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Perspective in Ajanta Paintings

Part - 2

In this chapter, we explore the Indian conception of perspective. In Western vision, we cannot define any mistake in the distance factor while watching any painting of Ajanta. Still, if we watch intensely a few more times, we can see something that does not comply with our usual concept.


To make it clear, I have to preface an example. We should consider a covered pavilion containing pillars. If we extend those lines of that pavilion to the horizontal border, we will see that those lines meet several vanishing points. Besides this, the horizontal lines of the front side of that pavilion will convert to diagonal lines, the lines of both sides will be more prominent, and moreover, spectators will quickly locate themselves based on those vanishing points.


perspective in Ajanta Paintings
The sense of perspective in Ajanta Paintings

The above example we took from the Western concept of perspective; however, a spectator while locating himself in the middle front of that pavilion, accordingly, the sidelines of that pavilion, which goes to the vanishing point of the far back of that pavilion, is too visible to that spectator! How is it possible? How could someone see two different viewpoints from the same angle? It is because the artists did not follow or copy the actual pavilion. Instead, they depended on their imagination and had the knowledge about the technique of multiple visions; finally, it produced the result of their artistic intuition, and they just implemented it in their discipline.


 We know very well about the multiple visions that came at the end of the 19th century and started the 20th-century masterpiece paintings of Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh, and others; however, astonishingly, in India, the techniques of multiple visions had been used before Christ.


Another perspective technique used in that era, which we identified as "rotation perspective," is found in several compositions in Ajanta's painting. We must go to the number one cave to see this fantastic concept. You can see two pavilions in the inner wall of that cave. The first part of that composition is related to the coronation of Prince Mahajanaka, and in the second part, we will see his austerity.


Mahajanaka Jataka
Mahajanaka Jataka

If you consider extending the lines of those pavilions, you will see that the lines of both are meeting in the opposite vanishing points! As a result, you will find yourself on the inner side of both pavilions. Hence, after watching around the inner side of the first pavilion, you can quickly move to the second pavilion without transferring yourself physically!


Such a perspective in Ajanta paintings is noted as a rotation perspective. We can find a similar sense of perspective elsewhere in the oldest Osirian and Babylonian art. Ajanta artists used this concept extensively and significantly. Moreover, if they continued with their talent, it would come very close to the modern idea of multiple-vision perspective.


Next, we will take a short tour of the crucial caves of Ajanta. So stay tuned for a beautiful tour!

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