mesmerizing is the gold embellishment of this Tanjore painting that portrays
Lord Krishna who is an ocean of mercy and bliss. Whoever sees His attractive
form gets absorbed in the highest form of pleasure because His transcendental
form is Sac-cid-ananda; Eternal, and full of knowledge and bliss. Therefore, when
He appeared in the holy land of Vraja, the inhabitants of Vrindavan were
astonished to see the beautiful bodily features of Krishna, wondering how can
someone be so attractive. They were always absorbed in the thoughts of Krishna
and loved Him with all their hearts. Krishna being the source of all pleasures,
gave them the highest form of pleasure in return.
Infused with rich and vivid traditional colors, this painting describes the All-Attractive
Krishna in an exuberant way. He is calmly seated on a recliner and is accompanied
by mother Yashoda who looks upon her sweet child with unconditional love. She
has nicely decorated Krishna with a perfectly pleated dhoti and several
glittering ornaments on His ever-youthful body. A peacock feather adorns His
head and due to His fair complexion, He appears just like the glowing sun.
Krishna’s beauty exceeds that of thousands of cupids as He is the source of all
six opulence – beauty, fame, power, wealth, renunciation, and wisdom. Krishna
loved stealing eating butter from the houses of gopis and therefore He is also
known as Makhan Chor. To please Him, Mother Yashoda offers Him butterballs with
great affection. She is always engaged in His loving service and in return,
Krishna gives her pure bliss. Whoever sees Krishna sees nothing but an eternal
festival and joy.
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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