases, bells, candle stands, kerosene lamps, picnic carriers, and a large variety of lamps. Of these, a few items like tumblers, food cases and milk containers are in bell metal and the rest are in brass. A special jar with a cashew-nut design and named after it has become a kind of hallmark of Nachiarkovil.


In Tamil Nadu there are a number of places noted for wood craft. Virudunagar is famous for the traditional style. It has now started making articles for household use. Devakottai and Karaikkudi make traditional panels in different sizes. Madurai is famous for its rosewood carvings. The style is marked by its bold forms, the details being minutely and painstakingly worked out. Tables with the top covered with floral motifs or lovely parrots or panels with epic scenes are the most outstanding examples of this type of craft.

Tanjore Gold Leaf Painting

Featuring the pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses and stories from Ramayana and Krishna leela themes, the classic Tanjore paintings present perfect harmony and rhythm in composition and blending of colors. The specialty of Tanjore paintings, which originate decorate and embellish the figures on the paintings.d in the courts of the Maratta rulers of Thanjavur, lies in their ornamentation. Gold leaf, gilted metal pieces and semi-precious stones.

The best of Tanjore gold leaf paintings are available in Chennai where traditional artists with an eye to authenticity and detailing reproduce superior Tanjore paintings using the original vegetable pigments.

If you are interested in learning Tanjore Painting , refer Tanjore Painting classes

Places to buy Tamilnadu Handicraft Items in Chennai

Poompuhar (Govt of Tamilnadu)

818, Anna Salai
Chennai – 600 002, Tel: 044-2852 0624, 2855 0157


Cottage Industries Exposition

Located opposite to Taj Coromandel Hotel
118, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam
Chennai – 600 034

Victoria Technical Institute
765, Anna Salai
Tel: +(91) (44) 8523153


Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan
#44(Old #844), Anna Salai
Chennai – 600 002
Tel:+(91)-(44)-2858 4312 / 2858 4313

Cholamandal Artists Village
Injambakkam, Chennai – 600 041.
Phone : +91-44-24490092

Gujarat Emporium
New No. 133, Old No. 67, Royapettah High Road, Chennai-4.
Phone : +91-44-24984440

Gurubaran Tanjore Art Gallery
7, R K Mutt Road, Mylapore, Chennai.
Phone : +91-44-24941017

Kerala Bell Metal & Handicrafts
141, Alwarthirunagar Annexe, Chennai – 87.
Phone : +91-44-23775380

New Kashmir Arts & Crafts
Mount Road, Spencer Plaza
Chennai – 600 002

A1, Oakwood Apartments 25,
Anderson Road,
Chennai – 600 006

Ajanta Arts & Crafts
136, Anna Salai, Chennai.
Phone : +91-44-28527704

151, Anna Salai, Chennai – 2.
Phone : +91-44-28461137

Posted on November 25, 2011, in Art, Attractions, Heritage of Chennai, Hobby and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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