Tanjore paintings make a comeback | india | Hindustan Times
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Tanjore paintings make a comeback

THEY MIGHT not be as famous as say M F Hussain?s creations. But these paintings sure make a mark when it comes to traditional Indian art. Tanjore paintings, from Thanjavur (now Tanjore) in Tamil Nadu, once a dying art is slowly witnessing a revival of sorts, thanks to the interest shown by an art promoter.

india Updated: May 07, 2006 00:38 IST

THEY MIGHT not be as famous as say M F Hussain’s creations. But these paintings sure make a mark when it comes to traditional Indian art. Tanjore paintings, from Thanjavur (now Tanjore) in Tamil Nadu, once a dying art is slowly witnessing a revival of sorts, thanks to the interest shown by an art promoter.

There are artists in Thanjavur, about 300 kilometres from Chennai, who have made traditional paintings for generations. After the abolition of kingdoms, these artists struggled to keep the art alive and finally turned to farming to keep the hearth burning.

Tanjore paintings date back to the Gupta era in the 18th century. These paintings were made with 24-carat gold and real emeralds, rubies, diamonds etc. The pure gold sheet is still used but semi precious stones have taken the place of real ones. Tanjore paintings were characterized by their colour schemes and decorative jewellery. Traditional artistes restricted their art to divine figures only.

Says Veena Jaikumar the promoter from Baroda who has taken up cudgels for reviving this lost art form told Hindustan Times, “I first saw the paintings sometime last year when I went to Tanjore and my South Indian husband’s friend showed a collection of the paintings.”

Veena, who is here hosting an exhibition of the Tanjore paintings, said that she did not feel like taking away her eyes from those paintings when she saw a number of them together. The paintings had an infectious smile and positive aura. Herself, having an inclination for art she decided to make it famous throughout the country.

According to Veena the traditional Tanjor artists were never really noticed by the world. “However, now I am determined to take this art to homes, industries and religious places,” she said. She revealed that the artists speak only Tamil and so the language barrier keeps them away from the outside world. With changing demands the artists have shifted to paintings of traditional ladies and birds also.

Veena adopted 15 families of traditional artists in Tanjore and gave them the work of making paintings. She assigned them a task of making 60-70 paintings three months ago. She supplied all the raw material required for the paintings including gold sheets. She has made it her responsibility to provide work to the artists and recovers her investment by organising exhibitions.

“Each painting requires at least 7-8 days to be ready. The wooden board is prepared first and the drawing is made on it. After every step, the painting is dried. The next step is to stick the stones with natural glue and clay. After this, 3-D embossing is done and then gold-sheets are planted on the painting.

The next step is colouring with natural vegetable colours, which is done by special painters.” “The paintings come in various sizes ranging from half feet to six feet sometimes. The prices also vary depending on the size and the wooden frame used. The paintings cost Rs 3,000 and sometimes even Rs 3 lakh. The frame carved from seasoned teakwood alone costs Rs 1 lakh at times,” she said.

These paintings are apt for temples and corporate gifting and also for living rooms. There are paintings of Ganesh with ‘Om’ and all nine planets that cast a good effect on the stars of a person. All these paintings have very expressive and happy faces with almond shaped eyes.

When asked about the business aspect of the paintings she stated that some paintings worth Rs 55-60,000 have been sold already. This is the first exhibition and the next one would be in Baroda.

The exhibition would remain open tomorrow also from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm at the Emerald Hall, Hotel Sayaji.