Ancient Indian Culture Paintings: The very first works of visual art created in the Indian sub-continent were the primitive cave or the rock paintings. Many of such paintings were discovered in Central India. These paintings were on sandstone rock shelters within a hundred mile radius around Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. These dated back to somewhere around 5500 B.C. Some of these paintings have been overlaid with later paintings and graffiti.

Ancient Indian Culture Paintings
Ancient prehistoric painter Bhimbetka near Bhopal Madhya Pradesh India

The paintings generally depicted animals, in scenes such as hunting. Human figures were also shown with bows and arrows, and swords and shields. The colors used in an intricately carved pillar at Ellora in Maharashtra dating back to the 7th century. This pillar was made up of natural minerals and was painted on various shades of red and orange.

Ancient Indian Art

These paintings were the forerunners of the frescos of a later age. These were seen at Ajanta, Ellora and other parts of India. However, unfortunately, no well-preserved art remains, to document the period between the invasions of the Aryans. Thus, this period ranges from1500 B.C. to about the time of Buddha in 550 B.C.

Ancient Indian Culture Paintings
Ajanta Ellora Caves

In the Buddhist texts, elaborate palaces of kings and houses of the wealthy. They were described as being embroidered with wall paintings. But actual evidence about this art is lost. Nevertheless, it can be guessed from the paintings on stone surfaces found at Ajanta and Ellora which are said to have been done in around 400 A.D. These paintings at Ajanta and Ellora depict Buddhist tales from the Jatakas. Though the paintings are today 1500 years old, the paint has not only retained its color but also much of its luster.

Technique of Painting

The technique of painting was carried by following a procedure. At first, the surface of the stone was prepared by a coating of potter’s clay. This was mixed variously with cow dung, straw, and animal hair. Once this was leveled to a thickness of half an inch to two inches, it was coated with a smooth fine white lime plaster which became the actual painting surface.

On the still-damp wall, the artist first laid out his composition with a red cinnabar line. Then he defined the subjects with an undercoat of grey or Terre Verte. This was followed by the addition of local colors. Once the whole wall was completely colored, a brown or black line restated the drawing to finish the composition.

Ancient Indian Culture Paintings

The last burnishing with a smooth stone gave it a rich lustrous surface. The colors which were natural and water-soluble consisted of purple, browns, yellow, blue, white, green, reds and black. The colors used were supposed to have been derived from minerals and vegetables. However, they had been treated to last long. This technique of painting had also spread to central Asia and South-east Asia.

Ancient Indian Culture Paintings

Some strains of Indian painting can even be identified in western church paintings and mosaics. Indian influence was clearly evident in the paintings at Bamiyan in Afghanistan and in Miran and Domko in Central Asia. Not only do these paintings depict the Buddha but also Hindu deities such as Shiva, Ganesha, and Surya.

Thus it is evident that the technique of painting had developed to an advanced level. The monumental bull was carved in marble in the 3rd century B.C. It stood on a column built by Emperor Ashoka, which was inscribed with Buddhist edicts of sophistication. As a result of this, the paintings could survive for 1500 years.