Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 1:22 AM
The earliest paintings in India have been found in primitive caves and rock-shelters in Mirzapur and Banda in Uttar Pradesh, in the Mahadev hills of the Vindhyan range in Bundelkhand, in the Kaimur hills in the area of Bagelkhand, in Singanpur in Raigarh district of Central India and Bellary in the South. These paintings are mainly hunting scenes representing man in his encounter with wild animals.
In Singanpur, the cavern is in a ruined state with an amount of debris obstructing the entrance. There have been recovered here several objects of prehistoric man which would give a clue to help surmise the date of these cave-dwellers and their art. The paintings, though in a crude technique, represent vivid pictures of hunt. Red pigment has been freely used. Some of the figures have got washed off. In a well-preserved scene, there is the hunt of a bison and a sambhar. The human figures are conventionalised. The torso is sometimes drawn as almost a ladder composed of steps; sometimes it is a silhouetted figure with the head dominating the rest of the body, the hands and feet in all cases appearing as just straight or bent lines. Their handling pikes and javelins in their effort to attack the animal is indeed most lively. One of the animals at Singanpur represents a barking dog, rushing forward at a terrific pace, the tail stretched out and the legs indicating the speed of its motion. This is in contrast with the stylised form in many of the human figures. These paintings have affinities with similar primitive paintings of Cogul in Spain.
Interesting prehistoric paintings have been discovered in the rock-shelters of the Kaimur range. At Bhalduria in Mirzapur district, there is a scene of stag hunt where harpoons and spears are depicted in action. Harpoons again occur in the attack of an animal in paintings from the Lohri cave. In the Likhunia rock-shelter in the Son valley, there is another stag hunt represented. In all these cases, it is the cave-man, using flint weapons like a stone spear that is depicted. An interesting scene of a rhinoceros hunt occurs in the Ghormangar cave. A group of six men attack the animal. The scene is quite animated as the rhino is giving good battle. The animal is so enraged that he is undaunted by the barbs and spears used against him. There are other similar scenes of rhinoceros hunts at the Harin Hama cave, at Roup and other places.
Similarly, hunting scenes painted in red occur in the Vindhyan area at Sarhat, Kuria Kund and Karpatia. At Pachmarhi and Hoshangabad in the Mahadev Hills, there are several rock-shelters with similar paintings depicting hunting and pastoral scenes. The scenes and the subjugation of two wild animals in a Monte Rosa shelter and a monkey playing the flute in upper Dorothy Deep shelter at Pachmarhi are very interesting.
Artistic work of a similar nature has been found at Kapgallu in Benary district in the south, where, besides hunting scenes depicting a bison fight, there are figures of elephants, birds and humped and horned bulls.
In Malabar, in the Edakal cave, Wainad, there are conventionalised human animal figures and several simple carvings, but here there are other ancient and medieval inscriptions, which are probably much late than the earlier executed carvings, which were completely covered up, till they were exposed, when they were discovered early in this century.