Tanjore painting is a major form of classical South Indian painting from the town of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. The art form dates back to about 1600 AD, a period when the Nayakas of Thanjavur encouraged art—chiefly, classical dance and music—as well as literature, both in Telugu and Tamil. Tanjore paintings are known for their surface richness, vivid colors and compact composition. Essentially serving as devotional icons, the subjects of most paintings are Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints. Episodes from Hindu tradition are drawn upon as elaborations of the main figure or figures placed in the central section of the picture. Tanjore paintings are panel paintings done on solid wood planks, and hence referred to as palagai padam (palagai = "wooden plank"; padam = "picture") in local parlance. In modern times, these paintings have become souvenirs of festive occasions in South India, pieces to decorate walls, and collectors' items for art lovers.