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

Rock Paintings by Archaeologist, Archibold Carlleyle

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

    Green Paintings

    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.

Image of Mesolithic Period For Indian Culture

Image of Mesolithic Period for Indian Culture

Image of Mesolithic Period For Indian Culture

In many of the rock-shelters we find hand prints, first prints, and dots made by the fingertips.