The Most unique feature of Tanjore Paintings is its 3-D property. Let us explain it further. Tanjore Painting is the only painting to have EMBOSS on it. That is, the painting has areas that are ELEVATED from the surface. A tanjore painting has typically 10 processes. Embossing is one of them.
The other feature is the Real Gold Foil used to stick on the EMBOSSED areas - 22 carat gold foil is used. It is made of real gold and it never fades.
Nowadays, to reduce the overall cost and make more profit, some galleries have started using imitation gold foils (read fake gold foils). Sometimes the customers are aware of it and sometimes they are not- they get cheated.
Care has to be taken while evaluating the authenticity of the gold foil. One should look for shops/ artists providing ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ for the gold foils.
Needless to say, Tanjore paintings are informed by a syncretic style, notable for its assimilation of the contemporary diverse cultural influences – Tamil, Telugu, Maratha, European, Deccani, Folk, etc. The style drew heavily from the other major South Indian styles of painting which were all deeply influenced by the Vijayanagar school. The closest influences among these could be the Kalamkari and Tirupati paintings.
Artists, in modern days, have taken this old form of art and over the years combined it with other styles to create mixed media arts. For example, tanjores are also done on mirrors, glass and canvas. The idea of applying gold foil is unique to this traditional art, so this same style is taken and recreated on different mediums.