If ever Art has ardently wooed Beauty, nowhere is it more evident than in the paintings of Thanjavur. Every creation is truly a celebration of the beautiful. Rich, full bodied colours vie with exquisite filigree work to overwhelm the eye. The themes are figures of God, Krishna being the most frequently reproduced , but in various poses & depicting various stages of his life. Other Gods are depicted too. Today people are experimenting with birds, animals, building structures, etc.,
Thanjavur, lcated in the rich delta of the river Cauvery between Tiruchirapalli & Kumbakonam had been the centre of economical & cultural activities under the Nayaks of Vijayanagar dynasty, Sultan of Bijapur & lastly by Maratha rulers. Though Thanjavur was not the birth place of this art, this style of paintings developed here during the 18th century under Maratha rulers. As people & artists migrated to Tanjore from Mysore, Andhra, Bijapur, Maharashtra & Gujarat, the theme & style came to be largely influenced by various schools of arts & religious requirements, also coming under some Western & Chinese influence.
Seasoned wooden planks were joined on which paper or a piece of cloth was fixed by using tamarind seed paste. Locally available stone powder & unboiled lime powder wwere used to prepare the surface. Outline was drawn by tracing the original hand drawn figures. Semi-precious & precious stones, cut glasses etc., were placed to make the jewels for the figure. Apart from giving artificial gold colouring, gold & silver leaves were used to colour the costumes & jewellery and other decorative areas.
The pigments were prepared using locally available natual materials. The artists favoured bright luminous colours as the paintings were originally meant to be kept in poorly lighted rooms, temple, mutts and homes for worshipping. Tanjore style paintings are also drawn on glass by using different techniques. The characteristics of the Tanjore paintings are its brilliant colour scheme, decorative jewellery with stones and cut-glasses & its chubby larger-than-life figures.
The Marathas, who ruled Tanjore in the 18th and 19th centuries, adapted the Deccan style of painting to the local Nayak style and created the glittering Tanjore School of Painting. In these paintings, done in pure colors on wood, glass, mica or ivory, the characters tend to be pale and flat and the principals disproportionate to the setting. But the architectural features, jewelry, drapery and other embellishments are striking features.
They are all slightly raised by paste packing composed of fine sawdust and glue and covered with gold leaf, semi-precious stones and glass beads, giving the paintings their glitter. By Shading the inner side of the contours a stylized modeling is achieved. The themes are generally religious – deities of the Hindu pantheon - scenes from the life of Krishna, being the most popular subjects.
(Rated by 4 Council Members)