Friday, August 23, 2013

Paintings at Bheembetka caves

Historians and archaeologists  tell us that paintings at Bheembetka caves dates back as early as to 300 B.C. or even older than that. It is also said that these petrographs belong to  the periods of history stretching from Paleolithic to medieval. I don't know much about the classification of paintings to different eras but their longevity and the lives of the people of that time definitely fascinate me. The clarity of images on the rocks filled me with a sense of wonder. What medium the man of that time used to draw the pictures which provided them such a long life span ? Did they extract the colors from plants ? Perhaps yes..only nature is capable of leaving such immortal imprints. Who drew the paintings? Were the women used to draw when men folk went out deep into the forest to hunt, gather food etc.?or both men and women indulged in this creative pursuits. These rock shelters must have been their home. Were these pictures drawn for decorating their homes or the pictures were drawn on the occasions of certain festivals,celebration, worshiping their deities etc. As I stood there trying to locate the various images on the mammoth size of rocks several questions kept on popping .The images do answer certain questions but it's the charm of the unknown, the fathomless that make the experience so unique.

Man always loved to tell stories. Man has this desire to preserve and propagate his time, era, activities and life of his own time and what better way than to weave stories comprising all the details. Paintings too are a form of story telling. The petrographs at Bheembetka are stories in carving. They have a power to transcend time, language and culture. They transmit culturally and adaptively appropriate and useful information.

There are war scenes depicted in these paintings, battles between two armies, animals like elephants and horses used in war, the weapons, soldiers on horses fighting with swords. There are figures dancing, playing instruments, celebrating  and then there are images of Gods and Goddesses. Such pictures convey socially relevant information. They create historically relevant documents.

Art in any form is an integral part of man's being. Art, its appreciation and its role in the aesthetic development has always been an extremely early characteristic of human being. Art and its uses in man's daily life provide him with a deep sense of certainty and collective art like these painting at Bheembetka are not just an individual leisure time expressions and occupations rather it correspond to a basic human need of being connected to the things around him and if this need is not fulfilled it makes man feel insecure and anxious.
Man observes closely the things around him, he enjoys his observation and then out of these images he interprets life, trains himself for the life. Man has always been interested in things around himself-plants, trees and animals.
These paintings are great works of art in the sense that they invite one to be inhabitant of those bygone times.The paintings revive and readapt the time and space and open doors to those strange and special times.





a group dance may be

the aeroplane like structure in this painting astonished me.Did those people living in caves really imagined about aeroplane? or looking at the birds flying high up in the sky gave birth to the wish to be able to soar high in the vast expanse of sky.
this one has been dimmed with the passage of time still a horse like figure is traceable.In many of the gigantic caves it took us long time to search the figures painted and then we tried to decipher the shapes.They allured us to their world.  

all the pictures are by Sunder Iyer

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