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Tanjore painting (Tamil Language: தஞ்சாவூர் ஓவியம், Thanjavur Oviyam) is an important form of classical South Indian painting native to the town of Thanjavurmarker (anglicized as Tanjore) in Tamil Nadumarker. The art form dates back to about 1600 AD, a period when Nayakas of Tanjavur encouraged art—chiefly, classical dance and music—as well as literature both in Telugu and Tamil. Tanjore Paintings are known for their surface richness, vivid colours and compact composition. Essentially serving as devotional icons, the themes of most of these paintings are Hindu gods and goddesses, and saints as well. Episodes from Hindu tradition are drawn upon as elaboration to the main figure / figures placed in the central section of the picture. Tanjore paintings are in fact panel paintings (done on solid wood planks ) and hence were also referred to as 'palagai padam'( palagai - wooden plank ; padam- picture) in local parlance. In modern times, these paintings have become a much sought after as souvenir during festive occasions in South India; or as pieces to decorate the walls ; or as collectors' item by art lovers.

The process of making a Tanjore painting involves many stages. The first stage involves the making of the preliminary sketch of the image on the base. The base consists of a cloth pasted over a wooden base. Then chalk powder or zinc oxide is mixed with water-soluble adhesive and applied on the base. To make the base smoother, a mild abrasive is sometimes used. After the drawing is made, decoration of the jewellery and the apparels in the image is done with semi-precious stones also known as Jaipur stones. Laces or threads are also used to decorate the jewellery. On top of this, the gold foils are pasted. Finally, dyes are used to add colors to the figures in the paintings.

High quality gold foil is used to ensure the paintings lasts generations and becomes family heirlooms. They generally appreciate in value and are considered collectibles. Paintings come in three finishes, Classic, Antinque Style and Embossed. In the classic finish, bold colors and striking backgrounds are combined with high glitter gold foil, while in the antique style, the gold's glitter is more sober with more subtle colors and plain backgrounds. The emboss paintings are similar to the classic style but are super embossed to bring about more depth.


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