Thanjavur Oviyam: Interplay of Intricacy & Vibrance


Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by

South Indian Art speaks for itself and Thanjavur Paintings are among the most prized and preserved form of art that are known for their unique composition.

Introduction to Thanjavur Oviyam

Centuries after centuries this art form has only adapted itself with the contemporary times and is thus in vogue today, even though hundreds of years have passed since it was first brought to the public.

Thanjavur has a rich history with UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, paintings, bronze art, wooden sculptures, dance and music. The Thanjavur kings have been held in high esteem and are known for their administration and valour.

Thanjavur Oviyam: Interplay of Intricacy & Vibrance

History of Thanjavur Oviyam

Thanjavur style of painting is as ancient as 1600 AD and derives its roots from the Nayakas and the Marathas. The Marathas developed a conducive environment which made artists thrive in this particular skill.

Serfoji II the great Maratha ruler made innumerable contributions to Thanjavur paintings and helped them take the form they currently exhibit. The painters were primarily Kshatriyas or warriors and this is evident up to this age as they suffix ‘Raja’ after their name.

Materials Used in Thanjavur Oviyam

These paintings are prepared on materials such as wood, glass, ivory, murals, mica etc. Initially they also had precious and semi-precious stones embedded in them. Many of the Hindu Manuscripts that date until the 19th century AD have several pages dedicated to Tanjore Paintings.

They canvas is majorly known to paint Hindu deities and brave rulers, though many among them also depict characters which gives a secular colour to this art that uses vivid colours that are a spectacle to every eye. The character of central importance generally enjoys greater canvas-space and is thus quite large than the other items shown. The image flaunts a 3-D effect.

Themes of Thanjavur Oviyam

The luminous greens, brilliant yellows and intense reds are so spell-bounding that they are a must in almost every South Indian household and a souvenir that most of the tourists prefer to house. The artist as well as the buyer is happy to see the end results and enjoys owning it.


Owing to some changes and replacements in the style the artists had started to gain lesser profits. This resulted in a number of artist drop outs and Thanjavur Paintings were included in dying art forms.

Poompuhar actively engages in conducting workshops and exhibitions that help create a market for various kinds of arts that belong to South India. A while ago, we initiated a year long training programme exclusively for women that skilled them in the art of Thanjavur Painting.

100 women enrolled in this programme that is all set to mark its end in November 2014. We at Poompuhar ensure that each Indian art form gets its due and stays viable to be witnessed and appreciated by generations to come.


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