Gods, gold and gemstones are at the heart of this four hundred year old art form of palagai oviyam, better known as Thanjavur painting. Themes are mostly based on the Vishnu puranas with Baby Krishna, holding a pot of butter being the most recurring visual in these paintings. While the overall effect is striking, fine lines, gradation washes of skin tones and kayal vizhi eyes (the much loved fish- shaped eye romanticized by Tamil poets) are a testament to the devotion with which the traditional art form has been practiced in Thanjavur. A cardboard is fixed on a wooden board and cotton fabric is stick to the surface. A coat of chalk powder mixed with fevicol is applied on it to prevent the painting from cracking. The image to be drawn is traced using tracing sheet. Relief work is done with the mixture of chalk powder and indigenous gum. Proper pressing and creasing of the foil is done using the back side of the paint brush. Gold foils of desired shapes are cut and placed on the embossed area. Kundan and other embellishments are pasted and allowed to dry. Painting is done using poster colours or natural colours. Finally paintings are framed with wooden frames having transparent glass.
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