There is a classic style of painting that comes from Thanjavur in South India. Thanjavur, or Tanjore, was once the capital of the region and an important center in South Indian religion, art, and architecture. People from all over India (and the world) continue to make pilgrimages to visit temples and take part in traditional festivals and events throughout the year. The Government of India has preserved the temples and they are also considered a UNESCO World Heritage monuments.
Tanjore paintings are seen in these temples are became the known style in the region, as well as other places in India. Even though the style is very particular to the city of Thanjavur, you can see local and regional differences in the subjects of the paintings. Tanjore paintings date back to 1600’s and primarily show Hindu subjects and temples. The colors are rich in color and have iconic compositions that focus around a center figure, object or temple. You can see lot of details and even inlays of glass and sometimes gems. And don’t forget about the gold foil! You may even notice that Tanjore paintings were influenced by European styles of art that particularly were devoted to saints. Artists often painted visuals that complimented Hindu texts and familiar stories.
I’m excited to see some examples in person when I get to Chennai, there are a lot of galleries where you can view the paintings and many artists who still practice this style of Thanjavur. I like the use of color, and can see all the time and effort it takes to create the details that make the artwork stand out. I’m excited to also learn about the stories that are represented in the artwork, and understand why they are so important.