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Tanjore Art – The Golden Patrimony Of India

The Golden Patrimony - Tanjore Art

As a country that’s a melting pot of cultures, our love for gold is pretty evident in the way we choose to incorporate it into our lives. Be it in the form of exquisite uncut diamonds, Tanjore art, temple sculptures, Meenakari work, or the rebirth of vintage royal pieces following current trends. And so, today’s blog will explore Thanjavur paintings, often known as Golden Tanjore art. Take a seat and don your knowledge glasses to learn everything there is to know about a Tanjore painting here at Rooftop!

Image Credits: Brooklyn Museum
Image source: Bonhams Auction Home

One of the most expensive and precious metals, gold has long existed to crown Indian culture and customs. India’s gold jewellery represents several cultures through its designs and regional cultural values. Gold is essential in Indian homes, everyone invests in having some amount of it as its believed to be a prosperous metal.

The vast empire of the Vijayanagara Rayas presided over southern India. Under their patronage, Tanjore paintings from that era flourished. Throughout their reign, the gold jewellery designs and collections produced are the benchmarks for several Indian artworks that have aimed to produce just as exquisite collections. The collection evokes ancient, timeless traditions and has honoured historical icons.


Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu is where Tanjore paintings originate from. These paintings are a celebration of the region’s rich artistic tradition. Classical Indian paintings influenced the Golden Tanjore paintings from the 16th century when the Nayaka Governors ruled over the sizable empire of the Vijayanagara Rayas in southern India. The Nayakas were formerly patrons of the arts and literature. After seizing control of the region in 1676, Maratha kings encouraged the development of skills and artists.

Image Credits: D’source

One of the popular themes and subjects for Tanjore paintings was the various empires that patronized the art form. Nonetheless, other well-known Vijayanagara school painting styles including the Tirupati and Kalamkari styles. Paintings depicting the deity Tirupati were created in Tirupati’s renowned temple town using various mediums and techniques. 

Style And Intricacies

Tanjore Art
Image credits: Alamy (1); Dune Wellness Groups (2)

Tanjore paintings are well recognised for their rich representations of deities employing vivid colours and flashy ornaments, particularly gold foil. Golden Tanjore paintings are known as ‘Palagi Padam’, which translates to image on a wooden plank. They are traditionally still created on boards made from jackfruit or teak wood, even after going through numerous changes over the years. Moreover cut glass, pearls, precious gems, and semi-precious stones as additional decorative elements.

Global Standing Of Golden Tanjore Art

Tanjore Art
Image Credits: Plano Public Library (1); Memeraki (2)

Undoubtedly Tanjore’s paintings continue to be popular today. They’ve been tremendously commercialized in recent years and are now even sold in street markets. Even while the style of painting has lasted and is still widely used, many art lovers are worried about the general quality decline. Though encouraging, workshops and training programmes are being undertaken to ensure the art form thrives while preserving all the rich, traditional, and creative components that constitute the essence of Tanjore painting.

Indian art has a vibrant future and a rich history! Art is timeless and here at Rooftop, we have online workshops that you must attend and dive into the world of art! 

Tanjore Art Fun fact
Image Credits: Ye Hai India

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