Tanjore painting

What is Tanjore Art?

  • Tanjore Art or Thanjavur Art is an art form that orginates from the ancient city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. It is popular not only in India but around the world, finding a place for itself on the walls of several homes.


  • 16th Century – Tanjore art draws its inspiration from the period of Nayakas’ rule over Thanjavur. When the Vijayanagara empire under Krishnadevaraya came to Thanjavur, paintings and art started gaining importance. The Vijayanagara administered their kindgom through Nayaka governors. Thanjavur was also a Nayaka state. Under the rule of Raghunatha Nayaka, one of the most succesful Nayaka rulers, a unique school of Thanjavur artists was established.
  • 1676-1855 – Tanjore painting flourished during Maratha rule. The Marathas took over Thanjavur in the late 1600s. They were great patrons of art and artists. It was during the rule of Serfoji II that Tanjore art and painting developed into the form and style we recognise today. It was also the time when great innovations took place in Tanjore art and other fields.
  • Post Maratha rule – The Maratha rule in Thanjavur came to an end with the death of its last ruler, Shivaji II. After this, the mercantile Chettiar community continued to patronise the Tanjore artists. Since they were Shaivites, they encouraged such themes in the paintings.


  • Tanjore paintings use a lot of rich and vivid colours. They make use of gold foil, glass beads, precious and semi-precious stones, depending on the function or occasion for which they are created. Due to its time under rulers from different cultures, Tanjore paintings are influenced by Vijayanagara, Maratha and even European styles of paintings. The subjects of Tanjore paintings are mainly Hindu gods, goddesses and saints.
  • The paintings are usually made by placing layers of cloth over wooden planks. Hence, they are often referred as palagai padam in local communities.
  • Today, Tanjore paintings are purchased by people to adorn the walls of their homes. They are also bought for gifting purposes and as collectors’ items by art lovers. Sadly, there are replicas that are sold for extremely cheap rates which dilute this beautiful art form.

Did you know?

  • Tanjore paintings mostly have a story to tell. The main character of the painting is always placed in the centre.

Source: The Hindu

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