thanjavur paintings: A Timeless Art Form


Tanjore paintings are an art that lies with the concept of religions and their culture, tanjore paintings locally known as “palagai padam” include different styles and techniques to create something new and unique. In modern-day, Tanjore paintings are known for their innovative style, vibrant colors, iconic compositions, and rich looks.


The hallmark of these paintings is their depiction of deities from the Hindu religion’s iconography and mythology. Using embossed surfaces with glittering gold foil, glass beads, and semi-precious gemstones.


Understanding Tanjore Paintings:


Tanjore paintings are an art that portrays the history of India by showcasing various cultures in its paintings. Mostly the people who ruled the country from various parts and their dynasties “cultures and kings”.

It also explains the rich culture and history at the beginning of the painting practices, and then they eventually started painting their sculptures.


Origin And Evolution Of Tanjore Art:


The Tanjore Paintings have their roots in history from the Chola dynasty. In Tamil Nadu, they ruled the following places such as Thanjavur, Madurai, and Trichy in the 16th century. They preserved their vibrant culture and moral values from sculptures in paintings in the initial days.


Tanjore Painting is internationally known for generating 3D looks in every single artwork they do. They were patronized by Maratha princes, Nayakas of the Vijaya Nagar Empire, Rajus of Tanjore, and Thricirapalli and Naidus from Madurai.


Art historian Jaya Appaswamy’s book called “Thanjavur Painting of the Maratha Period” states the significant similarities between the panel pattern compositions of Vijayanagara murals and Thanjavur paintings. Vijayanagara style was also found in various elements of Chola and Chanakya elements.


Thanjavur art is also unique to Deccani paintings showcasing the Islamic neighbors of the Vijayanagar empire. This is because painters traveled from court to court to learn and imitate each other’s style.


Unique Features Of Tanjore Paintings:


The plumpness of the faces of the idols in the painting gives a pristine look that adds to the painting’s uniqueness although each painting is entrenched in the region’s cultural past from where it originated and is a unique Tanjore painting.


The most famous and unique feature of a Tanjore painting is it has a 3D property. To explain it further the painting has EMBOSS on it that encourages the painting to appear ELEVATED from the actual surface. A Tanjore painting has 10 processes Embossing is one of them.


Tanjore paintings have a unique feature of Embossing the paintings with real gold foil coating with 22-carat that never fades. Nowadays, many scams are going on the gold foil coating to make more profit. To confirm the original always check for ISO-Certified signs from the dealers.


Another unique feature of Tanjore’s painting is that the precise gesso work provides a 3-dimensional look to the painting. 


Diving into the Aesthetics of Tanjore Art:


The 3 Dimensional look coated with gold foil and other distinctive aesthetic features of Tanjore painting are explained in detail below.


The Use of Rich and Vibrant Colors:


Tanjore paintings boast a vibrant color palate, commonly featuring deep reds, blues, greens, and yellows. Their unique aesthetic appeal especially comes from the use of natural minerals such as plant extracts and limestone powder in their creation.


Iconic Embossed Effect and Use of Gold Foil:


Embossing refers to the raised relief created by applying layers of materials such as chalk powder with a binding agent like Arabic gum. Gold foil is an integral part of Tanjore oviyam symbolizing wealth, prosperity, and divine radiance.


The Significance of Divine Themes:


The significance of the divine theme lies in its profound connection to Hindu mythology, spirituality, and religious symbolism. Some of the key significance of the art are spiritual expression, cultural heritage, devotional practice, symbolism, and allegory, sacred spaces.


The Technique Behind Tanjore Paintings:

The Traditional Process of Creating a Tanjore Painting:


The traditional process of creating a Tanjore painting involves several intricate steps, each executed with precision and care such as the preparation of the canvas, Sketching, Embossing, Applying Adhesive, Gold Foil Application, Painting, and Final touches.


Materials Used in Tanjore Paintings:


Tanjore paintings involve the use of specific materials chosen for their durability, vibrancy, and traditional significance. Tanjore paintings are mostly make with the following supplies: canvas, chalk or limestone powder, Arabic gum, natural pigments, gold foil, and wooden frames.


Prominent Artists and Their Contribution to Tanjore Art:


Tanjore art has a rich history with several prominent artists who have made significant contributions to its development and popularity. Here are some notable artists and their contributions to Tanjore art such as:


Celebrated Artists of Tanjore Art:


1 Raja Ravi Varma: Although primarily known for his pioneering work in Indian oil painting, Raja Ravi Varma also played a role in popularizing Tanjore art.


2 M. Narasimhachari: He was a renowned Tanjore artist known for his mastery of the traditional techniques of Tanjore painting. 


3 Vijayalakshmi Krishnan: She is a contemporary Tanjore artist who has garnered recognition for her innovative approach to the art form.


4 Bapuji H. L.: He is a renowned Tanjore artist known for his exceptional skill in gold foil work and intricate detailing.


5 S. Rajam: S. Rajam was a multifaceted artist known for his contributions to various art forms, including Tanjore painting.


Their Impact on the Art Form:


Prominent artists have had a significant impact on the Tanjore art form, shaping its evolution, popularity, and recognition both within India and internationally.


Revival and Preservation:

Many prominent artists have played pivotal roles in reviving and preserving the traditional techniques and aesthetics of Tanjore art.


Innovation and Experimentation:

While preserving the core traditions of Tanjore art, prominent artists have also introduced innovation and experimentation into the art form.


Global Recognition:

Prominent artists have contributed to the global recognition and appreciation of Tanjore art through their exhibitions, workshops, and collaborations with international artists and institutions. 


Skill Development and Training:

Many prominent artists have dedicated themselves to teaching and mentoring aspiring Tanjore artists, passing down their knowledge, skills, and techniques to future generations.


Recognition and Awards:

The achievements and contributions of prominent artists have garnered recognition and accolades from both governmental and non-governmental organizations.


Tanjore Paintings in the Modern Era:


Tanjore painting’s enduring beauty and cultural relevance have kept audiences enthralled even in the current period. These art has remained attractive and relevant despite the emergence of new artistic movements and technological advancements, adjusting to modern preferences while maintaining its customs and aesthetics.


Contemporary Interpretations of Tanjore Art:


The current era’s changing preferences, viewpoints, and cultural surroundings are reflected in the inventive methods and reinterpretations of classic Tanjore art themes and techniques. 

Here are a few instances of how Tanjore art is being interpreted today such as mixed media, Abstract, and Symbolic Expression, social and political commentary, Experimental Techniques, Cultural Fusion, Global Influences, and environmental consciousness.


The Market for Tanjore Paintings Today:


Tanjore paintings are still in high demand today, both in India and abroad. where there is a growing interest in and market for these magnificent pieces of art. The Tanjore painting market is robust due to some factors:

Cultural Heritage Value, Artistic appeal, collector’s items, Artisanal craftsmanship, Global reach, Customization and personalization, Artisan support and Promotion.




To sum up, Tanjore art has irrevocably influenced many artistic traditions, both inside and outside of India. Its unique aesthetic, profound symbolism, and fine craftsmanship have impacted a wide variety of artistic mediums and cultural expressions.

Tanjore art has influenced the development of painting styles regionally, including the Mysore style in Karnataka, the Pattachitra art in Odisha, and the Kalamkari art in Andhra Pradesh.


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