Tanjore Painting

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Possessing a Tanjore painting is a matter of pride. It is a great painting technique and the pleasure of creating your own painting is immense. Starting a painting right from sketching, executing to finishing is time-consuming and a lot of hard work.

Tanjore Paintings originate from the southern part of India. They developed around 400 years ago, about 300 km south of Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu. In India, any regional style draws heavily from our Mythology and Epics. Illustrating the stories of various gods and their legends is part of the narrative. Tanjore paintings are iconographic paintings, depicting deities seated in temple arches, with heavy drapery, embellished with semi-precious stones and gold.  These paintings were framed for the first time, as India has a tradition of Folios and Illustrations. Devotees visiting the temple town of Tirupati liked carrying home an image of their Deity to worship. These paintings were supposed to bless the householder as well as the onlooker.

From then to now Tanjore Paintings have moved from the temple room in the house to sitting rooms. They are a collector’s delight. I started teaching Tanjore Painting in Delhi 30 years back when very few had heard about them in the North of India. Today they are very popular. I am posting photos of the various steps from start to finish. It is a Lord Ganesh Painting.


  1. Take a piece of waterproof ply. Size:- 8 x 10 inches, thickness 6 mm.

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  1. Apply wood glue on the board.

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3. Paste white cotton fabric on it, taking care there are no creases in the cloth. Also, check that no splinters are caught between the cloth and the ply.

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4. Turn the excess fabric and paste on the reverse side to neaten the board. Your canvass is now ready.

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5. Apply a coat of tamarind glue and soft stone powder paste. This has to be of painting consistency. Once the coat is even let it dry

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6. Using tracing and carbon paper transfer the sketch on the prepared canvass.

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7. Now apply semi-precious gemstones where planned. These vary in size, shape, and color according to the drawing and space.

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8. Apply a thicker paste (called SUKHAN) of tamarind glue and soft stone powder around the stones to give it body.

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9. Use sukhan to raise other areas as required and also to outline the stones.

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11. Complete all the foil work

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12. Paint with water-based colors. Put in your base colors and then do the detailing.

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13. The finished painting.

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