Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Paintings of Prehistoric Man in South India

Art has no particular history of its origin. Since the prehistoric days, man had been painting in stones and rocks. Earlier, man was entirely dependent on stones and so they used to settle down in places where the stones can be found nearby. Thus, the beautiful paintings of that period can be found only in those stones and engravings on rocks and caves.

Bhimbetka rock PaintingThese prehistoric paintings found in the rocks reveal the engravings of animals, birds, human figures, hunting scenes and geometric designs. The Bhimbhetka in Madhya Pradesh is well known for its prehistoric rock art. The Benekal forest, Maski and Koppgallu in Karnataka and Porivarai (near Karikaiyur) and Kilvalai in Tamil Nadu are the places of South India where prehistoric rock art can be seen. Porivarai situated in the Nilgiris hills of Tamil Nadu district is popular among all the prehistoric rock art found in South India. Porivarai is placed in a deep jungle crowded with wildlife. One of the largest prehistoric paintings of South Asia is the rock painting found here in Porivarai. The theme of the painting consists of hunting scenes and dancing scenes.

These prehistoric arts of South India later influenced the art of later periods. For example, the human figures seen on the rocks at Benekal forest, Maski, Koppgallu in Karnataka and Porivarai in Tamil Nadu and a few other sites are have a remarkable similarity with human figures on the karshapanas or punch-marked coins that were used as money in India approximately from 600 B.C. to 100 A.D.

Most of these rock-art samples and coins have shown the human body in the `S` twists form. These also represent dynamism of action. The archaic Ujjain symbol seen at Porivarai represents a four-armed symbol. It has some similarity with the same type of symbol seen on the `Karsbapanas`. The same happens with the animal paintings in Porivarai. These animals are mostly shown in profile as on many of the karsbapanas.

Again, some of the bulls embodied on the rocks at Koppgallu have stylistic resemblance with the bulls on the karsbapanas.

Many other art-motifs and symbols comprising the `Nandipada` and various geometric designs are common to both, the rock-art, mainly paintings found at sites like Kilvalai in Tamil Nadu, and the punch-marked coins. The prehistoric paintings and rock arts are now situated mostly in remote areas, deep into the forest. Therefore, these sites are not known by the common people and they do not attract the tourists also for the same reason.

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