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Home > City Resources > Arts & Antiques > TANJORE PAINTING


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 ambience & 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.

Author : M Mekala

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