Here is an introduction to southern Indian state of Tamilnadu’s rich & vibrant art-forms.
From solid stone Dravidian temple architecture and Tanjore Swamimalai bronze statues with beautiful features, to the grand Tanjore paintings with gold & precious gems, the elaborately carved brass lamps, Tamilnadu’s traditional arts and crafts define mind boggling variety and splendour in all its brightest hues.
It was with the view to preserve and foster these brilliant art forms of Tamilnadu that Poompuhar Emporium of Government of Tamilnadu came into existence.
Poompuhar is a treasure trove of the best collections of handicrafts from the South Indian State of Tamilnadu in India.
Poompuhar relentlessly aims to encourage and hone the talent of the handicrafts artisans of Tamilnadu, by training them, helping them improve their product quality and providing them with social security by marketing their products worldwide, in every possible way.
Poompuhar also helps preserve the traditional culture, making sure these ancient art and craft forms of India never become extinct from the surface of this land.
Poompuhar Emporium has 18 beautiful showrooms across the country, thereby creating a steady source of income for these brilliant handicrafts artisans.
In addition, Poompuhar also has its own manufacturing centres at Swamimalai for bronze icons, Nachiarkoil, Madurai and Vagaikulam for traditional brass oil lamps, Tanjavur for art plates, Kallakuruchi for Sandalwood carving and Mamallapuram for stone sculpture.
Poompuhar also specialises in executing huge temple projects, such as building golden chariots, silver chariots, wooden temple car, temple Kodimarams, temple Vahanams, temple bells and other requirements of Indian temples.
Poompuhar does this with its highly talented and skilled Sthapathies (artisans), who carry out all works according to the ancient Indian treatises on these art forms.
Poompuhar is committed to the upliftment of the handicrafts artisans of Tamil Nadu.
Swamimalai Bronze Statues
Images of Hindu temple deity are usually made of stone, and sometimes of wood. Large bronze images were created to be carried outside during temple festivities through the town.
The most popular bronze image globally is that of Lord Shiva (Nataraja) in the Ananda Thandavam (Cosmic dance) pose that represents knowledge, happiness and destruction of evil.
Ganesha in various postures, such as standing, sitting, dancing, lying down & meditating is the next most sought-after bronze statue.
All the beautiful temples that dot Tamilnadu, have earned the state the title of “the land of temples”. The sculptors’ brilliant creativity & artistic skill is displayed in all the temples of the state.
Madurai Meenakshi temple, Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple, Mylapore Kapaleeshwarar temple, Chidambaram Nataraja temple, all are unique & simply beautiful in their own ways.
Traditional Brass Lamps
The spiritual beauty of traditional brass lamps of Tamil Nadu becomes most evident during the Karthigai (the Tamil month that falls in November-December period) when all homes are adorned with beautiful lamps of various designs.
Filled with oil and lit with cotton wicks, these lamps are placed outside homes, at the entrance and even inside, for a period of nearly a month.These brass lamps heighten the solemnity of any occasion.
Lamps come in various sizes and shapes — on pedestals, freestanding, hung from a chain or hand-held. These lamps could weigh anywhere between 50 gm to 500 kg. They are always seated on top of a pedestal.
Standing lamps are known as ‘Kuthu-Vilakku’. They consist of a bowl with or without beaks to support five wicks. These stand on thin, tall pedestals and are adorned with religious symbols, mostly the mythical swan, at the top.
Some of these lamps come with multiple steps with each supporting more than one such five-wicked bowl.
Votive lamps are used by the priest in the performance of the Arathi (offering prayers to the Lord with the use of lamps) and have decorative handles.
Hand-lamps have elaborate decorations at the back, usually Gajalakshmi (the goddess of wealth Lakshmi, with elephants on either side).
Hanging lamps too have intricately carved decorations on the bowl and are suspended by equally beautiful chains.Traditional Brass Lamps
Thanjavur Paintings & Thanjavur Art PlatesBoth,Thanjavur paintings and art plates were craft forms that developed in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu in the 18th centuries.
These paintings, which are famous for their use of gold leaf foil and embedded precious and semi-precious stones, are done on materials like wood, glass, mica, ivory, murals and manuscripts.
The images in this art-form are unique. While early paintings were embedded with real diamonds, rubies and other precious stones, it is now artificial and semi-precious stones that rule the scene.
Tanjore art plates make for good souvenirs and are extensively used as gift items.
Like most art forms in Tamil Nadu, wooden craft too achieved great prominence in the ancient past, in the temples of the region.
Craftsmen beautifully used their creativity in building temple procession chariot. These temple chariots are huge and need many people to help pull and push them through vast crowd of devotees during temple festivities.
Carved Temple doors too are some of the greatest work of art. Exquisite wood-work was also in vogue in traditional homes that had carved panels on both sides of the front door and wooden pillars inside the house.
The panels usually had auspicious motifs, such as the mythical swan, lotus and Poornakumbha (symbolizing abundance of wealth and well-being), apart from deities and floral patterns.
Some of the beautiful & mesmerizing handicrafts of Tamilnadu have been shared in this blogpost. Similar, and even far superior quality artifacts are available at the brick & mortar showroom of Poompuhar Emporium, if you ever happen to visit the showroom located at the addresses shared in this post.