CHAPTER-III The paintings at Jogimara caves and Ajanta caves No. IX & X are the example of Indian...

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Transcript of CHAPTER-III The paintings at Jogimara caves and Ajanta caves No. IX & X are the example of Indian...

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    Less than thirty years ago, the west had settled down to the comfortable feeling that

    there was no such art like painting in IndiaV But, the evidences of number of cave paintings bearing

    traces of haemetite drawing of a highly interesting nature, roughly relates to prehistoric paintings

    in central provinces at the 'Kaimur Ranges', and on a Ranges of hills, immediately at the east of

    the Mand river, near the village of Singhanpur, in Raigarh State^. Stone age paintings, on ' Vindhya

    hills^' and ancient and archaic paintings on the caves in the MirzSpur Distt. of United Provinces'*,

    might reveal the clues not only on the birth of paintings in India but also confirms the fact that

    these earliest specimens of Indian (Art) paintings are mainly a phenomenon, remote and isolated.

    There is a hiatus of probably thousands of years between these apparently dateless

    specimens of the early culture of India and the first actual historic record of this art. The most

    ancient and concrete example of dateable paintings are found on the walls of the Jogtmara caves

    of the Ramgarh hill in sirguja (First cent. B.C.) and in Ajanta caves, which cover the period of

    about six centuries of Indian paintings from c.A.D. 100 - 628.

    The paintings at Jogimara caves and Ajanta caves No. IX & X are the example of Indian

    paintings related to the period under study (c.200 B.C. - 300 A.D.). Cave No. X belongs to 2nd

    cent. B.C. while cave No. IX belongs to 1 st cent. B.C. It contains about a dozen paintings records

    which also support the date. The style, subject matter, aesthetic merits, colour schemes and

    techniques employed in these concrete examples of painting are worth to be noted. They had

    definite impact on the Asian and Eastern countries culture and throws considerable light on

    contemporary Socio-economic conditions of the time.

    Some subde reference to the pictorial art (Chittajcaiinna) occurs in Jain, Buddhist and

    epic literature. Percy Brown and Mulkraj Anand refers to a legend that the supreme god Brahama

    himself created the paintings^. References to painter (Chitrakara)^, various motives and subject

    matter^, painted by him, in the palaces of picture halls (Chittagara)^ and picture galleries (Chitta

    Sabha)^ are mentioned in ancient and contemporary literature'". A more elaborate description

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    pertaining to the techniques and requisites of Indian paintings are discussed in 'Sadanga' (The

    six limbs of paintings) in Kamasiitra of Vatsyayana reference. The author, who perhaps lived in

    4th cent. A.D. claims that he extracted these principles from the ancient works". The six limbs

    of Sadanga'have been rendered as foUows^ :̂-

    1. RHpa Bheda - The knowledge of appearances.

    2. PramSnam - Correct perception, measure and structure.

    3. Bhava - Action of feelings on forms.

    4. Lavanya Yojanarii - Infusion of grace, artistic representation.

    5. Sadri^yam - Similitude.

    6. Varmikabhariga - Knowledge of colours and brush work proper to its subject.

    Thus, literary evidences corroborate in the references to the presence of great painted

    halls of the ancient paintings with the fact that there had been wall paintings like those in Jogimara

    caves and in the picture galleries of the Ajanta caves which came to be painted in contemporary

    period and afterwards.


    The paintings at Jogimara unfortunately have been restored by uncultured hands. So the

    original pictures are in bad shape. But after careful look it seems that, they were basically designed

    as wall paintings. Though crude brush work in red and black paint but with well-intentioned

    efforts, which had almost succeeded in obliterating the old design.

    A variety of subjects have been depicted in the scheme of a series of concentric panels

    such as - houses (architecture), animals and figures. Though, the forms are much defaces but they

    are like those of plastic arts of the same period. They are in round panels. But on the borders,

    fishes, makara, man, lions and water monsters were repeated.

    The unsuitable Indian climate, ateing of colours by white ants and dripping of water

    destroyed the plaster of walls on which the painting was done. In the same way the structural

    edifices of this period, build undoubtedly of wood and unbaked brick were even less lasting. The

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    surface of these structures were believed to have been finished by means of a roughly prepared

    plaster ground and as shown in some cases were decorated with paintings. No intact example of

    the structures bearing the painting of the period has been found at Jogimara by now.

    Aesthetic Merit: The forgoing description of these early brush forms conveys the

    impression that their general character, except for the one special quality already referred to, is

    distinctly primitive and that the art was crude and undeveloped in this period. But, it appears

    unconvincing, as documentary evidences seem to indicate that the painting in India was in a

    comparatively advanced stage in their aesthetic impression even before the period under

    reference. Early authentic and literary references dealing with various aspects of painting before

    the spread of the Buddhist religion supports this. Taking this fact into consideration, it can be

    presumed that the primitive character of the frescoes at Ramgarh Hill is not consistent with the

    general testimony and an art of a much more refined nature^''.


    The paintings appear to have been executed under the Satvahana rulers of deccan. The

    first impression, from what has survived of the crowded picture, is that of the sheer splendour of

    colours energies in seemingly any how juxtapositions of free forms. The dominant emphasis is

    on the curve, the graceful bend and linear rhythm. The gliding movement up and down the surface,

    which was incipient in the singing line of clay and stone figures seems to have been in Ajanta.

    At Ajanta the treatment of rhythmic line makes for a plasticity, a lyrical movement and a

    dynamism, which releases new energies from the silent areas.

    Although the compositions are large in extent, the majority of the figures in the painting

    are less than life size, but the principal characters in most of the designs are in heroic proportions.

    Centrality is one of the main features of the compositions, so that attention is at once drawn to

    the most important person in each scene. Each figure naturally falls into its correct place. Posed

    in impressive and stately attitude, the contours of these figures are superb and reveal a keen

    perception of the beauty of form.

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    Except one or perhaps two of the scenes, which depicts contemporary historical

    episodes, the subjects throughout are exclusively Buddhist, associated with the Jatakas'^ At the

    same time, there is evidence that some of them are largely secular in subject and apparently

    represent the doings of Kings and the court-life of the time. The general atmosphere of the Ajanta

    paintings suggests an earthly paradise, containing sacred palaces and peopled with semidivine

    beings. The stories illustrated are continuous. A few examples enumerated as below:-

    The dexterously painted 'Saddanta' Jtltaka in cave No. X (2nd cent. B.C. to 1st cent.

    A.D.) relates the story of the Boddhisattava in his elephant incarnation.

    The first part of the narrative shows the curvacious form of energised elephants playing

    and gambolling in the foliage of the jungle. The rounded contours of the bodies of the hunters

    and the royal beasts are outlines in action from all sides, clearly distinct from each other. The

    many branched trees and the foliage are vibrant because of the relative contrast of their sharp lines

    against the coherent animals. The elephant playing, with the six tusks, introduces a drama within

    the lines and is exalted by the dots on his body as the most sacred animal. The python like trees

    on the left and the flow of lines in the other part of the scene, heighten the energies of the picture.

    The six-tusked king elephant is supposed to be pacifying his jealous wife. But oitis not conscious

    of the theme here as much as of the pulsating life of the forest, with the free interplay of wild

    elephants and their hunters (See Pl.IX, Fig.42).

    The second part of the same story deals with a palace scene. The jealous she-elephant

    has been incarnated as a queen. In her rage she gets her husband, the king, to order the hunter to

    kill the six-tusked elephant and bring his ivory tusks. The hunter returns with the tusks soon,

    because the six-tusked elephant willingly offered himself to be killed. At the sight of the prize,

    the queen is horror-struck and faints, because she remembers that she had once been the wife of

    the holy elephant with the six tusks. The drama of the shock is important to the theme. The

    multitude helps to intensify her sorrow (See Pl.IX, Fig.43).

    Thus, the treatment of the pictorial situation in the other parts of this long panel, in the

    continuous, almo