Yes, Thanjavur paintings that received impetus from the ruling royals in the 17th Century in Tamil Nadu has over the years been replicated on several streams of art, including textiles, as an embroidery. Take a look at the handmade wonders that mirror as much opulence as the wall décor.
Bengaluru: Thanjavur paintings are named after a style of painting that flourished in the temple town of Tamil Nadu under the discerning patronage of the Maratha rulers when Thanjavur was emerging as a huge centre of art, learning, music and performing arts. The royal art was recognized for its elaborate and ornate attributes. After the dynastic rule ended in India such royal art was looking for survival-support and was gradually adapted by leading practitioners to suit a common man’s wall. While interior designers, who feel the need to encourage Indian handmade art, recommend its inclusions for having ethnic interiors, textile designers and art revivalists have seen Tanjore art with a different aesthetic eye and brought them on to textiles – as embroidered works of art on blouses, lehengas and even on georgettes and raw silk for ethnic wear.
While the gold-look foils and glittering semi-precious stones extensively add to permeating grandeur and positive energy, these regal pieces when taken up on fabrics, say textile experts, enhance life force and vitality of the surrounding. Says Bharathy Harish, Head of arts revival boutique Madhurya in South Bangalore that encourages hand made arts and supports 1200 artisans of the weaving and textile community in India, “Just as colours are symbolic to a mood and character, the richness encrusted in a Tanjore art is representative of abundance and prosperity. We at Madhurya visualized a brand-new look with Tanjore art coming on to fabrics. We tried it out as embroidery using silk threads that embraced semi-precious stones and shimmering gold-look foils and the result was a smashing regal extravaganza. As a matter of fact we even had customers asking for this. So, we decided to also have them as part of a bride’s trousseau collection on blouses, as Tanjore art symbolizes permanence. We also have them on plain material that can be stitched into dresses and lehengas.”
Carvings from temples
As carvings on any temple form the subject matter of Thanjavur art, the minutiae of the description is followed to have them synchronized in colour and form, explain the members of the designer team at Madhurya. “The Gesso work (embossing method) with three-dimensional effect is the most striking feature of Tanjore art that requires a hawk’s eye to simulate them,” says Simran Singh, Head Designer of Madhurya who worked with Bharathy on having the finer details — like flowers, or swan, elephant, parrot or the stems of the flora or a row of flowers as a border — added on to the blouses using embroidery.
The painting itself is raised-art for creating depth and dimension. And the embroidery follows the style impeccably to have the effect reflected. It takes at least three to four days for embroidering a blouse. Even the flattened kempu stones stuck with a glue used in Tanjore art along with gold foils are used to look authentic on the fabric. The designer team collectively tried them out in a multitude of styles to have them perfected. “We have experienced, deft hands as karigars who sit on such pieces of work at length to have the expressions carried out in every portion like the zari flow or the look of the parrot or a swan or have the colour schemes integrate as in the original art,” she says.
Available in many patterns
The creativity also was in having some illustrative pieces with different motifs that had embroidered portions at the back, or as a neckline or on the arms, all with the typical colour palette used in Tanjore art. Take the example of simple parrots integral to Tanjore art form that ‘mimics the divine’ which had to be replicated exactly as documented. Or how the kempu stones are encompassed in gold squares to maintain their originality, or how much of zari brings in the effect to brighten the portions required, what are the borders that suit the heavy work…all these were factored into the embroidery to have the colour-play and the tonal effect synchronize for the aesthetic exercise, says Simran.
Tanjore art on silk blouses or other materials is tastefully crafted on fabrics with embroidery and so comes with a cotton lining to have the breathable material absorb sweat and provide comfort, helping the embroidery remain safe. “Washing and maintenance is easy as it requires just a gentle rinse in liquid soap. The embroidery stays in place and does not stretch as we use silk threads. One has to steam-iron from the reverse side to have them perfectly sitting,” assures Simran.
Many pieces are customized to suit a customer’s taste. As the work is intricate, the cost starts from Rs.2000 for a simple spread to anything more depending on the complex patterns chosen.