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The Secret of Ajanta Cave Painting

Part - 3


A new era of Ajanta paintings emerged in Cave 10 after a 250-year hiatus. These paintings were likely created sometime before or after the year 350. They are notable for incorporating Gandharan art concepts into the Indian traditional conception. One of the most notable examples is the round halo (see example below) located behind the head of the Buddha and other spiritual figures borrowed from Gandharan art. These paintings demonstrate the artists' more mature brushwork.


Lord Buddha ajanta cave
Lord Buddha with round helo

The political situation of the mentioned period is difficult to discern. However, experts and historians have expressed the belief that the Gupta Dynasty in northern India impacted Ajanta's creative activity and the lifespan of southern India. During the sixth century AD, the Vakataka dynasty ruled the area. Evidence of this can be found in a stone discovered in one of the caves (located on the right side of the following page), which was vaguely inscribed with the name of a minister's son of the King's court of the Vakataka dynasty who ordered excavating those caves in regards to the Buddhist Mendicants. Sixteen, seventeen, four, seven, eleven, and fifteen caves were painted during this era. They, too, affirmed the alley between the Gupta and Vakataka dynasties since they manifested that once a time, an alliance had been made between the two dynasties. As an outcome, a marriage occurred between the prince of Vakataka and the princess of the Gupta dynasty.


Evidence of the Vakataka dynasty found on stone
Evidence of the Vakataka dynasty found on stone

Cave number 16 depicts a remarkable era of artistry. If you visit cave number 17, you'll be captivated by the excellent composition concepts. In this cave, you'll find many storytelling paintings of Jataka, which portray the pre-birth of Lord Buddha. Exploring this cave is a distinctive experience, resembling an art gallery where numerous narratives reveal the holy lifespan of a great spiritual leader. Peace, compassion, love, and pardon emanate from all the walls of this tranquil place.


Having the determination of the historians, from this era, the influence of Lord Buddha had been dimming out, and therefore, it was necessary to restart communication ostensibly. The excavation of this cave just followed the said motifs.


A figure composition in Ajanta Cave wall
A figure composition in Ajanta Cave wall

Experts have determined that caves 1 and 2 are younger than the others, and the paintings in those caves were created between 626 and 628 AD. Observing a subjective masterpiece depicting Emperor Second Pulakeshi inviting the ambassador of Persian King Khasru pervage helped determine the period in which they were created. The style and method of the paintings also indicate this period. Historians have confirmed that cave number 2 is newer than cave number 1. Regrettably, the paintings in Cave Number 2 were created conventionally, causing a lack of focus and emotional impact in the artwork. They apparently remixed the Chinese materials with Persian concepts, which eventually fell down the excellent form of Ajanta custom. Compared with the paintings of the Tun Huang caves of China, Dr. Griffiths, however, pointed out some paintings of Ajanta that followed the same character, style, and concept of composition. Here, the merit of those artists went away, and they just followed the conventional methodology. Those probably ostensibly indicate that Buddhism's impact blew away in the mentioned era.


Fortunately, Ajanta has been keeping up with the histories of the seven centuries of Indian art. Some experts indistinctly suppose that Nagarjuna and his team painted nine and ten caves. In the AD 5 or 6 century, another great artist performed in India during the dynasty of King Buddha Paksha, bearing the name Bimbisara. At that time, Indian art achieved such a high label that it proposed the work of God! Indeed, it was a glorious time in Indian history in the art and sculpture segment.


After unveiling the secret of Ajanta cave paintings, I'll start discussing the materials used in those paintings of Ajanta cave. So, please stay in touch. Thanks.



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