Every culture throughout history has had a period where the arts produced became more than just art, they became iconic styles. Pieces from these periods are instantly recognizable, and many are quite collectible and desirable thousands of years after their creation. The art produced transcends time and geographical boundaries. Tanjore Paintings are one of the best examples of this, and these iconic creations of southern India are some of the most brilliant, elegant and poignant works of art in existence today. Tanjore pairings are collected around the world and are valued for not only their beauty, but for their connection to the history and traditions of India. But why are Tanjore paintings valued and praised so highly? What makes this specific style of art so popular now when many other works from other points in time are long forgotten?
The most obvious reason Tanjore paintings are still so highly valued is that the paintings truly are magnificent. Crafted on wooden planks from the jackfruit tree, Tanjore paintings depict devotional icons such as Hindu gods, goddesses and saints in simple yet iconic settings reminiscent of episodes from religious texts. Rich, flat and vivid colors brighten these scenes, and glittering golden foils are overlaid on the planks creating reliefs that often look like gold, flowing waves. Many paintings also include a multitude of precious gemstones that reflect brightly and also scream of decadence. The glowing presence of a Tanjore painting lightens a darkened room, and this brilliant, embellished style is desired for its sheer garishness alone.
Many also value Tanjore paintings for the unique and progressive depiction of the devotional icons. Figures have luxurious, round, curved bodies and almond-shaped eyes that are mysterious and beautiful. Tanjore paintings depict the Hindu icons as breathtakingly beautiful, lithe and graceful, and many people fall in love with the romanticism of the great figures in Indian religion.
Tanjore paintings come from a period during the 16th century where there was immense artistic growth in India. Arts and culture were wildly encouraged by the ruling class, and painting, music, dance, literature and other art forms flourished. Tanjore paintings capture this period of intense artistic growth perfectly. Collectors of Tanjore paintings are often drawn to the powerful, explosive period of art in India and want to hold a piece of this historical time where so much was possible. It is a great reminder of the importance of the arts in society, and it serve to remind us that humans are amazingly creative, emotional and innovative creatures at heart.
Once you’ve seen a Tanjore painting in person, it’s easy to see why they are so highly sought. The effect of the colors, relief and glittering gemstones are nothing short of magical, and the historical connection to India during a period of intense cultural growth is exciting for art lovers around the globe. Many cultures and societies have had their own periods of artistic explosion, but none are so brilliant and so elaborate as the paintings that come from Tanjore, India.