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Ajanta Paintings

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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. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ajanta Paintings


1
Paintings of Ajanta Caves(2nd century BC to
6th century AD)
S. Swaminathan (sswami99_at_gmail.com)
2
Introduction
3
Ajanta is a great art treasure.
They contain some exquisite sculptures, and
more importantly, paintings of unrivalled
beauty.
Its caves are a fine example of rock-cut
architecture.
4
from early phase of the pre-Christian era,
In these caves can be seen the development of Art
reaching classical perfection,
falling off into mannerism and then to baroque
ornamentation
and, finally, lapsing into artistic decline
5
Ajanta is a storehouse of information about the
period
costumes,
textile design,
Jewellery,
musical heritage,
social order,
court etiquette,
ideas of beauty and morality,
customs and
its sense of wit.
6
The paintings tell us about the technical
aspects of their art
preparation of the ground,
execution of the painting itself,
with sense of perspective, space division,
colour-overlay,
preparation of the pigments,
harnessing of the visual and tactile senses,
pacing of the narrative.
7
The spirit of Ajanta influenced the religious art
of the whole of Asia
The Ajanta paintings are the earliest surviving
paintings of India, religious or secular
8
The Indian artist, while depicting Buddhist
themes, did not feel the need to make a
translation from foreign to familiar terms
In fact, the Ajanta painting tradition is truly
an indigenous religious art tradition.
The Buddha and His disciples were Indians.
9
Location of Ajanta
10
The caves of Ajanta are situated in the district
of Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra.
Ajanta is about 100 km from Aurangabad and
about 60 km from Jalgaon.
An extended stay at Aurangabad would be
rewarding, as the equally important
monuments of Ellora are only about 30 km
away.
11
The possible explanation for the monastic
establishment at Ajanta is its proximity to the
ancient trade routes.
12
It is about 100 km from Aurangabad
13
Mumbai
14
Period of Excavation
15
First Phase Hinayana period (2nd - 1st centuries
BC)
The earliest caves (Nos. 8, 9, 10, 13
15A) were excavated during the rule of the
Satavahana-s, who had their capital at
Pratishthana. During their rule there was
brisk trade and commerce within the land and
with the Mediterranean world, which brought
in enormous riches.
16
Second Phase Mahayana period (4th 6th centuries
AD)
The second phase was of greater artistic
activity at Ajanta and the remaining caves were
excavated during the rule of the Vakataka and
the Chalukya dynasties from the 4th to the 6th
centuries AD.
17
Patronage
18
The rulers, the Satavahana-s, the Vakataka-s
and the Chalukya-s, were themselves Hindus,
but allowed Buddhism to flourish in their
territory. But there was no direct royal help
during almost the entire period. But the rich
mercantile community, organising itself into
guilds, had provided the requisite patronage.
19
The entire Ajanta chapter is a tribute to the
religious tolerance of the Hindu rulers.
20
Re-discovery
21
The precious caves remained abandoned till
1817 when they were discovered by a company
of British soldiers. Soon pioneer archaeologists
were attracted to the caves that were lost to
civilization for more than 1200 years.
22
James Burgess and William Gill made copies of
some of the paintings and exhibited in London in
1866. Unfortunately almost all of these perished
in a disastrous fire. Later some copies were
made by Griffiths and Lady Herringham, and
published in 1896 and 1915. Under the patronage
of the Nizam, the then ruler of Hyderabad,
Yazdani edited and published two volumes on the
paintings in 1933.
23
Rahula and Yashodhara meet the Buddha, Cave 17
Reproduction by Herringham
Mural
24
Layout of the Caves
25
The caves, lying deep inside the Sahyadri
Hills, are hollowed out on the deep face of a
horseshoe-shaped hillside with the Waghora
river flowing through it.
26
Layout
17
16
19
The caves are aligned in a horseshoe
form.
10
9
There are a total of 29 caves.
23
The general arrangement was not pre-planned,
as they sprang up sporadically in different
periods.
6
The caves are numbered not on the basis of
period of excavation, but on their physical
location.
27
2
1
27
Views of the Caves
28
Here are some enchanting views of the caves
29
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30
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31
Undoubtedly suited for uninterrupted meditation
and contemplation
32
A narrow pathway connects the caves to go on a
pilgrimage to the highest achievement of Indian
Buddhist art
33
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34
Rock-cut Architecture
35
The caves of Ajanta offer an instructive field
for the study of the evolution of rock-cut
architecture. It is unique in the sense that it
can be viewed as an enterprise of a
sculptor. The cave architecture, at Ajanta and
elsewhere, betrays the strong influence of
wooden construction.
36
The team was probably drawn from the profession
of carpenters, with goldsmiths and
ivory-carvers joining hands with the sculptors.
37
The evolution of rock architecture took place
during two periods the Hinayana period of
the pre-Christian era and the later Mahayana
period.
38
Hinayana period (2nd - 1st centuries BC)
During the first phase the sculptural
activity was limited.
39
Mahayana period (4th century onwards)
In the second phase sculptural compositions
filled the facade, the shrines, etc. Side by
side with the excavation of new caves the
existing Hinayana caves were suitably modified.
40
Mahayana period facade embellished
41
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42
The caves of Ajanta are divided into
Chaitya-s Temples Vihara-s - Monasteries
43
Chaitya-Facade
The entrance has a prominent arched window to
light the interior
Relief sculptures added in Mahayana period
44
Chaitya - Interior
Interior consists of a long vaulted nave with a
pillared aisle on either side
Stupa
Far end is semicircular with a stupa at its
centre
Pillared aisle
Vaulted nave
45
Vihara - Plan
Shrine
Cells
It has a congregation hall
Hall
with cells for the monks on the inner sides
Later a shrine was excavated at the far end
Entrance
46
Vihara - Interior
On the left to the entrance is the famous
painting of Padmapani
A colossal statue of the Buddha is seen in the
sanctum
47
Vihara - Interior
Cave 2
48
Sculpture
49
During the first phase, the Buddha was not
shown in the human form, but only through
symbols, such as, the Wheel, the Bodhi Tree
and the Feet of the Buddha.
But during the Mahayana period sculptures and
paintings of the Buddha and the
Bodhi-sattva-s, were added.
50
The sculpture of Ajanta belongs to the great
art-tradition of contemporary India.
Sculpture from the 4th century AD, is
remarkable for its grace, elegance, restraint
and serenity.
51
Maha-pari-nirvana, Cave 26
52
Maha-pari-nirvana, Cave 26
53
Naga King and his consort Cave 19
54
However, the general character of the sculpture
of Ajanta tends towards a certain heaviness of
form, and is considered inferior to the
Gupta images.
55
Hariti Shrine, Cave 2
56
Every one of the sculptures was plastered and
painted.
But most of the plaster is now lost.
Sculpture at the Entrance Cave 17
57
Themes
58
Jataka Stories
The subjects of the paintings are mostly
from the jataka-s, Buddhist mythological stories
of the previous lives of the Master
59
Jataka Stories
This is a scene from the story of King Shibi,
who offered his own flesh to save a pigeon.
60
A Scene from Shibi Jataka, Cave 1
61
Life of the Buddha
Episodes from the life of the Buddha form the
next important theme.
62
Life of the Buddha
Gautama was meditating under the Bodhi tree to
attain enlightenment. Mara, the Evil Spirit,
made many attempts to dislodge Gautama from His
resolve. Mara sent his three most beautiful
daughters to distract Him. When this failed,
Mara summoned his demons to dislodge
Gautama. But Gautama was calm and unmoved.
63
Maras Episode, Cave 1
64
Life of the Buddha
On the way to Her parents house Mayadevi gave
birth to Siddharta in Lumbini grove of shaala
trees. Brahma, Indra and other gods descended to
pay their respects to the new-born.
65
A Scene from The Birth of the Buddha, Cave 2
66
Solo Pictures Religious
There are a few compositions of divinities, but
these are not part of any story.
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Cave 1
67
Solo Pictures Secular
A few of the solo-pictures do not seem to have
any religious import.
68
Lady doing her make-up, Cave 17
69
Decorative
The paintings in the last category are
decorative and secular. They fill up all the
available space on the ceilings, pillars, etc.
70
Mythical birds
Clown
Floral design
Geometrical design
Animals
Hilarious themes
71
Composition
72
Composition of the paintings over the period is
an interesting study.
73
Earlier phase (2nd - 1st centuries BC)
Narration arranged is in the form of long canvass,
at eye level, progressing from episode to episode
The Raja with his Retinue, Cave 10
74
Later phase (4th century AD onwards)
Later the paintings overspread the entire
surface of the wall.
In these paintings narratives proceed from
scene to scene and from act to
act harmoniously.
The scenes are not separated into frames that
might disturb the concentration of the
viewing devotees.
75
Later phase (4th century AD onwards)
An interesting feature of the narration, from
the earlier times, is that a strict chronology of
events was not followed.
In many panels scenes are grouped according
to the location of the scenes.
The composition of Matriposhaka Jataka, is
typical of this period.
76
Matri-poshaka Jataka Cave 17
Bodhisattva born as Matri-poshaka, a white
elephant, lives in a forest taking care of his
blind parents. Once the elephant rescues a man,
and requests him not to divulge his presence
to any one.
77
The ungrateful person, who was rescued by
Matri-poshaka, gives out his whereabouts to the
king.
Matri-poshaka Jataka, Cave 17
78
The captured elephant is being led to the city.
79
The king supervises feeding the elephant, but
the elephant refuses to eat. Before the brooding
elephant some food in a large vessel and
sugarcane are lying about.
80
The released animal is walking majestically
towards the forest.
81
The happy reunion.
82
Later phase (4th century AD onwards)
Many panels suggest that the Ajanta artists
used specific conventions for separating
scenes and acts from each other using
suggestive punctuation marks.
83
A gateway may mark the end of an act
In a palace scene pillars may separate the scenes
Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
84
Painting Technique
85
Indian wall-paintings are done on dry wall,
called fresco secco
Indras Descent, Cave 17
In the West painting is done on a moist
wall, called fresco buono
Last Supper, da Vinci
86
It might have taken centuries for the Indian
artist to develop the technique of preparing
the wall for painting, and also to select
suitable pigments with an appropriate binder.
The importance of these may be seen from the
fact that the Ajanta paintings have
withstood the ravages of time with remarkable
resilience.
87
Preparation of Wall
We have no clue to the technique of preparing
the wall. But the treatises which were written
later based on the Ajanta experience give us
an idea. For example, Vishnu-dharmottara (7th
century) explains the process of preparing
the base plaster and the finish coat, called
vajralepa.
88
Preparation of Wall Base Plaster
It consisted of powdered brick, burnt conches
and sand, mixed with a molasses and decoction
of Phaseolus munga. To this were added mashed
ripe bananas or tree resins and the pulp of
bilva fruit. After drying it was ground down and
mixed with molasses and water until became
soft for coating.
89
Preparation of Wall Finish Coat
Buffaloskin was boiled in water until it became
soft. Sticks were then made of the paste and
dried in the sunshine. When colour was mixed
with this, it made it fast, and if white mud
was mixed with it, it served as a perfect
medium for coating walls.
90
Pigments used
Most pigments were minerals available
locally red ochre, vivid red, yellow ochre,
indigo blue, chalk white, terra verte and
green Only Lapis lazuli was imported
Lamp-black was the only non-mineral
91
Painting Sequence
A preliminary sketch in iron ore was drawn
while the surface was still slightly
wet, followed by an under-painting in grey or
white. On this surface the outline was filled in
with various colours, proceeding from
underpainting to the appropriate colours of
the subject.
92
Painting Sequence
Finally, when dry, it was finished off with a
dark outline for final definition and a
burnishing process to give lustre to the
surface.
93
Painting Tradition
94
The paintings of Ajanta are the earliest
representation of Indian painting tradition
available to us. Even the earlier paintings at
Ajanta, of the 2nd century BC, demonstrate a
sophisticated technique, achievable only after
centuries of experimentation.
Unfortunately we have no trace of
such experimentation.
95
To get to know this great tradition one may turn
to the treatises written based on the Ajanta
experiment.
96
Treatises were codified based on Ajanta
experience
Brihat-samhita (6th century) Kama-sutra (6th
century) Vishnu-dharmottara (7th
century) Samarangana-sutra-dhara (11th century)
97
Six Limbs of Painting according to Kama-sutra,
a well-known treatise on erotics
rUpabhedapramANAni bhAvalAvaNya yojanam
sAdRShyam vArNikabhangam iti chitram
shaDAngakam rUpa-bheda differentiation
pramANam proportion bhAva suggestion of
mood lAvaNya-yojanam infusion of grace
sAdRShyam resemblance vArNika-bhangam
application of colour
98
Eight Limbs of Painting according
to Samarangana-sutra-dhara, a treatise on
Architecture bhUmi-bandhana preparation of
surface varnika crayon work rekha-karma
outline work lakshaNa features of
face varna-karma colouring vartana-karma
relief by shading lekha-karma
correction dvika-karma final outline
99
Producing Depth Relief
100
From very early times, Indian artists have been
using a variety of techniques to produce an
illusion of the third dimension.
101
Perspective
An example of expert rendering in
normal perspective
A Monastery, Shibi Jataka, Cave 17
102
Multiple Vision
A technique of painting scenes from different
angles and merging them, similar to the modern
technique called Multiple Vision.
103
Details of the farthest pavilion would be
lost in normal perspective
Three separate shots dissolved to show action in
all the pavilions
104
Multiple Vision
Lustration Renunciation, Cave 1
105
A Ceiling Painting, Cave 1
Kshaya vriddhi (loss-and-gain) Fore-shortening
106
Using Colours
Two main techniques were employed
animnonnata - flat style nimnonnata - relief by
shading
107
Animnonnata
A flat style that uses dark colours for the
subjects in the foreground against a background
of lighter shades, or vice versa
108
Shibi Jataka, Cave 1
109
Nimnonnata
Vartana shading techniques choosing
judiciously tones and colours
Ujjotana a technique of adding highlights
110
Vartana
A high-relief technique to produce an illusion
of the third dimension
There were three main variations
111
Patraja (shading-like-the-lines-of-a-leaf)
Illusion of depth is achieved by drawing lines
to follow contours of the body
112
A Ceiling Painting, Cave 1
113
Binduja (dot-and-stipple method)
Illusion of depth is achieved by painting dots
with variations in concentration of dots
114
A Ceiling Painting, Cave 2
115
Airika (a wash technique)
Illusion of depth is achieved by executing
tonal variation and avoiding hard-lines
116
Children playing with a Hen, Cave 2
117
Ujjotana (adding highlights)
Highlights in the form of white patches added
on the cheeks, the chin, the nose, etc to get a
three-dimensional effect
118
A woman in a Palace Scene, Cave 1
119
Chaya-tapa (shade-and-shine)
A technique that produces a chiaroscuro effect
Bodhisattva Padmapani, Cave 1
120
Use of Blue Colour (Lapis Lazuli)
In the later period lapis lazuli, a blue,
imported mineral came to be used as an
effective medium for creating visual
depth, contrasting with warm red and brown
tones
121
Simhala Avadana, Cave 17
122
Painting DanceUnique relation in Indian art
123
The relationship between painting and dance is
a remarkable unique Indian tradition
Vishnu-dharmottara (7th century AD) stresses the
impossibility of attaining a proper expression of
feeling in painting without the knowledge of
dance
124
There are paintings from the earlier as well as
the later periods of Ajanta art that depict
dance scenes.
Here is an unaffected dancer from pre-Christian
era
125
Raja with his Retinue, Cave 10
126
Dancing had become highly stylised in the later
period. A dancer with full complement of
accompanying musicians is from Cave 1.
127
The vibrant grace of pose and gesture invest
her with a swaying, flower-like rhythm and
movement.
128
Tribhanga Pose
Tribhanga is a very important feature in the
depiction of the human form. The whole figure is
structured around three main axes.
129
Tribhanga Pose
It gives the body an S-shaped rhythm, a fluency
of line, which, together with the appropriate
gestures of hands, conveys a wide range of
expressions.
130
Painting Sculpture Another unique relation
131
Most impressive is the way the two
art-forms, painting and sculpture, co-exist at
Ajanta, complementing each other.
132
Cave 6
133
The sculptures were fully painted, though most
of the paint has disappeared.
134
Entrance, Cave 17
135
Symbolism in Indian Art
136
The parts of the body should resemble, and be
based on, similes drawn from plant or
animal-life. Sensuous lips are ripe and full
like the bimba-fruit fingers likened to
lotus-petals.
137
Here the allusion is not to the form but to
the content, to the mood. It is a suggestion
and not realistic likeness.
138
His divine face has the shape of an egg
Bodhisattva Padma-pani Cave 1
139
His shoulders are like massive domed head of
an elephant, and arms like its tapered trunk
Bodhisattva Padma-pani Cave 1
140
His hands are supple like flower-bud
141
Other Metaphors
simha-kati (body-of-a -lion)
gomukha khanda (cow's-head)
142
pada-pallava (feet-like-leaves)
143
charana-kamala (feet-like-lotus)
144
Body Postures (sthana-s)
145
In Indian tradition the postures of the body
were identified and distinct terms were used
to cover the entire range
rijva-gata (Strict profile)
parshva-gata (Frontal)
to
146
It is possible that this was greatly
influenced by the contemporary dance
traditions.
147
A woman listening to a sermon is an excellent
study
Shankha-pala Jataka, Cave 1
148
The three women are in different postures
another example of elegant poses
Mural Painting, Cave 17
149
This is particularly so with the depiction of
women shown in congregation
Chempayya Jataka, Cave 1
150
Draughtmanship
151
Drawings with a free flowing sweep of the
brush to depict oval faces, arched
eyebrows, aquiline noses, and fine sensitive
lips are aplenty on the walls of Ajanta
152
Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
153
A relaxed monkey, consisting basically of one
masterly sweep of brush starting beneath
chin and forming a curve outlining head and
spine and terminating beneath knee-cap
Shad-danta Jataka, Cave 17
154
Portrayal of Women
Portrayal of Women
155
Women of Ajanta are the art connoisseurs
delight. The Ajanta artist has painted the whole
range of women characters ladies of court and
their maids, dancers, common women in their
house-hold chores
156
The woman was the theme that gave full scope
for expression of creative genius for the
Ajanta artist.
157
The artist had succeeded in reproducing the soft
roundness of her breasts, the curves of her
hips, the turn of her head, the gestures of her
hands and the slanting glance of her eyes.
158
Clothed in Nakedness
It is intriguing that most of Ajanta
heroines are depicted naked, or in near nudity,
while all the others in the same scene are
fully clothed
159
Clothed in Nakedness
Janapada-kalyani Conversion of Nanda, Cave 1
160
Clothed in Nakedness
Queen Shivali Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
161
Clothed in Nakedness
Maya-devi, Siddhartas Mother Nativity of the
Buddha, Cave 2
162
Clothed in Nakedness
Nandas wife, the central figure, is
naked whereas all the maids are fully clothed.
The Dying Princess Conversion of Nanda, Cave 16
163
Black is Beautiful
Many heroines of Ajanta are dark complexioned.
Perhaps contemporary taste included black as
an attractive complexion for skin.
164
Black is Beautiful
Consort of Padma-pani Padma-pani Panel, Cave 1
165
Black is Beautiful
The Dying Princess Conversion of Nanda, Cave 16
166
Black is Beautiful
Black Apsaras Adoration of the Buddha Panel Cave
17
167
Black is Beautiful
Shakti Pandara, Avalokitesvara Panel, Cave 1
168
Common People
A Village Woman attending Coronation Vishvantara
Jataka, Cave 17
169
Common People
Woman braiding Hair Vishvantara Jataka, Cave 17
170
We wonder why very sensuous women were painted
at all in these religious caves
171
Depiction of Movement
172
Vishnu-dharmottara says "He, who paints
waves, flames, smoke, according to the
movement of the wind, is a great painter."
Ajanta painters took great pleasure in
composing scenes involving movement with great
zest.
173
In the Scene when Indra and His entourage
descent to worship the Buddha. the floating
clouds, the swaying foliage and apsaras and
gandharvas flying swiftly through the air,
produce a fantastic movement
174
Indras Descent, Cave 17
175
A mad elephant was let loose on the Compassionate
One by his envious half-brother. Elephant on the
rampage is shown in great dynamism
176
Subjugation of Nalagiri, Cave 17
177
This charging bull is another example in
depicting movement
A Ceiling Painting, Cave 1
178
Fighting Bulls, A painting on a pillar, Cave 1
179
Humour
180
The royal household is immersed in a religious
discourse by Bodhisattva.
Here is shown a servant stealing fruits.
And a servant-maid has noticed the mischief.
181
Attendant
Champeyya Jataka, Cave 1
182
On the pedestal of Goddess Hariti is shown a
class-room. While the students in the front rows
are attentive to the teacher, the backbenchers
are enjoying themselves by chasing a ram!
Hariti shrine, Cave 2
183
Musical Heritage
184
Musical Heritage
In Ajanta, we can study the development of our
musical heritage. We can see both the continuity
and change over the period. A variety of
musical instruments have been depicted.
185
Musical Heritage
Queen Shivali arranges A programme of dance with
a full compliment of accompanying musicians in
order to draw the king towards worldly pleasures
186
Flute
Cymbals
Flute
Vertical Drum
Small Drum
Dancer with Musicians, Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
187
Musical Heritage
The abdicated king is given a royal send off with
musician forming part of the procession
188
Conch
Flute
Mridangam
King abdicating, Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
189
Musical Heritage
Kinnara playing Kachchapa Vina, Padmapani Panel,
Cave 1
190
Musical Heritage
Musicians form the entourage When Indra descends
To worship the Buddha
191
Cymbal
Cymbal
Flute
Drum
Descent of Indra, Cave 17
192
Contemporary Fashion
193
Ajanta is treasure-house to study contemporary
fashion in textiles, jewellery, etc.
194
Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
The girl sports an upper-garment with rows of
geese printed on it
195
The glorious tradition of ikkat, a resist-dye
method, where yarn is dyed to produce a design,
leading to todays Patola and
Pochampalli, was initiated here.
Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
196
  • The tailored dress of dancer
  • a proof of high degree
  • of sophistication in
  • both fabric design and
  • dress-making

Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
197
Sophisticated ornaments can be seen on the dancer
Arsi, Thumb-ring set with a Miniature Mirror
Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
198
Karna-pushpam, Ear-rings of elaborate Design
199
Sharashri, Head-dress of Gold-beads and Pearls
200
Hairdress
201
Ceiling Paintings
202
For reasons unknown, the Ajanta artist did not
paint religious themes on the ceilings. But
expert workmanship is evident.
These drawings have taken the texture of a
carpet, brilliantly woven, captivating the
eyes and filling the senses.
203
Flowers
Animals/Birds
Geometrical
In lighter vein
204
One of the themes is the huge concentric circle
enclosed in a square, with number of flowery
bands within it.
205
Cave 2
206
Ceiling Painting
Hariti shrine, Cave 2
207
Main hall, Cave 17
208
Another popular theme consists of a number of
rectangular panels filled with decorative
motifs framed by smaller rectangles with
representations of fruit and floral forms.
209
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210
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211
Ceiling Paintings Animals Birds
212
Reclining Bulls Cave 17
213
Cave 1
214
Cave 1
215
Ceiling Paintings In Lighter Vein
216
Cave 1
Cave 2
217
The most intriguing and least expected in a
religious shrine are the scenes depicting a
king in his harem
and friends enjoying each other's company with
wine!
218
Persian Harem, Cave 2
219
Friends drinking, Cave 2
220
Phases of Ajanta Art
221
In most forms of art one may discern a gradual
and natural progression.
222
A lack of experience in making and employing
tools, in narration, etc, is generally the
beginning. This is often called archaic style.
223
Then follows a mature phase, a phase of quiet
dignity without excesses
and the artists prefer studied dignity and what
they call 'good taste'. This is the classical
phase
224
Repetition of ideas, called mannerism is
perhaps the next stage
to be followed by over-ornamentation, a style
known as baroque.
225
It is then the decline
226
By sheer chance, the development of style from
the beginning to its final decline can be
witnessed within the physical limits of Ajanta.
In this respect Ajanta has no parallel.
227
Pre-Classical Period (2nd-1st Centuries BC)
Classical Period (4th-5th Centuries AD)
Period of Mannerism (5th-6th Centuries AD)
Baroque Period (Mid-6th Century AD)
Period of Decline (End-6th Century AD)
228
Phases of Ajanta ArtPre-classical Period
(2nd-1st centuries BC)
229
Pre-classical Period
The earliest paintings of Ajanta of the 2nd-1st
century BC cannot be classified as archaic.
These paintings present lively men and animals.
They belong to the transitional period that was
to carry them on to the classical phase.
230
Pre-classical Period
Shown here is a king with his retinue going
towards a temple.
231
The composition is characterised by restricted
use of colours, mostly brown in various tones.
Most characters are shown in the three-fourth
profile, a monotony avoided in the later periods.
Raja with Retinue, Cave 10
232
Pre-classical Period
Shad-danta Jataka, Cave 10
Only a line sketch of this grand composition,
belonging to the same period is available to
appreciate the lost glory.
233
Phases of Ajanta Art Classical Period (4th-5th
centuries AD)
234
Classical Period
This style means perfect mastery of the subject.
Everything is idealised, realism is only for
creating things of beauty and perfection.
There is a dignity and nobility, and allows no
exaggeration, no excess, no overstatement and
no dramatisation.
235
Classical Period
Calm, unobtrusive modelling and the
gentle, swaying movement of the characters bear
the stamp of the classical period.
A wash technique, called airika creating an
illusion of depth is employed here
Votaries with offerings, Cave 2
236
The Prince is informing his wife of his
impending exile and is offering wine to steady
her.
237
The posture of the couple and the sombre
colours, make the painful scene striking.
Belonging to the classical period, the scene
brings out the emotional atmosphere
effectively.
Visvantara Jataka, Cave 17
238
Phases of Ajanta Art Period of Mannerism
(5th-6th centuries AD)
239
Period of Mannerism
A departure from classicism can be seen in
monotony in the sitting posture and in the
overcrowding.
Vidhura-pandita Jataka, Cave 2
240
Phases of Ajanta Art Baroque Period (Mid-6th
century AD)
241
Baroque Period
Baroque is a style of over-ornamentation and
exaggeration.
Action takes place in a maze of pillars in
royal pavilions.
The eye-slits are stretched out of proportion.
Men look effeminate and women exaggeratedly
feminine.
Both men and women wear excessive ornaments.
242
Baroque Period
The Bodhisattva is heavily bejewlled and His
eyes elongated out of proportion.
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Cave 1
243
Baroque Period
Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
244
Phases of Ajanta Art Period of Decline (End-6th
century AD)
245
Period of Decline
Artistic standards were in the decline from
the end of the 6th century.
Mercifully this phase did not last long, for the
Ajanta caves were soon abandoned forever, for
reasons unknown.
246
Period of Decline
The poses are now exaggerated with heavy heads,
elongated eyes, thin legs, superfluous hand
gestures, etc. The composition is too crowded.
The execution becomes careless
247
Women in a Palace Scene, Cave 1
248
Period of Decline
The figures of the Buddhas came to be enclosed
in separate cubicles
Two Buddhas, Cave 10
249
Period of Decline
This presentation of figures of the Buddhas,
lacks refinement and finish.
Miracle at Shravasti, Cave 2
250
Period of Decline
In place of shapely palms and Sensitive
fingers, they are stiff and simplified. The face
lacks expression.
An Unidentified Scene, Cave 1
251
Inspirationat Home
252
The paintings of Ajanta, in style, in type and
in technique, exerted their influence on Indian
art for centuries to follow.
The paintings in the Bagh caves in Ellora, in
Sittannavasal, are perpetuation of the
refinement of the great murals of the Ajanta
caves.
253
Sittannavasal In Tamilnadu
Bagh in Madhya Pradesh
254
Inspiration Abroad
255
With the spread of Buddhism to Indian
Asia Buddhist mural decoration initiated at
Ajanta diffused into these parts.
The paintings of Sigiriya in Srilanka, of
Bamiyan, of Turfan in China and of Horyu Kondo
in Japan are regional variation of the Ajanta
idiom
256
Sigiriya, Srilanka
Turfan, China
257
The end of the Ajanta epoch
The creative period of Ajanta ended as
mysteriously as it had begun. Some of the
unfinished caves, which were quite
obviously abandoned unexpectedly, show that the
emigration took place over a comparatively short
span of time.
258
Ananda Coomaraswamy says .. The frescoes of
Ajanta preserve an infinitely precious record of
the golden age of Indian painting.
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.
260
Every gesture springs in godlike fashion directly
from the natural dispositions of the mind .
261
Thank you.
262
Contact me through sswami99_at_gmail.com Find my
details at www.pudukkottai.org/swaminathan S.
Swaminathan
263
Conceived and presented by S. Swaminathan (sswami9
9_at_gmail.com) www.pudukkottai.org/swaminathan with
assistance from R. Murugapandian M. V. Kiran
Feb, 2005
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