Ajanta Paintings- Appreciation of Mahajanaka Jataka Composition

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Jataks stories are the common themes in Ajanta paintings. Mahajanak Jataka painted in Cave One is one of the important compositions. A Presentation byf Prof. Subramanian Swaminathan on the paintings of Ajanta.

Transcript of Ajanta Paintings- Appreciation of Mahajanaka Jataka Composition

  • 1. Paintings of Ajanta Caves(2nd century BC to 6th century AD)Appreciation ofMahajanaka JatakacompositionbyS. Swaminathan(sswami99@gmail.com)

2. Presented byS. Swaminathan
3. Mahajanaka Jataka is
an important composition in Cave 1
to the Baroque period (6th century AD).
Due to fortunate survival
of most of the composition
the narration is taken
for a detailed discussion
4. The Story
Bodhi-sattva born Mahaajanaka
whose father was banished
from his kingdom
by his brother, Pola-janaka.
Mahaa-janaka went all over the world
as a merchant and
amassed enough wealth
to help him regain
his father's kingdom
5. The Story
Pola-janaka died survived
by his most beautiful
and haughty daughter, Shivaali
Three almost impossible conditions
were set to marry her.
Mahaa-janaka fulfilled all three
and married Shivaali
6. The Story
However, the pomp and luxuries of
the palace life was not to his liking.
In spite of the pleadings from his queen,
Mahaa-janaka finally
renounced the world and
went to the Himalayas
to meditate upon the Truth
Narration in this cave starts after
the marriage of Mahaa-janka
7. Importance of the Panel
A major portion has survived
Important from art history point of view
Composition shows the beginning of
deterioration from
the classical elegance
to baroque ostentation
8. Importance of the Panel
Offers scope for a study of
art style and
method of narration of this period
Provides a wealth of information
textile and dress,
musical instruments,
architecture, etc
9. Location of Composition
Scenes from this jaataka are painted on the left wall of the main hall
To Cave 1
10. Composition
Story is in four acts:
1. The king in dilemma
2. He seeks advice from an ascetic
3. He abdicates
4. He leaves the palace
11. Composition
Act 1
King in dilemma
Act 2
King goes to seek advice
Act 3
King abdicates
Act 4
King leaves palace
Ship wreck
(An earlier scene)
12. Composition
Act 1
King in dilemma
Act 2
King goes to seek advice
Ship wreck
(An earlier scene)
Act 3
King abdicates
Act 4
King leaves palace
13. Act OneMahaa-janaka in Dilemma
The newly wed king is dissatisfied
with the pompous life
The queen attempts to captivate
him with all her charm
The king goes out to seek advice
from an ascetic
14. Scene 1: Queen captivating
Scene 2: Dancer with musicians
15. The Scene
16. Mahaa-janaka in Dilemma
The bejewelled king
does not look at Shivali,
but has a wild and
vacant look.
His right hand
suggests despair.
17. Queen captivating
Queen, dressed in
nakedness', leans
against the king.
Every line of her figure
expresses her attitude of
passionate yielding
18. The Court
The maids are looking at
the couple. Their looks
invite the attention the
pathetic king
Variation in poses and
the varieties of textiles
are worth noting
A dwarf in attendance
sitting on the ground
19. Musicians accompanying the Dancer
The dancer is
supported by
musicians playing
flute, cymbals,
drums and
a stringed
20. Dancing Scene
The musicians,
like the dancer,
show great
dynamism and
Characters shown
in variety of body
21. The dancer strikes a graceful pose, her hands a mudra.
She wears a long jacket and
A close-fitting blouse.
Her striped skirt is loose and long.
Her ring set with a small mirror, the ear-rings of elaborate design
Her head-dress of strings of gold beads or pearls.
Her plaits entwined with flowers.
The Dancer
22. The palatial surroundings and decorations,
accompaniment of a host of musical instruments,
The Scene
fantastic garments and elaborate ornaments
all successfully contributed to
a spectacular scene
23. Act TwoKings seeks Advice
The queen was not successful
in her attempt
in holding back the king
Mahaa-janaka's mental turmoil
has not ceased
He goes to Himavali Hills
to seek advice from an ascetic
24. The Scene
King listening
King on an
25. Mahaa-janaka goes out
Mahaa-janaka goes out through
the Palace-gate on an Elephant
26. Mahaa-janaka meets an Ascetic
The ascetic is delivering
a sermon. The king
listens in deep reverence
A pair of deer is seen with
faces tilted up,
as if in rapt attention.
27. The King listens tothe Sermon
Casting off most ornaments,
the king listens to the sermon
in great humility and
utter surrender,
his hands folded in prayer.
28. Act ThreeMahaa-janaka announces his Decision
The enlightened king announces
his decision to abdicate
The queen listens stoically
while the royal household
is perplexed
29. The Scene
30. Queen Mother admonishes Shivali
Queen-mother admonishes
the queen for letting
the king meet the ascetic
31. Mahaa-janka announces his Decision
The king, serene and
composed, announces
his decision to renounce
32. Shivali receives the News
The queen,
better clad and composed,
the heart-breaking news
33. Bewildered Royal Household
All are in great animation.
One girl stunned
with her eyebrows drawn
and eyes dilated.
Another is musing with a
finger on her cheek
Exquisite portrayal of women in varieties of postures
34. Act FourMahaa-janaka abdicates
Finally, the king leaves the country
to meditate on the dharma
35. Mahaa-janaka Departs
King leaves in full
regal splendour,
led by a procession
of his loyal subjects
36. RoyalMusicians
A flautist, a conch-blower, a cymbal player
and a mridangist lead the procession
37. Women watching the Procession
Geese-motif of
the dress worn by
a woman is noteworthy
An example of
expert draughtsmanship
and excellent colouring
38. Portrayal of Characters
This mural affords excellent scope
for studying of portrayal of characters
Continuity in dress and physical features of characters maintained
while bringing out contrast in
the expressions of characters
39. Mahajanaka and Shivali
The king depicted three times
and the queen twice
Though the location the same,
the emotional atmosphere
40. Mahajanaka
In dilemma
Listening to Sermon
41. In Dilemma
The newly-wed king
in regal splendour
- two rows of necklaces
sparkling with diamonds
and pearls, and
pearl-studded sacred-thread
But he has
a vacant look
his mental conflict
and his hands
showing his inner pain
42. Listens to Sermon
When he met the ascetic the elaborate necklace replaced with
a less ostentatious one
Now his deportment of humility and utter surrender,
his hands folded in prayer.
43. Abdicating
He had cast off
every-thing including
the sacred-thread, excepting
the close fitting beads.
His visage is serene,
but of determination.
His hands compose preaching-attitude
he has now found
the path.
44. Shivali
Hearing the News
45. Captivating
Dressed in nakedness
she is determined
to win over
her husband using
all her charm.
46. Receiving the News
She is now better-draped, sitting before the king,
fully composed and ready
to receive
the heart-breaking news.
47. Musicians andMusical Instruments
Ajanta offers Scope for studying
Indian Musical Heritage
A Variety of musical Instruments
depicted from
2nd Century BC to 6th Century AD
Both Continuity and Change
over the Ages can be studied
48. Dancer is accompaniedby musicians playing
cymbals and flutes
common even today,
the bell-shaped drum,
closer to todays udukku
used in folk music,
standing drum and
strinag instrument,
both obsolete.
49. In the scene of the king abdicating the musicians shown playing
used even today
heralding arrival of
gods or dignitaries,
(or pakhawaj) and
flutes in use today
50. Musicians are shown
in Padmapani
panel, Cave 1
in Descent
of Indra,
Cave 17
51. Dancers and Dancing
Dancers have been portrayed
both in the pre-christian era
paintings and in the later scenes
Change over this period and
continuity till date can be studied
52. Dancing in the Hinayana Period
Scanty clothing and
ornaments restricted to
conch-shell bangles
are stamp of
unaffected spontaneity
of the pre-christian era
53. Dancingin the Mahayana Period
Dancing is now more stylised.
Beautifully designed garments,
the glittering trinkets and
bewildering coiffure
of the dancer
Dancing pose, gestures,
shape of eyes and
the general atmosphere
epitomise an advance