The period in which written records were not maintained is called pre-history. History has left many evidences of pre-history. One of them is pre-historic art. Pre-historic art mostly refers to art that was found on pieces of rocks and caves. We can explain the concept of pre-historic rock paintings with examples from India. In India, first of all, the rock-painting was discovered in 1867-68 AD by an eminent archaeologist Archibold Corlleyle. Cockburn Anderson Mitra and Ghosh were the early archaeologists who initially took interest to discover a large number of sites where primitive men took shelter in caves during the prehistoric period in Indian subcontinent.
Remnants of rock paintings have been found on the walls of the caves which are widely spread and situated in several districts of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Most of the rock paintings that were discovered in all such places were divided into three categories-man, animal and geometric patterns with white, black, and red ochre. Such examples of rock paintings were found in the caves of Lakhu-Udiyar (means one lakh caves) in Almora district of Uttarakhand, Kupgallu, Piklihal, and Tekkad Kota. Apart from this, large number of spectacular rock shelters of Bhimbetka are located in the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh near Bhopal. Rock paintings found in such places belong to different periods-Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Charcolithic, early history, and medieval period.
Upper Paleolithic Period- In this period, there are linear representations in green and dark red of huge figures of animals such as bison, tigers, rhinoceros, boars, and stick-like human figures in which a few are wash paintings and mostly in geometric patterns.
Mesolithic Period- The paintings of this period comparatively small in size but more in numbers. There is depiction of communal dancers, birds, human playing musical instruments, mother and children, pregnant women, men carrying dead animals.
Chalcolithic Period- The paintings of this period are similar to that of the Mesolithic period. But during this period, the cave dwellers of this area came into contact with agricultural communities of the Malwa plains and they exchanged goods with them.
Early History Period- The paintings of this period are schematic and decorative in style and painted mainly with red, white and yellow colours.
Medieval Period- The paintings of this period are more schematic, linear, and geometrical in shape, but they show degeneration and crudeness in their style.
The artists depict these scenes of the environment in which they lived. Both men and animals seem to be engaged in the struggle for their survival. At some places such as Bhimbetka a new painting was painted on top of an older one. 20 such paintings have been found in different parts of India. Some of these paintings were considered sacred or special.
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