Framed elaborately, this Tanjore painting is made on a canvas and characterized by flat and vivid colors. Rajarajeshwari or Tripura Sundari is one of the most powerful forms of goddess Shakti and consort of Sadashiva. She is the most beautiful in the three worlds as she sits in her lalitasana posture on this richly carved multilayered lotus throne with magnificent prabhavali- a fine arch that forms a huge halo at her back and a parasol at the top enhancing her divine and beauteous aspects. She is draped in an alluring natural orange silk, printed in horizontal motifs.
Her thick dark hair have the scent of champaka, ashoka and punnaga flowers with the musk tilak on her forehead; she wears a red complexion and eyes like the abode of god of love; her voice sweeter than the sound emanating from Saraswati’s veena and smile, such that Shiva himself could not take his eyes off her; sensuously modeled in decently clad breasts, broadened hips but a highly balanced figure.
The most awe striking feature is the use of glittering 22 karat gold foils overlaid on the painting with the jewels, crown, throne and the royal room painted in a slight sculptural format. She wears this long South Indian temple inspired stone studded crown adorned with a crescent moon at the top and multiple heavy jewels studded with precious stones glorify her body. Sun and full moon form her lavish earrings. This chaturbhuja holds a bunch of lotus buds and sugarcane in her foremost hands, while the rear hands carry an elephant goad and a noose. Settled in the midst of long luxurious carved pillars, this beautiful divinity is the mistress of even the king of the kings’.
Tanjore painting is a traditional form of art in the South Indian
style and was started by the inhabitants of a small town known as
Thanjavur of Tamil Nadu. This gives it another name called
“Thanjavur painting”. This painting draws its figures, designs,
and inspiration from the time when Vedic culture was prevalent in
India. Certain remarkable features of a Tanjore painting
distinguish it from other paintings. Some of these are pure gold
or gold foil coating on gesso work, the use of rich and vivid
colors, and the inlay of cut-glass or semi-precious and precious
stones. The subjects of most of the Tanjore paintings are Hindu
Gods, Goddesses, and saints. The main devotional figure is
portrayed in the central portion of the painting and is usually
surrounded by various secondary figures.
The classic Tanjore paintings are done on wooden planks and hence
are also referred to as Palagai Padam in South India (Palagai =
Wooden plank, Padam = Picture). Creating a masterpiece is never an
easy task but the skilled artists of Thanjavur have been following
the tradition of making timeless Tanjore paintings for decades.
The making process begins with preparing the wooden board or
canvas. The size of the board depends upon the choice of the
patron. The next step is to paste cardboard over the wooden board
and then a cotton fabric is stretched and pasted upon it using
Now that the cloth is attached to the wooden panel, a rough sketch
of the motifs and figure is drawn onto the fabric. After this, a
paste of chalk powder and water-soluble adhesive is evenly applied
over the base and smoothed.
Thereafter, the outlines which were made or traced using a stencil
are now ready to be beautified and decked with various add-ons.
The usual materials for decoration are cut-glass, pearls,
semi-precious and precious gems, gold leaf, and laces. 22 or 18
Karat Gold leaves and gems of varied hues are especially inlaid in
areas like pillars, arches, walls, thrones, and dresses.
In the final step, the rest of the painting is filled with rich
and striking colors such as shades of red, blue, and green.
Formerly, the artists used natural colors like vegetable and
mineral dyes instead of chemical paints. The entire painting is
then cleaned and refined to give a flawless finished look.
Since the making of a single piece of Tanjore painting requires a
complex and elaborate process, the artists usually take at least
one or two months to complete it. The use of pure gold foil and
gems for beautification is a characteristic of an authentic
Tanjore painting. Due to this, Tanjore paintings last for
generations without getting tarnished and are much more expensive
than general paintings. Though the art form has undergone various
changes and technique modifications over the years, it continues
to attract the hearts of art lovers.
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