Ajanta Paintings

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A Presentation by Prof. Subramanian Swaminathan on the paintings of Ajanta
Buddhist paintings on the walls and ceilings of the 29 caves in Ajanta are not only the ealiest in India but also the best the subcontinent produced. These are also the forerunniners of religious paintings of India and Indian Asia.

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Ajanta Paintings

  1. 1. Paintings of Ajanta Caves(2nd century BC to 6th century AD)<br />S. Swaminathan<br />(sswami99@gmail.com)<br />
  2. 2. Introduction<br />
  3. 3. Ajanta is a great art treasure.<br />They contain some exquisite sculptures, <br /> and more importantly, <br /> paintings of unrivalled beauty. <br />Its caves are a fine example of <br /> rock-cut architecture.<br />
  4. 4. from early phase of the pre-Christian era,<br />In these caves can be seen the development of Art<br />reaching classical perfection,<br />falling off into mannerism<br />and then to baroque ornamentation<br />and, finally, lapsing into artistic decline<br />
  5. 5. Ajanta is a storehouse of information <br />about the period:<br />costumes,<br />textile design,<br />Jewellery,<br />musical heritage,<br />social order,<br />court etiquette,<br />ideas of beauty and morality,<br />customs and <br />its sense of wit.<br />
  6. 6. The paintings tell us about <br /> the technical aspects of their art: <br />preparation of the ground,<br />execution of the painting itself,<br />with sense of perspective, space division, <br />colour-overlay, <br />preparation of the pigments,<br />harnessing of the visual and tactile senses,<br />pacing of the narrative.<br />
  7. 7. The spirit of Ajanta influenced<br />the religious art <br />of the whole of Asia<br />The Ajanta paintings are the earliest surviving paintings of India, <br />religious or secular<br />
  8. 8. The Indian artist, while depicting Buddhist themes, did not feel the need to make <br />a translation from foreign to familiar terms<br />In fact, the Ajanta painting tradition is truly <br /> an indigenous religious art tradition. <br />The Buddha and His disciples were Indians. <br />
  9. 9. Location of Ajanta<br />
  10. 10. The caves of Ajanta are situated<br />in the district of Aurangabad<br />in the state of Maharashtra. <br />Ajanta is about 100 km from Aurangabad and <br />about 60 km from Jalgaon.<br />An extended stay at Aurangabad <br /> would be rewarding, <br /> as the equally important <br /> monuments of Ellora are <br /> only about 30 km away.<br />
  11. 11. The possible explanation for<br />the monastic establishment at Ajanta <br />is its proximity to the ancient trade routes.<br />
  12. 12. Ajanta<br />Aurangabad<br />Mumbai<br />It is about 100 km from Aurangabad<br />
  13. 13. Mumbai<br />
  14. 14. Period of Excavation<br />
  15. 15. First Phase<br />Hinayana period (2nd - 1st centuries BC)<br />The earliest caves (Nos. 8, 9, 10, 13 & 15A)<br />were excavated <br /> during the rule of the Satavahana-s, <br /> who had their capital at Pratishthana. <br />During their rule there was <br /> brisk trade and commerce <br /> within the land and <br /> with the Mediterranean world, <br /> which brought in enormous riches.<br />
  16. 16. Second Phase<br />Mahayana period (4th– 6th centuries AD)<br />The second phase was of <br /> greater artistic activity at Ajanta<br /> and the remaining caves were excavated<br /> during the rule of <br /> the Vakataka and the Chalukya dynasties <br /> from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD. <br />
  17. 17. Patronage<br />
  18. 18. The rulers, the Satavahana-s, <br /> the Vakataka-s and the Chalukya-s, <br /> were themselves Hindus, <br /> but allowed Buddhism <br /> to flourish in their territory.<br />But there was no direct royal help <br /> during almost the entire period.<br />But the rich mercantile community, <br /> organising itself into guilds, <br /> had provided the requisite patronage.<br />
  19. 19. The entire Ajanta chapter is <br />a tribute to the religious tolerance <br />of the Hindu rulers.<br />
  20. 20. Re-discovery<br />
  21. 21. The precious caves remained <br /> abandoned till 1817 <br /> when they were discovered <br /> by a company of British soldiers. <br />Soon pioneer archaeologists were <br /> attracted to the caves that were lost <br /> to civilization for more than 1200 years.<br />
  22. 22. James Burgess and William Gill <br />made copies of some of the paintings <br />and exhibited in London in 1866.<br />Unfortunately almost all of these perished <br />in a disastrous fire. <br />Later some copies were made <br />by Griffiths and Lady Herringham, <br />and published in 1896 and 1915. <br />Under the patronage of the Nizam, <br />the then ruler of Hyderabad, <br />Yazdani edited and published <br />two volumes on the paintings in 1933.<br />
  23. 23. Rahula and Yashodhara meet the Buddha, Cave 17<br />Reproduction by Herringham<br />Mural<br />
  24. 24. Layout of the Caves<br />
  25. 25. The caves, <br /> lying deep inside the Sahyadri Hills, <br /> are hollowed out on the deep face <br /> of a horseshoe-shaped hillside <br /> with the Waghora river <br /> flowing through it. <br />
  26. 26. Layout<br />17<br />16<br />19<br />The caves are aligned <br /> in a horseshoe form.<br />10<br />9<br /> There are a total of 29 caves. <br />23<br /> The general arrangement was not <br /> pre-planned, as they sprang up <br /> sporadically in different periods.<br />6<br />The caves are numbered <br />not on the basis <br />of period of excavation, <br />but on their physical location. <br />27<br />2<br />1<br />
  27. 27. Views of the Caves<br />
  28. 28. Here are some enchanting views of the caves<br />
  29. 29.
  30. 30.
  31. 31. Undoubtedly suited for uninterrupted <br />meditation and contemplation<br />
  32. 32. A narrow pathway connects the caves <br />to go on a pilgrimage <br />to the highest achievement of Indian Buddhist art <br />
  33. 33.
  34. 34. Rock-cut Architecture<br />
  35. 35. The caves of Ajanta offer an instructive field <br /> for the study of the evolution of <br /> rock-cut architecture. <br />It is unique in the sense<br /> that it can be viewed <br /> as an enterprise of a sculptor.<br />The cave architecture, <br /> at Ajanta and elsewhere, <br /> betrays the strong influence <br /> of wooden construction. <br />
  36. 36. The team was probably drawn from <br /> the profession of carpenters, <br /> with goldsmiths and ivory-carvers<br /> joining hands with the sculptors.<br />
  37. 37. The evolution of rock architecture<br /> took place during two periods: <br /> the Hinayana period <br /> of the pre-Christian era and <br /> the later Mahayana period. <br />
  38. 38. Hinayana period (2nd - 1st centuries BC)<br />During the first phase<br />the sculptural activity<br />was limited. <br />
  39. 39. Mahayana period (4th century onwards)<br />In the second phase <br />sculptural compositions filled <br />the facade, the shrines, etc.<br />Side by side with <br />the excavation of new caves <br />the existing Hinayana caves <br />were suitably modified. <br />
  40. 40. Mahayana period – facade embellished<br />
  41. 41.
  42. 42. The caves of Ajanta are divided into<br />Chaitya-s– Temples<br />Vihara-s- Monasteries<br />
  43. 43. Chaitya-Facade<br />The entrance has<br />a prominent<br />arched window<br />to light<br />the interior<br />Relief sculptures<br />added in<br />Mahayana period<br />
  44. 44. Arched roof<br />Chaitya - Interior<br />Interior consists of<br />a long vaulted nave<br />with a pillared aisle<br />on either side<br />Stupa<br />Far end is semicircular <br />with a stupaat its centre<br />Pillared<br />aisle<br />Vaulted nave<br />
  45. 45. Vihara - Plan<br />Shrine<br />Cells<br />It has<br />a congregationhall<br />Hall<br />withcells<br />for the monks<br />on the inner sides<br />Later ashrine<br />was excavated<br />at the far end<br />Entrance<br />
  46. 46. Vihara - Interior<br />On the left to the entrance is <br />the famous painting of Padmapani<br />A colossal statue of the Buddha <br />is seen in the sanctum<br />
  47. 47. Vihara - Interior<br />Cave 2<br />
  48. 48. Sculpture<br />
  49. 49. During the first phase, the Buddha <br /> was not shown in the human form, <br /> but only through symbols, <br /> such as,<br /> the Wheel, the Bodhi Tree <br /> and the Feet of the Buddha. <br />But during the Mahayana period <br /> sculptures and paintings <br /> of the Buddha <br /> and the Bodhi-sattva-s, <br /> were added.<br />
  50. 50. The sculpture of Ajanta <br />belongs <br /> to the great art-tradition <br /> of contemporary India.<br />Sculpture from the 4th century AD, <br /> is remarkable for <br /> its grace, elegance, <br /> restraint and serenity. <br />
  51. 51. Maha-pari-nirvana, Cave 26<br />
  52. 52. Maha-pari-nirvana, Cave 26<br />
  53. 53. Naga King and <br />his consort <br />Cave 19<br />
  54. 54. However, the general character <br /> of the sculpture of Ajanta <br /> tends towards a certain heaviness of form, <br /> and is considered inferior <br /> to the Gupta images.<br />
  55. 55. Hariti Shrine, Cave 2<br />
  56. 56. Every one of the sculptures<br />was plastered and painted.<br />But most of the plaster<br />is now lost.<br />Sculpture at the Entrance<br />Cave 17<br />
  57. 57. Themes<br />
  58. 58. Jataka Stories<br />The subjects of the paintings are <br />mostly from<br />the jataka-s, <br />Buddhist mythological stories <br />of the previous lives <br />of the Master<br />
  59. 59. Jataka Stories<br />This is a scene from the story of King Shibi, <br />who offered his own flesh to save a pigeon.<br />
  60. 60. A Scene from Shibi Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  61. 61. Life of the Buddha<br />Episodes from the life of the Buddha form <br />the next important theme.<br />
  62. 62. Life of the Buddha<br />Gautama was meditating under the Bodhi tree <br /> to attain enlightenment. <br />Mara, the Evil Spirit, made many attempts <br /> to dislodge Gautama from His resolve. <br />Mara sent his three most beautiful daughters<br /> to distract Him.<br />When this failed, <br /> Mara summoned his demons <br /> to dislodge Gautama. <br /> But Gautama was calm and unmoved.<br />
  63. 63. Mara’s Episode, Cave 1<br />
  64. 64. Life of the Buddha<br />On the way to Her parent’s house<br /> Mayadevi gave birth to Siddharta <br /> in Lumbini grove of shaala trees.<br />Brahma, Indra and other gods descended<br />to pay their respects to the new-born. <br />
  65. 65. A Scene fromThe Birth of the Buddha, Cave 2 <br />
  66. 66. Solo Pictures<br />Religious<br />There are<br />a few compositions<br />of divinities,<br />but these are not<br />part of any story.<br />Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Cave 1<br />
  67. 67. Solo Pictures<br />Secular<br />A few of the solo-pictures <br />do not seem to have <br />any religious import.<br />
  68. 68. Lady doing her make-up, Cave 17<br />
  69. 69. Decorative<br />The paintings in the last category are <br /> decorative and secular.<br />They fill up all the available space <br /> on the ceilings, pillars, etc.<br />
  70. 70. Mythical birds<br />Clown<br />Floral design<br />Geometrical design<br />Animals<br />Hilarious themes<br />
  71. 71. Composition<br />
  72. 72. Composition of the paintings over the period <br />is an interesting study.<br />
  73. 73. Earlier phase (2nd - 1st centuries BC)<br />Narration arranged is<br />in the form of long canvass,<br />at eye level,<br />progressing from episode to episode<br />The Raja with his Retinue, Cave 10<br />
  74. 74. Later phase (4th century AD onwards)<br />Later the paintings overspread <br /> the entire surface of the wall. <br />In these paintings narratives proceed <br /> from scene to scene and <br /> from act to act<br /> harmoniously. <br />The scenes are not separated <br /> into frames that might disturb <br /> the concentration <br /> of the viewing devotees.<br />
  75. 75. Later phase (4th century AD onwards)<br />An interesting feature of the narration, <br /> from the earlier times,<br />is that a strict chronology of events<br /> was not followed. <br />In many panels scenes are <br /> grouped according <br /> to the location of the scenes. <br />The composition of Matriposhaka Jataka, <br /> is typical of this period.<br />
  76. 76. Matri-poshaka Jataka<br />Cave 17<br />Bodhisattva born as Matri-poshaka, <br /> a white elephant, lives in a forest taking care of his blind parents.<br />Once the elephant rescues a man, and requests him <br /> not to divulge his presence to any one.<br />
  77. 77. Scene 1<br />The ungrateful person, who was rescued by Matri-poshaka, <br />gives out his whereabouts to the king.<br />Matri-poshaka Jataka, Cave 17<br />
  78. 78. Scene 1<br />Scene 2<br />The captured elephant is being led to the city.<br />
  79. 79. Scene 1<br />Scene 3<br />Scene 2<br />The king supervises feeding the elephant, <br />but the elephant refuses to eat. <br />Before the brooding elephant some food in a large<br />vessel and sugarcane are lying about.<br />
  80. 80. Scene 1<br />Scene 3<br />Scene 4<br />Scene 2<br />The released animal is walking majestically towards the forest.<br />
  81. 81. Scene 1<br />Scene 3<br />Scene 4<br />Scene 5<br />Scene 2<br />The happy reunion.<br />
  82. 82. Later phase (4th century AD onwards)<br />Many panels suggest that <br /> the Ajanta artists used <br /> specific conventions <br /> for separating scenes and acts <br /> from each other <br /> using suggestive punctuation marks.<br />
  83. 83. A gateway <br />may mark the end of an act<br />In a palace scene <br />pillars may separate the scenes<br />Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  84. 84. Painting Technique<br />
  85. 85. Indian wall-paintings are done on dry wall, called <br />fresco secco<br />Indra’s Descent, Cave 17<br />In the West<br />painting is done<br />on a moist wall,<br />called fresco buono<br />Last Supper, da Vinci<br />
  86. 86. It might have taken centuries<br />for the Indian artist <br />to develop the technique of <br />preparing the wall for painting, and <br />also to select suitable pigments <br />with an appropriate binder. <br />The importance of these<br />may be seen from the fact that <br />the Ajanta paintings have withstood<br />the ravages of time <br />with remarkable resilience.<br />
  87. 87. Preparation of Wall<br />We have no clue to the technique <br /> of preparing the wall. <br />But the treatises <br /> which were written later <br /> based on the Ajanta experience <br /> give us an idea. <br />For example, <br /> Vishnu-dharmottara (7th century) <br /> explains the process of preparing <br /> the base plaster and <br /> the finish coat, called ‘vajralepa’.<br />
  88. 88. Preparation of Wall – Base Plaster<br />It consisted of powdered brick, <br /> burnt conches and sand, <br /> mixed with a molasses <br /> and decoction of Phaseolus munga.<br />To this were added<br /> mashed ripe bananas or tree resins and the pulp of bilva fruit.<br />After drying it was ground down and <br /> mixed with molasses and water <br /> until became soft for coating.<br />
  89. 89. Preparation of Wall – Finish Coat<br />Buffaloskin was boiled in water <br /> until it became soft. <br />Sticks were then made of the paste and <br /> dried in the sunshine. <br />When colour was mixed with this,<br /> it made it fast, and<br /> if white mud was mixed with it, <br /> it served as a perfect medium<br /> for coating walls.<br />
  90. 90. Pigments used<br />Most pigments were minerals <br /> available locally:<br /> red ochre, vivid red, yellow ochre, <br /> indigo blue, chalk white, <br /> terra verte and green <br />Only Lapis lazuli was imported<br />Lamp-black was the only non-mineral<br />
  91. 91. Painting Sequence<br />A preliminary sketch in iron ore <br /> was drawn while the surface <br /> was still slightly wet,<br /> followed by an under-painting in<br /> grey or white. <br />On this surface the outline was filled in <br /> with various colours, <br /> proceeding from underpainting<br /> to the appropriate colours <br /> of the subject.<br />
  92. 92. Painting Sequence<br />Finally, when dry, it was finished off <br /> with a dark outline <br /> for final definition and <br /> a burnishing process <br /> to give lustre to the surface.<br />
  93. 93. Painting Tradition<br />
  94. 94. The paintings of Ajanta are <br />the earliest representation <br />of Indian painting tradition <br />available to us. <br />Even the earlier paintings at Ajanta, <br />of the 2nd century BC, <br />demonstrate <br />a sophisticated technique,<br />achievable only after centuries of experimentation. <br />Unfortunately we have no trace of such<br />experimentation. <br />
  95. 95. To get to know this great tradition <br />one may turn to the treatises written <br />based on the Ajanta experiment.<br />
  96. 96. Treatises were codified based <br />on Ajanta experience<br />Brihat-samhita (6th century)<br />Kama-sutra (6th century)<br />Vishnu-dharmottara (7th century)<br />Samarangana-sutra-dhara (11th century)<br />
  97. 97. ‘Six Limbs of Painting’<br />according to<br />Kama-sutra,<br />a well-known treatise on erotics<br /> rUpabhedapramANAni <br /> bhAvalAvaNya yojanam<br /> sAdRShyam vArNikabhangam <br /> iti chitram shaDAngakam<br />rUpa-bheda differentiation <br /> pramANam proportion<br /> bhAva suggestion of mood <br /> lAvaNya-yojanam infusion of grace <br /> sAdRShyam resemblance<br /> vArNika-bhangam application of colour<br />
  98. 98. ‘Eight Limbs of Painting’<br />according to<br />Samarangana-sutra-dhara,<br />a treatise on Architecture<br />bhUmi-bandhana preparation of surface<br /> varnika crayon work<br /> rekha-karma outline work<br /> lakshaNa features of face<br /> varna-karma colouring<br /> vartana-karma relief by shading<br /> lekha-karma correction<br /> dvika-karma final outline<br />
  99. 99. Producing <br />Depth & Relief<br />
  100. 100. From very early times, <br /> Indian artists have been using <br /> a variety of techniques <br /> to produce an illusion <br /> of the third dimension.<br />
  101. 101. Perspective<br />An example of<br />expert rendering<br />in normal<br />perspective<br />A Monastery, <br />Shibi Jataka, Cave 17<br />
  102. 102. Multiple Vision<br />A technique of painting scenes <br />from different angles and merging them, <br />similar to the modern technique <br />called Multiple Vision. <br />
  103. 103. Details <br />of the farthest pavilion<br />would be lost<br />in normal perspective <br />Three separate shots dissolved<br />to show action<br />in all the pavilions<br />
  104. 104. Multiple Vision<br />Lustration & Renunciation, Cave 1<br />
  105. 105. Kshaya vriddhi (‘loss-and-gain’)<br />Fore-shortening<br />A Ceiling Painting, Cave 1<br />
  106. 106. Using Colours<br />Two main techniques were employed <br />animnonnata - flat style<br />nimnonnata - relief by shading<br />
  107. 107. Animnonnata<br />A flat style that uses dark colours <br /> for the subjects in the foreground <br /> against a background <br /> of lighter shades, <br /> or vice versa<br />
  108. 108. Shibi Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  109. 109. Nimnonnata <br /> Vartana<br /> shading techniques<br /> choosing judiciously <br /> tones and colours<br /> Ujjotana<br />a technique of<br /> adding highlights<br />
  110. 110. Vartana<br />A high-relief technique<br />to produce <br />an illusion of <br />the third dimension<br /> There were three main variations<br />
  111. 111. Patraja (‘shading-like-the-lines-of-a-leaf’)<br />Illusion of depth is achieved <br />by drawing lines to follow contours of the body<br />
  112. 112. A Ceiling Painting, Cave 1<br />
  113. 113. Binduja (dot-and-stipple method)<br />Illusion of depth is achieved <br /> by painting dots <br /> with variations in concentration of dots<br />
  114. 114. A Ceiling Painting, Cave 2<br />
  115. 115. Airika (a wash technique)<br />Illusion of depth is achieved<br /> by executing tonal variation <br /> and avoiding hard-lines<br />
  116. 116. Children playing with a Hen, Cave 2<br />
  117. 117. Ujjotana (adding highlights)<br />Highlights in the form of white patches <br /> added on the cheeks, the chin, the nose, etc <br /> to get a three-dimensional effect<br />
  118. 118. A woman in a Palace Scene, Cave 1<br />
  119. 119. Chaya-tapa <br />(‘shade-and-shine’)<br />A technique<br />that produces<br />a chiaroscuro effect<br />Bodhisattva Padmapani, Cave 1<br />
  120. 120. Use of Blue Colour (Lapis Lazuli)<br />In the later period lapis lazuli, <br /> a blue, imported mineral <br /> came to be used as an effective medium <br /> for creating visual depth,<br /> contrasting with <br /> warm red and brown tones<br />
  121. 121. Simhala Avadana, Cave 17<br />
  122. 122. Painting <br />&<br />DanceUnique relation <br />in Indian art<br />
  123. 123. The relationship between <br />painting and dance <br />is a remarkable unique <br />Indian tradition<br />Vishnu-dharmottara (7th century AD)<br />stresses the impossibility of attaining<br />a proper expression of feeling<br />in painting<br />without the knowledge of dance<br />
  124. 124. There are paintings from the earlier <br /> as well as the later periods of Ajanta art <br /> that depict dance scenes. <br />Here is an unaffected dancer <br />from pre-Christian era<br />
  125. 125. Raja with his Retinue, Cave 10<br />
  126. 126. Dancing had become highly stylised <br /> in the later period. <br />A dancer with full complement <br /> of accompanying musicians is from Cave 1.<br />
  127. 127. The vibrant grace of pose and gesture <br />invest her with<br />a swaying, flower-like rhythm and movement.<br />
  128. 128. Tribhanga Pose<br />Tribhanga is a very important feature <br /> in the depiction of the human form.<br />The whole figure is structured <br /> around three main axes.<br />
  129. 129. Tribhanga Pose<br />It gives the body an S-shaped rhythm, <br /> a fluency of line, <br /> which, together with <br /> the appropriate gestures of hands, <br /> conveys a wide range of expressions. <br />
  130. 130. Painting &Sculpture<br />Another unique relation<br />
  131. 131. Most impressive is the way <br /> the two art-forms,<br /> painting and sculpture,<br /> co-exist at Ajanta,<br /> complementing each other.<br />
  132. 132. Cave 6<br />
  133. 133. The sculptures were fully painted, <br />though most of the paint <br />has disappeared.<br />
  134. 134. Entrance, Cave 17<br />
  135. 135. Symbolism<br />in Indian Art<br />
  136. 136. The parts of the body <br />should resemble, and be based on, <br />similes drawn <br />from plant or animal-life. <br />Sensuous lips are <br />ripe and full like the bimba-fruit;<br />fingers likened to lotus-petals. <br />
  137. 137. Here the allusion is not <br />to the form <br /> but <br />to the content, <br />to the mood. <br />It is a suggestion and <br />not realistic likeness.<br />
  138. 138. His divine face has<br /> the shape of an egg<br />Bodhisattva Padma-pani<br />Cave 1<br />
  139. 139. His shoulders are <br />like massive <br />domed head <br />of an elephant, <br />and arms like <br />its tapered trunk<br />Bodhisattva Padma-pani<br />Cave 1<br />
  140. 140. His hands are <br />supple like flower-bud<br />
  141. 141. Other Metaphors<br />simha-kati <br />(body-of-a -lion) <br />gomukha khanda <br />(cow's-head)<br />
  142. 142. pada-pallava(feet-like-leaves)<br />
  143. 143. charana-kamala (feet-like-lotus)<br />
  144. 144. Body Postures<br />(sthana-s)<br />
  145. 145. In Indian tradition <br />the postures of the body were identified and <br />distinct terms were used <br />to cover the entire range<br />rijva-gata<br />(Strict profile)<br />parshva-gata<br />(Frontal)<br />to<br />
  146. 146. It is possible <br /> that this was <br /> greatly influenced <br /> by the contemporary <br /> dance traditions. <br />
  147. 147. A woman listening <br />to a sermon is <br />an excellent study<br />Shankha-pala Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  148. 148. The three women are <br />in different postures; <br />another example <br />of elegant poses<br />Mural Painting, Cave 17<br />
  149. 149. This is particularly so<br /> with the depiction<br />of women shown<br />in congregation<br />Chempayya Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  150. 150. Draughtmanship<br />
  151. 151. Drawings with <br />a free flowing <br />sweep of the brush<br />to depict oval faces, <br />arched eyebrows,<br />aquiline noses, and<br />fine sensitive lips<br />are aplenty on the walls <br />of Ajanta<br />
  152. 152. Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  153. 153. A relaxed monkey,<br />consisting <br />basically of <br />one masterly<br /> sweep of brush<br />starting <br />beneath chin<br />and <br />forming a curve<br />outlining head<br />and spine<br />and terminating<br />beneath knee-cap<br />Shad-danta Jataka, Cave 17<br />
  154. 154. Portrayal of Women<br />Portrayal of Women<br />
  155. 155. Women of Ajanta are <br />the art connoisseur’s delight.<br />The Ajanta artist has painted <br />the whole range of <br />women characters: <br />ladies of court and their maids, <br />dancers,<br />common women <br />in their house-hold chores<br />
  156. 156. The woman <br />was the theme <br />that gave full scope <br />for expression <br />of creative genius <br />for the Ajanta artist. <br />
  157. 157. The artist had succeeded <br />in reproducing<br />the soft roundness of her breasts, <br />the curves of her hips,<br />the turn of her head, <br />the gestures of her hands and<br />the slanting glance of her eyes.<br />
  158. 158. ‘Clothed in Nakedness’<br />It is intriguing that<br />most of Ajanta heroines<br />are depicted naked, <br />or in near nudity, <br />while all the others <br />in the same scene<br />are fully clothed<br />
  159. 159. ‘Clothed in Nakedness’<br />Janapada-kalyani<br />Conversion of Nanda, Cave 1<br />
  160. 160. ‘Clothed in Nakedness’<br />Queen Shivali<br />Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  161. 161. ‘Clothed in Nakedness’<br />Maya-devi, Siddharta’s Mother<br />Nativity of the Buddha, Cave 2<br />
  162. 162. ‘Clothed in Nakedness’<br />Nanda’s wife,<br />the central figure,<br />is naked<br />whereas all<br />the maids are<br />fully clothed.<br />The Dying Princess<br />Conversion of Nanda, <br />Cave 16<br />
  163. 163. ‘Black is Beautiful’<br />Many heroines of Ajanta <br />are dark complexioned. <br />Perhaps contemporary taste <br />included black <br />as an attractive complexion<br />for skin. <br />
  164. 164. ‘Black is Beautiful’<br />Consort of Padma-pani<br />Padma-pani Panel, Cave 1<br />
  165. 165. ‘Black is Beautiful’<br />The Dying Princess<br />Conversion of Nanda, Cave 16<br />
  166. 166. ‘Black is Beautiful’<br />Black Apsaras<br />Adoration of the Buddha Panel<br />Cave 17<br />
  167. 167. ‘Black is Beautiful’<br />Shakti Pandara, Avalokitesvara Panel, Cave 1<br />
  168. 168. Common People<br />A Village Woman <br />attending Coronation<br />Vishvantara Jataka, Cave 17<br />
  169. 169. Common People<br />Woman braiding Hair<br />Vishvantara Jataka, Cave 17<br />
  170. 170. We wonder why very sensuous women <br />were painted at all <br />in these religious caves<br />
  171. 171. Depiction of Movement<br />
  172. 172. Vishnu-dharmottara says:<br />"He, who paints waves,<br />flames, smoke, … <br />according to <br />the movement of the wind, <br />is a great painter." <br />Ajanta painters took <br />great pleasure <br />in composing scenes<br />involving movement <br />with great zest.<br />
  173. 173. In the Scene when Indra and <br /> His entourage <br /> descent to worship <br /> the Buddha. <br /> the floating clouds, <br /> the swaying foliage and <br /> apsaras and gandharvas <br /> flying swiftly through the air, <br /> produce a fantastic movement<br />
  174. 174. Indra’s Descent, Cave 17<br />
  175. 175. A mad elephant was let loose<br />on the Compassionate One<br />by his envious half-brother. <br />Elephant on the rampage<br /> is shown in great dynamism<br />
  176. 176. Subjugation of Nalagiri, Cave 17<br />
  177. 177. This charging bull is<br />another example in depicting movement<br />A Ceiling Painting, Cave 1<br />
  178. 178. Fighting Bulls, A painting on a pillar, Cave 1<br />
  179. 179. Humour<br />
  180. 180. The royal household is <br />immersed in a religious <br />discourse by Bodhisattva. <br />Here is shown a servant <br />stealing fruits.<br />And a servant-maid has <br />noticed the mischief.<br />
  181. 181. Attendant<br />Champeyya Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  182. 182. On the pedestal of Goddess Hariti <br />is shown a class-room.<br />While the students in the front rows <br />are attentive to the teacher, <br />the backbenchers are enjoying <br />themselves by chasing a ram! <br />Hariti shrine, Cave 2<br />
  183. 183. Musical Heritage<br />
  184. 184. Musical Heritage<br />In Ajanta, we can study the development <br /> of our musical heritage. <br />We can see both the continuity and change <br /> over the period.<br />A variety of musical instruments <br /> have been depicted.<br />
  185. 185. Musical Heritage<br />Queen Shivali arranges <br />A programme of dance<br />with a full compliment <br />of accompanying musicians <br />in order to draw the king <br />towards worldly pleasures<br />
  186. 186. Flute<br />Cymbals<br />Flute<br />Vertical<br />Drum<br />Small Drum<br />Dancer with Musicians, Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  187. 187. Musical Heritage<br />The abdicated king is<br />given a royal send off<br />with musician forming<br />part of the procession<br />
  188. 188. Conch<br />Flute<br />Mridangam<br />King abdicating, Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  189. 189. Musical Heritage<br />Kinnara playing Kachchapa Vina, Padmapani Panel, Cave 1<br />
  190. 190. Musical Heritage<br />Musicians form the entourage<br />When Indra descends <br />To worship the Buddha<br />
  191. 191. Cymbal<br />Cymbal<br />Flute<br />Drum<br />Descent of Indra, Cave 17<br />
  192. 192. Contemporary Fashion<br />
  193. 193. Ajanta is <br />treasure-house <br />to study <br />contemporary fashion <br />in textiles, <br />jewellery, etc.<br />
  194. 194. Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />The girl sports an upper-garment <br />with rows of geese printed on it<br />
  195. 195. The glorious tradition of <br />ikkat, <br />a resist-dye method,<br />where yarn is dyed <br />to produce a design, <br /> leading to today’s <br />Patola and Pochampalli,<br /> was initiated here.<br />Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  196. 196. The tailored dress of dancer<br />a proof of high degree<br />of sophistication in<br />both fabric design and<br />dress-making<br />Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  197. 197. Sophisticated ornaments <br />can be seen<br />on the dancer<br />Arsi, Thumb-ring set<br />with a Miniature Mirror<br />Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  198. 198. Karna-pushpam, <br />Ear-rings of elaborate Design<br />
  199. 199. Sharashri, <br />Head-dress of Gold-beads <br />and Pearls<br />
  200. 200. Hairdress<br />
  201. 201. Ceiling Paintings<br />
  202. 202. For reasons unknown, <br /> the Ajanta artist did not paint <br /> religious themes on the ceilings. <br /> But expert workmanship is evident. <br />These drawings have taken <br /> the texture of a carpet, <br /> brilliantly woven, <br /> captivating <br /> the eyes and filling the senses. <br />
  203. 203. Flowers<br />Animals/Birds<br />Geometrical<br />In lighter vein<br />
  204. 204. One of the themes is <br />the huge concentric circle <br />enclosed in a square, <br />with number of flowery bands within it.<br />
  205. 205. Cave 2<br />
  206. 206. Ceiling Painting<br />Hariti shrine, Cave 2<br />
  207. 207. Main hall, Cave 17<br />
  208. 208. Another popular theme <br />consists of a number of <br />rectangular panels <br />filled with decorative motifs <br />framed by smaller rectangles <br />with representations <br />of fruit and floral forms.<br />
  209. 209.
  210. 210.
  211. 211. Ceiling Paintings<br />Animals & Birds<br />
  212. 212. Reclining Bulls<br />Cave 17<br />
  213. 213. Cave 1<br />
  214. 214. Cave 1<br />
  215. 215. Ceiling Paintings<br />In Lighter Vein<br />
  216. 216. Cave 1<br />Cave 2<br />
  217. 217. The most intriguing and <br />least expected <br />in a religious shrine are <br />the scenes depicting <br />a king in his harem<br />and friends enjoying <br />each other's company<br />with wine!<br />
  218. 218. Persian Harem, Cave 2<br />
  219. 219. Friends drinking, Cave 2<br />
  220. 220. Phases of <br />Ajanta Art<br />
  221. 221. In most forms of art <br />one may discern <br />a gradual and <br />natural progression.<br />
  222. 222. A lack of experience<br />in making and employing tools,<br />in narration, etc, <br />is generally the beginning.<br />This is often called archaic style.<br />
  223. 223. Then follows a mature phase, <br />a phase of quiet dignity <br />without excesses;<br />and the artists prefer <br />studied dignity and <br />what they call 'good taste'.<br />This is the classical phase<br />
  224. 224. Repetition of ideas, <br />called mannerism<br />is perhaps the next stage <br />to be followed <br />by over-ornamentation,<br />a style known as baroque.<br />
  225. 225. It is then the decline<br />
  226. 226. By sheer chance, the development of style <br />from the beginning to its final decline<br />can be witnessed <br />within the physical limits of Ajanta.<br />In this respect Ajanta has no parallel.<br />
  227. 227. Pre-Classical Period (2nd-1st Centuries BC)<br />Classical Period (4th-5th Centuries AD)<br />Period of Mannerism (5th-6th Centuries AD)<br />Baroque Period (Mid-6th Century AD)<br />Period of Decline (End-6th Century AD)<br />
  228. 228. Phases of Ajanta ArtPre-classical Period <br />(2nd-1st centuries BC)<br />
  229. 229. Pre-classical Period<br />The earliest paintings of Ajanta <br />of the 2nd-1st century BC <br />cannot be classified as archaic.<br />These paintings present <br />lively men and animals. <br />They belong to<br />the transitional period <br />that was to carry them on to <br />the classical phase. <br />
  230. 230. Pre-classical Period<br />Shown here is a king with his retinue <br />going towards a temple.<br />
  231. 231. The composition is characterised by restricted use of colours, mostly brown in various tones. <br />Most characters are shown in the three-fourth profile, a monotony avoided in the later periods.<br />Raja with Retinue, Cave 10<br />
  232. 232. Pre-classical Period<br />Shad-danta Jataka, Cave 10<br />Only a line sketch of this grand composition, <br />belonging to the same period is available<br />to appreciate the lost glory.<br />
  233. 233. Phases of Ajanta Art<br />Classical Period (4th-5th centuries AD)<br />
  234. 234. Classical Period<br />This style means perfect mastery <br />of the subject.<br />Everything is idealised, <br />realism is only for creating<br />things of beauty and perfection. <br />There is a dignity and nobility, <br />and allows<br />no exaggeration, no excess, <br />no overstatement and <br />no dramatisation.<br />
  235. 235. Classical Period<br />Calm, unobtrusive<br />modelling and the gentle,<br />swaying movement<br />of the characters<br />bear the stamp<br />of the classical period.<br />A wash technique,<br />called airika creating<br /> an illusion of depth<br /> is employed here<br />Votaries with offerings, Cave 2<br />
  236. 236. The Prince is <br />informing his wife of his impending exile<br />and is offering wine<br />to steady her.<br />
  237. 237. The posture of <br />the couple and<br />the sombre colours,<br />make the painful scene<br />striking.<br />Belonging to <br />the classical period, <br />the scene brings out <br />the emotional <br />atmosphere <br />effectively. <br />Visvantara Jataka, Cave 17<br />
  238. 238. Phases of Ajanta Art<br />Period of Mannerism (5th-6th centuries AD)<br />
  239. 239. Period of Mannerism<br />A departure from classicism can be seen <br />in monotony in the sitting posture and <br />in the overcrowding.<br />Vidhura-pandita Jataka, Cave 2<br />
  240. 240. Phases of Ajanta Art<br />Baroque Period (Mid-6th century AD)<br />
  241. 241. Baroque Period<br />Baroque is a style of <br /> over-ornamentation and exaggeration.<br />Action takes place in a maze of pillars <br /> in royal pavilions.<br />The eye-slits are stretched out of proportion.<br />Men look effeminate and <br /> women exaggeratedly feminine. <br />Both men and women wear <br /> excessive ornaments.<br />
  242. 242. Baroque Period<br />The Bodhisattva is <br />heavily bejewlled and <br />His eyes elongated <br />out of proportion. <br />Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Cave 1<br />
  243. 243. Baroque Period<br />Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1<br />
  244. 244. Phases of Ajanta Art<br />Period of Decline (End-6th century AD)<br />
  245. 245. Period of Decline<br /> Artistic standards <br />were in the decline <br />from the end of the 6th century.<br />Mercifully this phase did not last long, <br />for the Ajanta caves were soon <br />abandoned forever, <br />for reasons unknown.<br />
  246. 246. Period of Decline<br />The poses are now <br />exaggerated <br />with heavy heads, <br />elongated eyes, <br />thin legs, <br />superfluous hand <br />gestures, etc.<br />The composition <br />is too crowded. <br />The execution <br />becomes careless<br />
  247. 247. Women in a Palace Scene, Cave 1<br />
  248. 248. Period of Decline<br />The figures of <br />the Buddhas came <br />to be enclosed <br />in separate cubicles<br />Two Buddhas, Cave 10<br />
  249. 249. Period of Decline<br />This presentation <br />of figures of the Buddhas, <br />lacks refinement and finish.<br />Miracle at Shravasti, Cave 2<br />
  250. 250. Period of Decline<br />In place of shapely <br />palms and <br />Sensitive fingers,<br />they are stiff and <br />simplified.<br />The face lacks expression.<br />An Unidentified Scene, Cave 1<br />
  251. 251. Inspirationat Home<br />
  252. 252. The paintings of Ajanta, <br />in style, in type and in technique, <br />exerted their influence <br />on Indian art <br />for centuries to follow.<br />The paintings in the Bagh caves <br />in Ellora, in Sittannavasal, <br />are perpetuation of the refinement <br />of the great murals <br />of the Ajanta caves.<br />
  253. 253. Sittannavasal<br />In Tamilnadu<br />Bagh <br />in Madhya Pradesh<br />
  254. 254. Inspiration Abroad<br />
  255. 255. With the spread of Buddhism to Indian Asia<br /> Buddhist mural decoration <br /> initiated at Ajanta <br /> diffused into these parts.<br />The paintings of Sigiriya in Srilanka, <br /> of Bamiyan, of Turfan in China and <br /> of Horyu Kondo in Japan<br /> are regional variation of <br /> the Ajanta idiom <br />
  256. 256. Sigiriya, Srilanka<br />Turfan, China<br />
  257. 257. The end of the Ajanta epoch<br />The creative period of Ajanta ended<br />as mysteriously as it had begun.<br />Some of the unfinished caves,<br />which were quite obviously<br />abandoned unexpectedly,<br />show that the emigration took place<br />over a comparatively short span of time.<br />
  258. 258. Ananda Coomaraswamy says ..<br />The frescoes of Ajanta preserve an infinitely precious record of the golden age of Indian painting. <br />
  259. 259. This is the picture of a halcyon age, where renunciation and enjoyment are perfectly attuned, an art at once of utmost intimacy and reserve.<br />
  260. 260. Every gesture springs in godlike fashion directly from the natural dispositions of the mind ……….<br />
  261. 261. Thank you….<br />
  262. 262. Contact me through: sswami99@gmail.com<br />Find my details at: www.pudukkottai.org/swaminathan<br />S. Swaminathan<br />
  263. 263. Conceived and presented by<br />S. Swaminathan<br />(sswami99@gmail.com)<br />www.pudukkottai.org/swaminathan<br />with assistance from<br />R. Murugapandian & M. V. Kiran <br />Feb, 2005<br />

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