Koltan Kalai – The Golden Art

In the Hindu religion god the eternal is worshipped in many forms and names. Each one having a distinct characteristic. Mental images of these gods and goddesses were created consistent with the philosophical ideas of the sub aspects. These were then translated into physical forms like paintings and carved images.

(Courtesy : maps of India )

These paintings are a common sight for any person in India. They have common characteristics : golden embossing, beautiful figures of gods and goddesses, embedded gemstones and extravagant backgrounds. I am talking about the very famous TANJORE PAINTINGS OF TAMIL NADU. These paintings are used as a decorative wall hanging in the house. Koltan Kalai in Tamil means golden art. The beautiful golden embossing done on these paintings are done with  24 kt gold foils are completely authentic. Gold is considered very auspicious in India and people buying gold jewellery during festivals is considered a ritual and holy. Indian women also have a fetish for golden jewellery, it is an important asset for them and a way to flaunt their status. Hence a gold embossed painting of gods and goddesses in India is considered a perfect gift and a perfect decorative accessory for home.

(Courtesy: Picfinder)


Tanjore paintings are known for their surface richness, vivid colours and compact composition. An interesting fact about these paintings is that earlier they were kept in dark temples to enhance the presence of  bright gold paintings in dim lights. This enhanced their look and the paintings came alive and brought life to the temples. These paintings lasts for a very long period , some have known to be existed for around 80-100 years. In order to revive this art form artists are developing techniques where easily available materials are replacing the old ones. Suddenly old Tanjore paintings, relegated till the other day to prayer rooms and attics, have begun to find a prime place in plush drawing-rooms as well as corporate offices. 

With time the importance of the artform has been declining. The major demands off these paintings is up north while in south these paintings are being taken for granted. Many classes have sprung up that teach this artform due to which a lot of people have taken this either as a full time self employment work or housewives , students and professionals have joined in as a hobby.

(Courtesy: IndiaMatter)


Meena Muthiah, who runs a Tanjore painting school in Madras, still tries to stick to gold and the tradition as much as possible. But most cannot afford it and the nouveau riche buyer doesn’t even insist. Remarks a dismayed Muthiah: “People come to exhibitions asking for a Tanjore painting for Rs 200. And there are dealers who will conjure it up too.” Inevitably, what pass for new Tanjores are often garish efforts, replete with confetti, coloured beads and aluminium foil.

We at loveknits are trying to revive this art form and make it a beautiful house accent. To know more please write to us or buy these beautiful paintings from a collection coming soon on our website.

(Courtesy: golden streak)