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A Royal Gift - Thanjavur Art Plates

Thanjavur is a scintillating town, renowned for its cultural and traditional elements. The beautiful town has some of the town's finest monuments and temples. These temples are decorated by skilled artisans. As you dig into these temples, you will find beautiful jewel boxes, Thanjavur Art Plates and bowls made of brass and copper. The plates are embossed carefully with fine art, made of silver and other mastery materials. Mostly, the plates are designed with gods from Hindu mythology. The minute carvings are a real time representation of Thanjavur's royal splendor. In fact, the art of embossing and engraving small figures in plates is one of the finest and most difficult form of metal craft.

Arts and Crafts in Thanjavur

History of the Art Plates in Thanjavur

The production of Thanjavur Art Plates traces back by several centuries. The plates were first made during early 1800s. It was the brain child of Raja Serfoji II. He was a Maratha King, who asked his skilled artisans to make magnificent metal artefacts. These artefacts should speak of the Kingdom's royal nature. The metal artefacts were made of copper, silver and brass. Each a stunning piece of art worth several thousands and tens of thousands. The blend of reddish copper with silver gives the metal artefacts a striking and unusual beauty that would last for several millenniums. The final finish would depend on the worker's skills and proficiency. Artists with plenty of experience tend to have the wit to prepare durable plates that would retain its shine and glow for a very long time. Artisans who worked on this project were chosen from a community called Vishwakarma. They are a renowned family that considers Plate Art as a hereditary profession.

Arts and Crafts in Thanjavur

How are the Plates made?

Thanjavur Art Plates are made in a strategic manner. Initially, the base of the plate has to be cut based on the shape and size required. Now, the front surface has to be polished carefully. The polished surface is placed firmly on a wooden base with an asphalt bed. The frame is heated and leveled till the base design is prepared. The copper and silver sheets are then placed on the base and cut to size. The sheets are warmed slightly with the dye, for an impression to be formed. Conversely, refininf and etching is done with the help of punches and chisels to achieve the final impression. In the next step, metal sheets are super-imposed and encrusted on the base. This is done with the help of frankincense, brick powder and gingili oil. These ingredients are used to fill hollow depressions on the metal sheet. Next, a relief sheet is placed slowly on the encrusted surface. The relief sheet is then polished and prepared for the final designs. Different types of designs can be craved on the metallic disc. Mostly, the image of deities like Ganapathy, Nataraja, Adhista Lakshmi and Saraswati are craved on the metallic disc. Apart from hindu gods, floral designs are also sketched on the metallic discs.

Arts and Crafts in Thanjavur

Modern day legislations have new rules and regulations for those who wish to make Thanjavur Art Plates. To be a producer of this craft, you should be legally registered and certified. The Authorized User Logo must be imprinted on all the plates, to ascertain its genuine and authentic nature.

Also Read: Thanjavur Bommai, Thanjavur Veena

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