83665065 Ajanta Caves

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Transcript of 83665065 Ajanta Caves

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Paintings of Ajanta Caves(2nd century BC to 6th century AD)

S. Swaminathan

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Introduction

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Ajanta is a great art treasure. Its caves are a fine example of rock-cut architecture. They contain some exquisite sculptures, and more importantly, paintings of unrivalled beauty.

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In these caves can be seen the development of Art from early phase of the pre-Christian era, reaching classical perfection, falling off into mannerism and then to baroque ornamentation and, finally, lapsing into artistic decline

Ajanta is a storehouse of information about the period: costumes, textile design, jewellery, musical heritage, court etiquette, social order, ideas of beauty and morality, customs and sense of wit.

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The paintings tell us about the technical aspects of their art: preparation of the ground, execution of the painting itself, preparation of the pigments, colour-overlay, with sense of perspective, space division, harnessing of the visual and tactile senses and pacing of the narrative.

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The Ajanta paintings are the earliest surviving paintings of India, religious or secular. The spirit of Ajanta influenced the religious art

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In fact, the Ajanta painting tradition is truly an indigenous religious art tradition. The Buddha and His disciples were Indians. The Indian artist did not have to make a translation from foreign to familiar terms

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Location of Ajanta

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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.

Aurangabad

Ellora Caves

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Mumbai

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The possible explanation for the monastic establishment at Ajanta is its proximity to the ancient trade routes.

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Period of Excavation

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The earliest caves in Ajanta were excavated during the rule of the Satavahana-s, who had their capital at Pratishthana (called Paithan in Maharashtra today). During their rule there was brisk trade and commerce within the land and with the Mediterranean world, which brought in enormous riches.

First PhaseHinayana period (2nd - 1st centuries BC)

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Caves 8, 9, 10, 13 & 15A were excavated during the rule of the Satavahana dynasty During this period there was only limited sculptural activity

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The second phase was of greater artistic activity at Ajanta during the rule of the Vakataka and the Chalukya dynasties from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD.

Second PhaseMahayana period (4th 6th centuries AD)

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Remaining caves were excavated during the rule of the Vakataka & the Chalukya dynasties

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Patronage

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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.

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The entire Ajanta chapter is a tribute to the religious tolerance of Hindu rulers.

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Re-discovery

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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.

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.

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Rahula and Yashodhara meet the Buddha, Cave 17

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Mural

Reproduction by Herringham

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Layout of the Caves

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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

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17 19

16

The caves are aligned 10 in a horseshoe form. 9 There are a total of 29 caves. 23 The general arrangement was not pre-planned, as they sprang up 6 sporadically in different periods. The caves are numbered 27 not on the basis of period of excavation, but on their physical location.

2 1

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Layout of the Caves

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Here are some enchanting views of the caves

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Undoubtedly suited for uninterrupted meditation and contemplation

A narrow pathway connects the caves to go on a pilgrimage to the highest achievement of Indian Buddhist art

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Rock-cut Architecture

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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.

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The Team was probably drawn from the profession of carpenters, with goldsmiths and ivory-carvers joining hands with the sculptors.

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The evolution of rock architecture took place during two periods: the Hinayana period of the pre-Christian era and the later Mahayana period.

Hinayana period (2nd - 1st centuries BC)PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

During the first phase the sculptural activity was limited.

Mahayana period (4th century onwards)PDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

In the second phase sculptural compositions filled the facade, the shrines etc. Side by side with the excavation of new caves the existing Hinayana ones were suitably modified.

Mahayana period Facade embellishedPDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

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The caves of Ajanta are divided into Chaitya-s - Temples Vihara-s - Monasteries

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The entrance has a prominent arched window to light the interior Relief sculptures added in Mahayana period

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Arched roof

Interior consists of a long vaulted nave with a pillared aisle on either side Far end is semicircular Pillared with a stupa at its aisle centre

Stupa

Vaulted nave

Vihara - Plan Shrine Cells It has a congregation hall with cells for the monks on the inner sides Later a shrine was excavated at the far endPDF Created with deskPDF PDF Writer - Trial :: http://www.docudesk.com

Hall

Entrance

Vihara - InteriorPDF