Ajanta Paintings- Appreciation of Mahajanaka Jataka Composition


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Jataks stories are the common themes in Ajanta paintings. Mahajanak Jataka painted in Cave One is one of the important compositions.
A Presentation byf Prof. Subramanian Swaminathan on the paintings of Ajanta.

Published in: Education, Spiritual
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Ajanta Paintings- Appreciation of Mahajanaka Jataka Composition

  1. 1. Paintings of Ajanta Caves(2nd century BC to 6th century AD)Appreciation ofMahajanaka JatakacompositionbyS. Swaminathan(sswami99@gmail.com)<br />
  2. 2. Presented byS. Swaminathan<br />
  3. 3. Mahajanaka Jataka is <br />an important composition in Cave 1<br />belonging <br />to the Baroque period (6th century AD).<br />Due to fortunate survival <br />of most of the composition<br />the narration is taken <br />for a detailed discussion<br />
  4. 4. The Story<br />Bodhi-sattva born Mahaajanaka<br /> whose father was banished<br /> from his kingdom<br /> by his brother, Pola-janaka.<br />Mahaa-janaka went all over the world<br /> as a merchant and<br /> amassed enough wealth<br /> to help him regain<br /> his father's kingdom<br />
  5. 5. The Story<br />Pola-janaka died survived<br /> by his most beautiful<br /> and haughty daughter, Shivaali<br />Three almost impossible conditions<br /> were set to marry her.<br />Mahaa-janaka fulfilled all three<br /> and married Shivaali<br />
  6. 6. The Story<br />However, the pomp and luxuries of<br /> the palace life was not to his liking.<br />In spite of the pleadings from his queen,<br /> Mahaa-janaka finally<br /> renounced the world and<br /> went to the Himalayas<br /> to meditate upon the Truth<br />Narration in this cave starts after<br />the marriage of Mahaa-janka <br />
  7. 7. Importance of the Panel<br />A major portion has survived<br />Important from art history point of view<br />Composition shows the beginning of<br /> deterioration from<br /> the classical elegance<br /> to baroque ostentation<br />
  8. 8. Importance of the Panel<br />Offers scope for a study of<br /> art style and<br /> method of narration of this period<br />Provides a wealth of information<br /> Regarding<br /> jewellery,<br /> textile and dress,<br /> musical instruments,<br /> architecture, etc<br />
  9. 9. Location of Composition<br />Shrine<br />Scenes from this jaataka are painted on the left wall of the main hall<br />Entrance<br />To Cave 1<br />
  10. 10. Composition<br />Story is in four acts:<br />1. The king in dilemma<br />2. He seeks advice from an ascetic<br />3. He abdicates<br />4. He leaves the palace<br />
  11. 11. Composition<br />Act 1<br />King in dilemma<br />Act 2<br />King goes to seek advice<br />Act 3<br />King abdicates<br />Act 4<br />King leaves palace<br />Ship wreck<br />(An earlier scene)<br />
  12. 12. Composition<br />Act 1<br />King in dilemma<br />Act 2<br />King goes to seek advice<br />Ship wreck<br />(An earlier scene)<br />Act 3<br />King abdicates<br />Act 4<br />King leaves palace<br />
  13. 13. Act OneMahaa-janaka in Dilemma<br />The newly wed king is dissatisfied<br /> with the pompous life<br />The queen attempts to captivate<br /> him with all her charm<br />The king goes out to seek advice<br /> from an ascetic<br />
  14. 14. Scene 1: Queen captivating<br />Scene 2: Dancer with musicians<br />
  15. 15. The Scene<br />
  16. 16. Mahaa-janaka in Dilemma<br />The bejewelled king<br />does not look at Shivali,<br />but has a wild and<br />vacant look.<br />His right hand<br />suggests despair.<br />
  17. 17. Queen captivating<br />Queen, dressed in<br />‘nakedness', leans<br />against the king.<br />Every line of her figure<br />expresses her attitude of<br />passionate yielding<br />
  18. 18. The Court<br />The maids are looking at<br />the couple. Their looks<br />invite the attention the<br />pathetic king<br />Variation in poses and<br />the varieties of textiles<br />are worth noting<br />A dwarf in attendance<br />sitting on the ground<br />
  19. 19. Musicians accompanying the Dancer <br />The dancer is<br />supported by<br />musicians playing<br />flute, cymbals,<br />drums and<br />a stringed<br />instrument<br />
  20. 20. Dancing Scene<br />The musicians,<br />like the dancer,<br />show great<br />dynamism and<br />movement<br />Characters shown<br />in variety of body<br />postures<br />
  21. 21. The dancer strikes a graceful pose, her hands a mudra.<br />She wears a long jacket and<br />A close-fitting blouse.<br />Her striped skirt is loose and long.<br />Her ring set with a small mirror, the ear-rings of elaborate design<br />Her head-dress of strings of gold beads or pearls.<br />Her plaits entwined with flowers.<br />The Dancer<br />
  22. 22. The palatial surroundings and decorations,<br />accompaniment of a host of musical instruments,<br />The Scene<br />fantastic garments and elaborate ornaments<br />all successfully contributed to<br />a spectacular scene<br />
  23. 23. Act TwoKings seeks Advice<br />The queen was not successful<br /> in her attempt <br /> in holding back the king<br />Mahaa-janaka's mental turmoil<br /> has not ceased<br />He goes to Himavali Hills<br /> to seek advice from an ascetic<br />
  24. 24. The Scene<br />Ascetic<br />King listening<br />King on an<br />Elephant<br />
  25. 25. Mahaa-janaka goes out<br />Mahaa-janaka goes out through<br />the Palace-gate on an Elephant<br />
  26. 26. Mahaa-janaka meets an Ascetic<br />The ascetic is delivering<br />a sermon. The king<br />listens in deep reverence<br />A pair of deer is seen with<br />faces tilted up,<br />as if in rapt attention.<br />
  27. 27. The King listens tothe Sermon<br />Casting off most ornaments,<br />the king listens to the sermon<br />in great humility and<br />utter surrender,<br />his hands folded in prayer.<br />
  28. 28. Act ThreeMahaa-janaka announces his Decision<br />The enlightened king announces<br /> his decision to abdicate<br />The queen listens stoically<br />while the royal household<br /> is perplexed<br />
  29. 29. The Scene<br />
  30. 30. Queen Mother admonishes Shivali<br />Queen-mother admonishes<br /> the queen for letting<br /> the king meet the ascetic<br />
  31. 31. Mahaa-janka announces his Decision<br />The king, serene and<br />composed, announces<br />his decision to renounce<br />
  32. 32. Shivali receives the News<br />The queen,<br />better clad and composed,<br />receives<br />the heart-breaking news<br />
  33. 33. Bewildered Royal Household<br />All are in great animation.<br />One girl stunned<br /> with her eyebrows drawn<br /> and eyes dilated.<br />Another is musing with a<br /> finger on her cheek<br />Exquisite portrayal of women in varieties of postures <br />
  34. 34. Act FourMahaa-janaka abdicates<br />Finally, the king leaves the country<br /> to meditate on the dharma<br />
  35. 35. Mahaa-janaka Departs<br />King leaves in full<br />regal splendour,<br />led by a procession<br />of his loyal subjects<br />
  36. 36. RoyalMusicians<br />A flautist, a conch-blower, a cymbal player<br />and a mridangist lead the procession<br />
  37. 37. Women watching the Procession<br />Geese-motif of<br />the dress worn by<br />a woman is noteworthy<br />An example of<br />expert draughtsmanship<br />and excellent colouring<br />
  38. 38. Portrayal of Characters<br />This mural affords excellent scope<br /> for studying of portrayal of characters<br />Continuity in dress and physical features of characters maintained<br />while bringing out contrast in<br /> the expressions of characters<br />
  39. 39. Mahajanaka and Shivali<br />The king depicted three times<br /> and the queen twice<br />Though the location the same,<br /> the emotional atmosphere<br /> different<br />
  40. 40. Mahajanaka<br />In dilemma<br />Listening to Sermon<br />Abdicating<br />
  41. 41. In Dilemma<br />The newly-wed king<br /> in regal splendour<br /> - two rows of necklaces<br /> sparkling with diamonds<br /> and pearls, and<br /> pearl-studded sacred-thread<br />But he has<br />a vacant look<br />reflecting<br />his mental conflict<br />and his hands<br />showing his inner pain<br />
  42. 42. Listens to Sermon<br />When he met the ascetic the elaborate necklace replaced with<br />a less ostentatious one<br />Now his deportment of humility and utter surrender,<br />his hands folded in prayer.<br />
  43. 43. Abdicating<br />He had cast off<br /> every-thing including<br /> the sacred-thread, excepting<br /> the close fitting beads.<br />His visage is serene,<br /> but of determination.<br />His hands compose preaching-attitude<br /> showing<br /> he has now found<br /> the path.<br />
  44. 44. Shivali<br />Captivating<br />Hearing the News<br />
  45. 45. Captivating<br />‘Dressed in nakedness’<br /> she is determined<br /> to win over<br /> her husband using<br /> all her charm.<br />
  46. 46. Receiving the News<br />She is now better-draped, sitting before the king,<br />fully composed and ready<br />to receive<br />the heart-breaking news.<br />
  47. 47. Musicians andMusical Instruments<br />Ajanta offers Scope for studying<br /> Indian Musical Heritage<br />A Variety of musical Instruments<br /> depicted from<br /> 2nd Century BC to 6th Century AD<br />Both Continuity and Change<br /> over the Ages can be studied<br />
  48. 48. Dancer is accompaniedby musicians playing<br />cymbals and flutes<br /> common even today,<br />the bell-shaped drum,<br /> closer to today’s ‘udukku’<br /> used in folk music,<br />standing drum and<br /> strinag instrument,<br /> both obsolete.<br />
  49. 49. In the scene of ‘the king abdicating’ the musicians shown playing<br />conch-shell,<br />used even today<br />heralding arrival of<br />gods or dignitaries,<br />mridangam<br />(or pakhawaj) and<br />flutes in use today<br />
  50. 50. Musicians are shown<br />in Padmapani<br />panel, Cave 1<br />in ‘Descent<br />of Indra,<br />Cave 17<br />
  51. 51. Dancers and Dancing<br />Dancers have been portrayed<br /> both in the pre-christian era<br /> paintings and in the later scenes<br />Change over this period and<br /> continuity till date can be studied<br />
  52. 52. Dancing in the Hinayana Period<br />Scanty clothing and<br />ornaments restricted to<br />conch-shell bangles<br />are stamp of<br />unaffected spontaneity<br />of the pre-christian era<br />painting<br />
  53. 53. Dancingin the Mahayana Period<br />Dancing is now more stylised.<br />Beautifully designed garments,<br />the glittering trinkets and<br />bewildering coiffure <br />of the dancer<br />Dancing pose, gestures,<br />shape of eyes and<br />the general atmosphere <br />epitomise an advanced<br />phase of dancing<br />
  54. 54. Drawing in Perspective<br />Drawing in perspective gives<br /> an illusion of distance.<br />In true perspective<br /> the farther objects look small<br />
  55. 55. True Perspective<br />The Monastery in Cave 17<br />is in true Perspective<br />
  56. 56. Reverse Perspective<br />The building<br />in front of which<br />the dancer is performing is drawn<br />in the reverse perspective<br />
  57. 57. Producing Relief through Colouring<br />Ajanta artists have used<br /> various techniques<br /> for producing depth and relief<br /> through skilful use of colours<br />Vartana is a method of shading<br />Ujjotanais adding ‘high-lights’<br />Blue colourfor the background<br />
  58. 58. On shoulder, arms<br />and hands<br />airka, a wash technique,<br />one of vartana methods,<br />is used.<br />
  59. 59. On the forehead,<br />cheeks and nose,<br />to show<br />elevation of form,<br />Ujjotana method<br />of applying white patches<br />can be seen<br />
  60. 60. Blue colour used,<br />especially for background,<br />to create an illusion of depth<br />by contrasting with<br />the warm red<br />and brown colours<br />
  61. 61. Draughtmanship<br />The perfection of<br /> painting technique is displayed<br />in the extraordinary<br /> breadth and confidence of<br />draughtsmanship<br />- the varying thickness of line drawn<br /> with a free flowing sweep<br /> of the brush to depict<br />oval faces, arched eyebrows,<br /> aquiline noses, and<br /> sensitive lips<br />
  62. 62. Draughtmanship<br />
  63. 63. A relaxed monkey,<br />consisting basically of<br />one masterly<br /> sweep of brush<br />starting beneath chin<br />and forming a curve<br />outlining head<br />and spine<br />and terminating<br />beneath knee-cap<br />Shad-danta Jataka, Cave 17<br />
  64. 64. Body Postures (Sthaana-s)<br />In all the scenes depicted in this narration,<br /> every one of the women is shown<br /> in different positions<br />from the rijvagata (frontal)<br />to parshvagata (strict profile)<br /> to anriju(back view)<br />
  65. 65. Dancing Girlwith Musicians<br />
  66. 66. DisturbedRoyalHousehold<br />
  67. 67. Demarcation of Scenes and Acts<br />The ajanta artists followed<br /> certain conventions in<br /> composing the narration<br />A gate is often placed to herald<br /> the beginning of an act<br />Within an act pillars may<br /> separate the scenes<br />
  68. 68. Gate separating Acts<br />Act 1<br />King in Dilemma<br />Act 2<br />King goes to seek advice<br />Act 3<br />King abdicates<br />Act 4<br />King leaves Palace<br />Ship Wreck<br />(An earlier Scene)<br />
  69. 69. Pillars<br />separating<br />Scenes<br />King inDilemma<br />Scene 1<br />King in Dilemma<br />Scene 2<br />Dancer with Musicians<br />
  70. 70. Contemporary fashion<br />Ajanta is a treasure house to study<br /> the contemporary fashion<br /> in textiles, jewellery, etc<br />There are no ‘monotonous’<br /> repetitions in the dress <br />
  71. 71. Textiles<br />The girl sports<br />upper-garment<br />with geese<br />printed on it<br />- a fashion<br />referred to in<br />contemporary<br />literature<br />
  72. 72. 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 />
  73. 73. Textiles<br />The tailored dress of dancer<br />a proof of high degree of<br />sophistication in<br />both<br />fabric design and dress-making<br />
  74. 74. Jewellery<br />Arsi,<br />Thumb-ring set<br />with a Miniature<br />Mirror<br />Karna-pushpam,<br />Ear-rings of<br />elaborate Design<br />Sharashri,<br />Head-dress of<br />Gold-beads<br />and Pearls<br />
  75. 75.
  76. 76. Hairdress<br />A variety of hair-do<br />seen in Ajanta<br />
  77. 77.
  78. 78. This is only a drop of the Ajanta ocean<br />
  79. 79. The narration of<br />Simhala Avadhana<br />and<br />Vishvantara Jataka<br />both in Cave 17<br />belong to the classical period<br />and are of compositions <br />of unsurpassing beauty<br />
  80. 80. Sutasoma Jataka in Cave 17<br />is an extensive composition<br />of many features<br />
  81. 81. The Mara’s Episode <br />and Champeyya Jaataka,<br />both in Cave 1, <br />are of compact design<br />worth studying <br />
  82. 82. It is not surprising that Ajanta<br />was the source of inspiration<br />for paintings not only of<br />the Indian subontinant,<br />but of almost entire Asia<br />AJANTA IS WORTH A VISIT<br />
  83. 83. Thank you<br />S. Swaminathan<br />