The metal art plates of Thanjavur are the traditional handicraft of Tamil Nadu. These beautiful plates showcase the careful workmanship of the artisans. This art is said to have emerged about 250 years ago. It is said that Rajah Sirfoji II wanted to present some unique piece of art to his guests. He was so impressed on seeing these art plates that out of the various wonderful works of the artisans, he chose to gift these amazing art plates.
The Thanjavur Art plates are made using brass, copper and silver. The wonderful art plates bear designs of birds, animals, flowers, gods and goddesses or even geometric patterns. The designs are beaten out of copper and silver sheets and then embossed on a brass plate. The plates are usually round in shape. They are mounted on a wooden base and made into wall hangings. The plates are available in various sizes with the maximum size being 32 inches.
In more modern forms of the Thanjavur brass plates, along with the base of the brass plate,silver foils with embossed motifs arranged on laminated shields on wooden base is also being used. This gives an impression of a totally silver memento, and the look is quite rich.
Thanjavur Art Plates have been given legal protection from counterfeit products. In 1999, they were registered under the Geographical Indication Act, according to which Thanjavur Art Plate producers must register themselves as Authorized Users. This way, duplicate works can be checked and questioned by checking out the GI registration and logo.
Thanjavur Art Plates, also known as the tri – metal – artwork, is practiced by almost 250 artisans, who belong to the Viswakarma community and live in and around the Thanjavur town.
Appreciating the lovely Art Plates of Thanjavur, Mr. Dattatreya, Senior assistant Director, Office of the Development Commissioner (handicrafts), Union Ministry of Textiles, said that if the designs on the Art Plates can also be used on utility products such as jewelry boxes, candle stands, mirrors etc., it can add value to them.
For the further improvement and sustenance of this craft, the Tamil Nadu govt. is aiming to provide insights to the artisans regarding certain technical inputs for surface treatment for preventing discoloration or fading of the Art Plates. To cater to the changing tastes of the buyers and for it to suit all types of markets, artisans are also being sensitized about new themes that can be adapted to this art.