02 August, 2021

Gods Spoke To Them

A collection of Thanjavur paintings is seen afresh as objects of worship, not as mere things of beauty

Gods Spoke To Them

A midst the roar of popular ima­ges of Hindu gods and goddesses in the style known as “Thanjavur paintings” that now flood the market, it’s alm­ost a shock to discover the subdued richness of the originals.

They do not shout. They signal. They do not behave like garrulous tour guides crudely displaying nuggets of information for the entertainment of multitudes. They create mul­­tiple interpretations that call for repeated viewings. At times there is no explanation.

The Marg issue devoted to Tha­nja­vur’s Gilded Gods examines the extr­aordinary journey of one collector, Kul­dip Singh, an architect and town planner whose interest in the genre happened almost by accident. As Nayanjot Lahiri says in the introduction, Singh was at first reluctant to acc­ept two Thanjavur style paintings that had been sent to him by a dealer. Gradually, he began to feel intrigued by them. “The paintings seemed to grow on me,” he reports. Soon, Singh asked to see more. Some four decades and over 350...

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