Tanjore painting (Tamil: தஞ்சாவூர் ஓவியம், Thanjavur Oviyam) is an important form of classical South Indian painting native to the town of Thanjavur (anglicized as Tanjore) in Tamil Nadu, India. The art form dates back to about 1600 AD, a period when Nayakas of Tanjavur encouraged art—chiefly, classical dance and music—as well as literature both in Telugu and Tamil. Tanjore paintings are known for their surface richness, vivid colours and compact composition. Essentially serving as devotional icons, the themes of most of these paintings areHindu gods and goddesses, and saints as well. Episodes from Hindu tradition are drawn upon as elaboration to the main figure or figures placed in the central section of the picture. Tanjore paintings are in fact panel paintings done on solid wood planks, and hence were also referred to as palagai padam (palagai = “wooden plank”; padam = “picture”) in local parlance. In modern times, these paintings have become souvenirs during festive occasions in South India, pieces to decorate the walls, or collectors’ items for art lovers.
About Tanjore Paintings