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Tanjore paintings are back

They are used as wall hangings in many houses in Bangalore

PHOTO: R. SHIVAJI RAO

WORK OF BEAUTY: An artist giving finishing touches to his masterpiece.

Have you always wanted to own those gorgeous Tanjore paintings but never knew where to get them? This art from the ancient town of Thanjavur is making its way back into the houses of both the elite and the middle class.

Either you could get an artist such as Vijayalakshmi S. (Ph: 41248071) to paint one or simply walk into the stores that display them. Those in the northen part of the city may walk into ISKCON temple and purchase a painting of their choice. Those residing in the south may visit Tarang Arts, a quaint little store in Jayanagar, to be enthralled by the glittering display of these paintings. Framed in elaborately carved teak wood frames from Chettinad, there are paintings of Hindu deities such as Ganesha, Krishna and Radha, Balaji etc.

Chubby faces with almond-shaped eyes and figures rounded is typical of this art form.

Traditionally, Tanjore paintings had Hindu gods and goddesses painted in vegetable dyes and had embedded on them precious stones like diamonds and rubies. Real gold was used. Nowadays, artificial stones are gaining popularity but they are no less beautiful. These paintings date back to the 16th century when the Cholas ruled Thanjavur.

Vijayalakhsmi says working on Tanjore paintings takes a lot of time and it needs a lot of patience. Hence, not many are into it. The rate she charges is based on the design selected and the size required. She uses water colour, lead powder, gold leak and crystals.

Kiran Grandhi, the owner of Tarang, says, "The aim is to make art affordable." The price ranges from Rs. 1,000 for a small painting to Rs. 5 lakhs for a six-foot painting.

Antique value

His clients range from the yuppie IT professionals to the elderly and NRIs from the U.S. whose children have never been to India. "These paintings assume antique value after a period of time and that is another reason why people buy them."

Real 22 carat gold foil is used in areas like the pillars, thrones, clothes and jewellery of the deities painted. The gold remains intact for years and gives a glowing appearance in the dark. Traditionally, diamonds and rubies were used. Today, semi-precious stones or glass stones are used.

"Vegetable dyes have similarly been replaced by chemical paints which offer more possibility for shading, enhancing and sharpness," says Kiran. He also accepts orders for custom-made paintings.

Charu is another artist who sells gorgeous Tanjore paintings. Using oil paints, gold powder and a special paint called stone paint — which after painting creates an illusion of a real stone — Charu's works are equally beautiful but cheaper.

Charu paints on glass which offers more scope for achieving a 3D effect and it allows for shading. Traditional paintings don't have shading.

Her price range starts at Rs. 500 for a miniature painting to Rs. 3,500 for a big one.

Though contemporary designs like those of Jesus and even cartoons are available on order, people prefer the traditional ones. Charu can be emailed at jcharu77@yahoo.com for details.

If you want to adorn your house with an ornate Tanjore painting, what are you waiting for?

  • Traditionally, Tanjore paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses had embedded on them precious stones like diamonds and rubies.
  • Nowadays, artificial stones are gaining popularity.
  • Prices range from Rs. 1,000 for a small painting to Rs. 5 lakhs for a six-foot painting in some shops.
  • Real 22 carat gold foil is used in areas like the pillars, thrones, clothes and jewellery of the deities painted.

    YAMINI DEENADAYALAN

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