Reviving the lost heritage of Tanjore Painting

Reviving the lost heritage of Tanjore Painting

The Tanjore Painting is a type of painting which originated in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It was typically done on cotton, silk, or paper and set within delicate borders with complex patterns usually done in gold on black or brown background. These paintings have been known as one of the most important types of Asian painting and are among the most important contributions to world art. The most notable prior to the 20th century were made by the courts of the Nayak of Vallalar, Rulers of Tanjore, and Thanjavur.

The origin is unknown, and it is assumed that it was brought to India around the 14th century. The art reached its peak during the 16th and 17th centuries under rulers like Virupaksha Raja (1574-1599), Raja Ravi Varma (1623-1656), and Ranganatha Sethupathi (1702–1728).

These paintings have been known as Tanjore paintings since the late 18th century, after the town of Thanjavur (formerly Tanjore), where they were produced in great quantity for the local nobility. The paintings often depict Hindu religious themes, gods and goddesses, and scenes from Indian epics. Tanjore paintings are considered to be among the best classical Indian paintings.

The first Tanjore paintings were probably produced in the late 16th century. In the late 18th century, the British East India Company began trading with the Thanjavur region, and the paintings soon became popular among the British. In the early 19th century, Tanjore paintings began to be produced in large quantities for the European market.

The paintings were used primarily on walls and ceilings in temples, palaces, and for decoration of store rooms. The style is different from the usual Hindu styles. The first few rows were usually of two-wheeled chariots with animals, human figures, goddesses and other similar forms. Then came different genres which included stories about Puranas, Bhagavata and Ramayana, rides on elephants in procession through towns and villages accompanied by musicians playing instruments like ghatam and violin or by dancing performers.

A revival in interest began in Tamil Nadu in 1922 and has since been supported by several organizations. The national government allocated a grant for the preservation of the paintings. Most of the murals are located in the villages of Thiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur, and Kumbakonam.

There are also a few at Kilpauk Garden, Chennai.

The paintings depict a wide range of religious and secular subjects. They include scenes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as from the classical Tamil works Silapathikaram, Manimekalai, and Periya Puranam.

The Thiruvaiyru murals are located in the Sri Thyagaraja Temple and the Thyagaraja Aradhana Mutt. The Thanjavur murals are located in the Brihadeeswara Temple, the Rajarajeswaram Temple, and the Thanjavur Palace. The Kumbakonam murals are located in the Sarangapani Temple and the Nageswara Temple.

The paintings in the Tamil Nadu murals are not limited to Hindu religious subjects. They also include secular and historical scenes, such as a court scene from the Vijayanagara period, and a procession of elephants.

The Tamil Nadu murals were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

The murals in Tamil Nadu are a beautiful and unique part of the region's history and culture. They are well worth a visit for anyone interested in art or Indian history.

Tanjore Painting depict a variety of religious and secular scenes, and are a popular tourist attraction.

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