Pre – Historic Rock Paintings

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  • Iconography - identification of images through certain symbols/signs and relevant myths or narrative episodes
  • Iconology- study of evolution of such signs and symbols in its historical, social and philosophical context.
  • The prehistoric period in the early development of human beings is commonly known as the Old Stone Age or the Palaeolithic Age.
  • the Upper Palaeolithic times- artistic activities, drawings were human figures, human activities, geometric designs and symbols.
  • In India the earliest paintings have been reported from the Upper Palaeolithic times.
  • the first discovery of rock paintings was made in India in 1867 – 68 by an archaeologist, Archibold Carlleyle, twelve years before the discovery of Altamira in Spain.
Rock Paintings by Archaeologist, Archibold Carlleyle
  • Remnants of rock paintings have been found on the walls of the caves situated in several districts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar.
  • Paintings -Kumaon hills in Uttarakhand.
  • The rock shelters on banks of the River Suyal at Lakhudiyar, about twenty kilometres on the Almora – Barechina road, bear these prehistoric paintings.
  • Lakhudiyar literally means one lakh caves.
  • The paintings here can be divided into three categories: man, animal and geometric patterns in white, black and red ochre.
  • A long-snouted animal, a fox and a multiple legged lizard are the main animal motifs.
  • Wavy lines, rectangle-filled geometric designs, and groups of dots can also be seen here.
  • One of the interesting scenes depicted here is of hand-linked dancing human figures.
  • Superimposition of paintings in black; over these are red ochre paintings and the last group comprises white paintings.
  • Kashmir-two slabs with engravings have been reported.
  • The granite rocks of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh provided suitable canvases to the Neolithic man for his paintings.
  • famous sites among them are Kupgallu, Piklihal and Tekkalkota.
  • Three types of paintings have been reported from here — paintings in white, paintings in red ochre over a white background and paintings in red ochre.
  • The richest paintings are reported from the Vindhya ranges of Madhya Pradesh and their Kaimurean extensions into Uttar Pradesh.
  • Palaeolithic and Mesolithic remain, and they are also full of forests, wild plants, fruits, streams and creeks, thus a perfect place for Stone Age people to live.
  • largest and most spectacular rock-shelter is located in the Vindhya hills at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Eight hundred rock shelters, five hundred of which bear paintings.
  • Hunting, dancing, music, horse and elephant riders, animal fighting, honey collection, decoration of bodies, and other household scenes.
  • The drawings and paintings can be categorised into seven historical periods. Period I, Upper Palaeolithic; Period II, Mesolithic; and Period III, Chalcolithic.

Upper Palaeolithic Period

  • Are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge animal figures, such as bisons, elephants, tigers, rhinos and boars besides stick-like human figures?
  • Filled with geometric patterns.
  • The green paintings are of dancers and the red ones of hunters.
Green Paintings

Mesolithic Period-

  • The largest number of paintings belongs to Period II that covers the Mesolithic paintings.
  • During this period the themes multiply but the paintings are smaller in size.
  • The hunting scenes depict people hunting in groups, armed with barbed spears, pointed sticks, arrows and bows.
  • Simple clothes and ornaments.
  • Men have been adorned with elaborate head-dresses, and sometimes painted with masks also. Elephant, bison, tiger, boar, deer, antelope, leopard, panther, rhinoceros, fish, frog, lizard, squirrel and at times birds are also depicted.
  • artists loved to paint animals. In some pictures, animals are chasing men.
  • Though animals were painted in a naturalistic style, humans were depicted only in a stylistic manner.
  • Women are painted both in the nude and clothed.
  • Community dances provide a common theme.
  • There are paintings of people gathering fruit or honey from trees, and of women grinding and preparing food.
  • Some of the pictures of men, women and children seem to depict a sort of family life.
Mesolithic Period for Indian Culture
  • In many of the rock-shelters we find hand prints, first prints, and dots made by the fingertips.

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