Tanjore is a city located in southern part of India in Tamilnadu state. Scholars believe the name Thanjavur is derived from "Tanjan", Tanjan referring to a legendary asura in Hindu mythology. The town first rose to prominence during the reign of the Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the Chola Empire. After the fall of the Cholas, the town was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and the British Empire.
Tanjore has been the center for the art and architecture during the various rulers of the region. It particularly has been dominating for centuries a great centre of dance, music, architecture, and arts – sculpture, woodcraft, metal-cast, mural painting, etc. “Most of the Great Living Chola Temples, which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, are located in and around Thanjavur. The Chola dynasty built various temples in this city and the surrounding cities. The most famous temple in Tanjore is Lord Brihadeeshwara Temple. Tanjore is also famous for a Tanjore Wobble head doll and Tanjore Paintings. Tanjore painting is a traditional art form originating in the region of Tanjore. This art form dates back to the 1600 AD during the rule of the Nayaks. The temples built by the Chola rulers had a large number of murals paintings depicting various scenes from the Indian Mythology. From the Chola temple of the region, the Ramasway Temple one of its mural painting that portrays the Crowning of Lord Rama was adopted as a Tanjore Painting by the artists during the Nayaks’ rule. Tanjore Painting is primarily composed of a main subject characters from Indian mythology such as Ramayana and Bhagavada Purana Common themes were various depiction of Krishna, Rama’s coronation and variations of Vishnu and Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) or used to be royalty. Secondary subjects are elephants, horses, cow and parrot.
Tanjore paintings are known for their surface richness, vivid colors, compact composition and especially the glittering gold foils used to give the paintings their rich look. “Tanjore paintings are mainly panel paintings done on solid wood planks, and hence referred to as palagai padam in local parlance.