Unit -1 (XI)

PREHISTORIC ROCK PAINTINGS (Period: 2500 B.C. to 1500B.C.)

INTRODUCTION

Prehistoric artwork dates back to nearly 25,000 years ago and is found in many culturally diverse regions of the world and has been produced bent as a part of ritual. These artworks were carried out when the land was covered with forests; habitants took refuge under the rock in caves and hollow tree trunks, near streams or by rivers. most primitive paleolithic man were wanderers and moved from place to place.They lived on scavenging, hunting and food gathering. unwary of how to grow   his food, he survived on fruits, birds’ animals   raw meats etc.

Archeological studying these artworks discovered a large number of sites where primitive men took shelter in caves and believed that they likely had magic religious significance. such artworks are often divided into three forms: petroglyphs, which are carved into the rock surface; pictographs, which are painted onto the surface; and earth figures, engraved into the ground.

Rock paintings are found on cave walls and ceiling and evidence suggests that they were not merely for decorations. These paintings were located in areas of caves   that were not easily accessibly or have signs of ongoing habitations. Some theories hold that cave paintings may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe a religious or ceremonial purpose to them. some are of the opinion that men were weak to fight with natural disasters and kill the big beasts, therefore they painted on the cave’s walls with wood stone and mud as painting would have magical powers and give them enough strength to combat.

The rock paintings are remarkably similar around the world with animal being a common subject, generally wild animals, suitable for hunting by humans, such as bison horses, elephants, sheep, goat’s aurochs and deer. Besides this image of human hands as well as abstract patterns called finger fluting are also found. mostly hand stencils are made by blowing pigment on a hand held to the wall are depicted.

Period: about the period of prehistoric scholars has different views, some says it was in the period of 25000 B.C.-15000 B.C. but on account of some findings we have to conclude that the period of prehistoric arts is 2500 B.C. TO 1500B.C. we find so many cave and wall paintings all over the world.

Location: The rock art have been discovered in many parts of India and world .in India the rock paintings have been found on the walls of the caves spread in the Kaimur range, Raigarh, Hosangabad, Mirzapur, Panchmadhi, Bhimbetka, Raichur etc.they are the earliest paintings. They have bold, strong lines and are executed mainly in vivid ochre, red white, yellow earth and black colors. They make colors by crushing “gerua”, real chalk, colored stone and boiled the powder, in the animal fat and then lifted the hot color with long brushes made up of straw and applied it on the rock face. This signifies that our ancestors knew how to make colors and brushes .at some places the art work is scratched on stones.

The themes of the art work are from the everyday events of eons ago like hunting, communal dancing, horse and elephant riding, animal fights, honey collection, decoration of bodies, disguises, masks and figures of animals etc. some of these paintings have survived thousands of years as dense forests and vegetation protected these rocks paintings from being lost to the vagaries of nature.

Our prehistoric paintings are similar to those found in metopes in Zimbabwe, Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France. The simplicity ,directness  and vitality of primitive paintings  has inspired many great artist of the world .the most exclusive paleolithic sites in India ,which contains the rocks paintings and carvings  is Bhimbetka rock shelters ,located in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh ,45km south of Bhopal  at the southern edge of “Vindhyachal Hills” .the oldest paintings are considered to be 30,000 years old  and belong to the paleolithic and Mesolithic ages , chalcolithic ,early historic and even medieval times. Vegetable colors were used and lasted through the time because the drawings were generally made deep inside the niche or inner walls. Bhimbetka rock shelters were included the world heritage list in 1970.

The drawings and paintings can be classified under seven different periods.

Period 1- (Upper Paleolithic)

The highlight of this period is linear representation and geometric patterns. The prominent colors are green and red, depicting stick like human figure and huge figure of animal such as bison, tiger boars and rhinoceroses.

Period 2-(Mesolithic)

The highlight of this period is that stylized figures show linear decoration on the body. Besides animal and human figure hunting scenes are also depicted as type of weapons such as barbed spears, pointed sticks, bows and arrows are painted. The daily life is also portrayed in artworks, like communal dance, birds’ musical instruments, mother and children, pregnant women, men carrying dead animals, drinking and burials. the painting of this period is comparatively small in size.

Period 3(chalcolithic)

The drawing of this period reveals that the men became from food collector to food producer. This process helped the cave dwellers to come out of their area and were in contact with the agricultural communities of the malva plains, exchanging goods with them.

Period 4 and 5(early historic)

The paintings of this area are mainly in red, white and yellow color, the figure has a schematic and decorative style. The characteristics of this period is depiction of religious symbols, represented by figures of yaksha, tree gods and magical sky chariots. also, the association of riders, tunic like dresses and the existence of script are depicted.

Period 6 and 7- (medieval)

The paintings of this period are geometric, linear and more schematic, but the artistic style was not refined as it shows degeneration and crudeness. The cave dwellers prepared by the colors by combining manganese hematite and wooden coal.

 WIZARD’S DANCE

NAME:   WIZARD’S DANCE

MEDIUM:  MINERAL COLOR STONE

PERIOD: 2500 B.C. TO 1500 B.C. (Stone age)

LOCATION: BHIM BETHAKA CAVE 50Km SOUTH OF BHOPAL (M.P)

 SUBJECT MATTER / THEME: A ceremonial dance of the wizard’s like cave men to depict some joyful celebration or some ritualistic dance to please a god.

DESCRIPTION: the painting is on cave wall in Bhimbetka   of M.P. This is perhaps the earliest example of the development of music, dance theatre and use of masks.

On one side there is figure standing in a joyful mood with arms outstretched. there are two more figures are in the middle, one seated and one standing. they are wearing, masks on the face and horns on the heads. Thick black lines are drawn without any filling of color in them. the figure is simple, elongated, stick like and curved at places showing movement and high spirits. They are indulging in some dance ritual of prayer or a magical healing or pleasing a powerful jungle god.

Overall, we can say that this wall painting reminds of tribal dances nowadays with body paints. from times immemorial men has been involved in pleasing gods and nature by ritualistic dance and music.

 A ROARING ANIMAL

NAME: A ROARING ANIMAL

MEDIUM: MINERAL COLOR, STONE

PERIOD: 2500 B.C.  TO 150B.C.

LOCATION: BHIMBETHAKA CAVE  50 km SOUTH OF BHOPAL (M.P)

COURTSEY: CENTER OF CULTURAL RESOURCES AND TRAINING CENTER, NEW DELHI

SUBJECT MATTER: hunting scene depicting supremacy of human on other animals in the prehistoric era

 DESCRIPTION: This painting is taken from the wall of a cave in Bhimbetka of M.P in this painting some animals are drawn surrounding a man holding a long weapon like object. one animal is roaring towards a man standing in the center of the composition. on one side a peacock like bird can be seen along with other animals like bull, cow and deer etc. there is a simple stylization in forms which are reduced to simple rectangles and lines. the basic feature like humps or horns are added to these forms which are easily recognized. bold black lines are drawn without any filling of color in them. these simple lines and forms effectively show the skill and flow of the artist. there is a rare example of x – ray imagery because in one cow there is an unborn baby in a miniature form. This shows their development as intelligent beings who could communicate and express through art with the help of simple line drawings. The repetition of animal forms has created a rhythm and movement in the composition. The image above is also on the similar subject.

Here a wild bison is shown raging and attacking a man. He has empowered him as he (man) has now surrendered and is lying on the ground. this could be the hunting scene where the beast acted in defense because there are other human figures also surrounding it. This composition is colored in red to symbolize the bloodshed caused by the attack. the flat forms of the animal and figures lack detail. the large beasts and human depict the clear difference in power between the two species.