Now Chennaiites have a chance to catch a glimpse of the art of Thanjavur with the Thanjavur Plate, a wall plaque made with a combination of copper and silver embedded in brass on display at the Government Museum.
The plate, which will be displayed for a fortnight, belongs to the 20th century and has an embossed design on the central circular metallic disc. It shows lord Nataraja, saint Pathanjali and goddess Sivakami standing on a lotus. The designs around the central motif are mythological birds.
According to sources in the museum, the creation of the Thanjavur plate is credited to Raja Serfoji II (1797-1832), the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur, who asked his royal artisans to create a metal artifact that would reflect the glory of his kingdom. Copper, silver and brass are encrusted together to create this stunning piece of art.
The metal plate has at its base a plate of brass prepared by a heavy metal worker and the relief on copper has been worked by a jeweller while the encrusting has been done by a stone setter with silver.
The tools used to create this piece are hammers, pincers, moulds, punches, chisels, grinding stones and a forge. Since the metals are of immense value, great care is taken for a good finish and too much die or chisel work is avoided.