History and Evolution of Annapoorna Tanjore Painting
Introduction to Annapurna Tanjore Painting
Tanjore painting is an exquisite traditional art form and has a very rich heritage. This classical painting style of South India originated from the town of Thanjavur (anglicised as Tanjore). This art form flourished way back about 1600AD by the Nayakas of Thanjavur under the reign of Vijayanagar Rayas. These paintings are made up of rich and vibrant colors with glittering gold overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work. They are also embedded with glass beads and pieces or precious gem stones. The dense composition, surface richness and vibrant colors distinguish tanjore paintings from other forms. The subjects of paintings are mostly Hindu gods, goddesses and saints among these one is Annapoorna tanjore painting. Annapoorna is derived from the combination of two words “anna” which means food and “poorna” which means complete or perfect. Annapoorna devi depicted in the painting is worshipped as the goddess of food. There are also many instances from the history when Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religions and even secular subjects were depicted in Tanjore paintings.
Read more on History of Tanjore Painting.
Nowadays Tanjore paintings are greatly preferred by the art lovers to adorn their walls especially for South Indian people these paintings have become a part of souvenirs for festive occasions. These paintings are also used to decorate the puja rooms in residences, temples, hotels etc. Meticulously crafted Tanjore paintings are unique in their own. They are bright and colourful and very attractive. Moreover the distinctive feature that keeps them apart from the other paintings are the embossing made over the sketches with gemstones and also the work that gives them a three dimensional effect. The impact in the darkened room is that of the glowing presence.
History and evolution of Annapurna Tanjore Painting
Thanjavur has made a remarkable contribution to enhancing the legacy of the Indian paintings. It houses some of the most fascinating 11th century Chola paintings in the walls of Brihadeeswarar temple & also paintings from the Nayak period. The history of Tanjore painting dates back to the Marathas invasion of Thanjavur. This led to the migration of artists and painters and some moved to Tanjore and worked under the Naykas of Thanjavur. The Maratha rule lasted for about two centuries and this art form flourished under the patronage of the Nayakas and Maratha princes in the 16th to 18th century. The RAJUs in Thanjavur and the TRICHY and NAIDUS in Madurai were the two main communities practising this art. The Marathas influence gave a unique touch to this painting. A typical Tanjore painting consists of one main figure, a deity with a round body and almond shaped eyes surrounded by several subsidiary figures or subjects. After the decline of Maratha rule the Chettiar community patronised the Tanjore artists. Then the Britishers who had come to Thanjavore also patronised the artists. With the modernising era the figures depicted in the painting were no longer round and the technique is now more in use than the style.
How they are made
Tanjore paintings are panel paintings mainly done on the wooden planks and hence also referred as palgai (wooden plank) padam (painting). The plank used was originally wood of jackfruit tree but nowadays its plywood over which the canvas is pasted with Arabic gum. Then French chalk or powdered limestone and a binding medium are used for coating the canvas evenly and then left for drying. The canvas was then ready for painting. The artists then did the detailed sketch of painting using stencils. A paste of powdered limestone and a binding medium called sukkan or makku were used for creating the Gesso work. Semi precious gemstones and gold leaves of varied hues were embedded in particular areas such as pillars, arches, thrones, dresses etc. Finally the sketch was filled with colours. In the old days artists used natural colours like that of vegetables and mineral dyes. Today they use synthetic colours. Vibrant colours such as bright red and dark brown colours were used to mark outlines. Background of the paintings was mostly created with red colour though blue and green colours were preferred as well. Scholars say that red background in Tanjore painting is a distinct mark. Lord Vishnu apt enough is coloured blue and Lord Nataraja chalk white. Yellow colour is used for the Goddesses. Blue colour is used for the sky but black was employed in occasions.
These paintings were not only confined to the wooden panel but this amazing art could also be seen on the walls, glass, paper, mica and exotic materials such as ivory. Small ivory portraits were typically worn as cameo pendants called rajaharam and were quite admired.
Tanjore paintings are deeply rooted in tradition and still innovative within limits. This art is sacred and dedicated. Importantly this art is continued to be practiced in the present days though not thoroughly but revival programmes are being held regularly. In addition to that workshops, exhibitions and training camps on Tanjore paintings are organised time to time by many institutions including the State Government. This amazing and distinct cultural heritage needs to preserved and protected.