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Thanjavur plate artisans seek government help

A few years from now, the Thanjavur plate, a traditional metal art craft, would be a thing of the past, as almost all the artisans have started to switch over to other trades, due to poor patronage, pushing the craftsmen to the edge of poverty. Many are finding it difficult to earn enough to meet their daily needs.

Thanjavur plate artisans seek government help
A richly embossed Thanjavur plate


Of the 250 registered artistes in the Thanjavur Art Plate Workers Association, only 50 are full time artisans, while others have switched over to carpentry. The craft has been handed down over successive generations, but the artisans say the time-consuming and detailed work generates hardly any income. “On an average, an artisan can make three or four plates a day. He earns approximately Rs 80 a plate, working between five and ten days in a month. For the rest of the month, the workers are left jobless. They are forced to borrow money at an exorbitant rate of  interest, to run their families”, said  K Selvaraj, a native of Palace area in Thanjavur where many of the artisans reside. 

Desperate to stay with the art, they want government support and aid. “The state government should come forward to market the original Thanjavur plates through government outlets like Poompuhar and help the artisans by conducting art exhibitions,” said many of them. 

The internationally acknowledged work of art was first introduced by Rajah Serfoji II between 1777 and 1832, during the Maratha rule in Thanjavur and the art plate was made as an exclusive gift item during those days. 

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