Discuss critically the Painting of cave X at Ajanta.

Cave X is an impressive chaitya hall and one of the earliest excavations from the 2nd century BC. The interior is divided into three aisles by two rows of plain octagonal columns. At the end of the central nave there is a votive stupa. There are some traces of paintings preserved on the walls which depict episodes from the life of the Buddha. The earliest paintings at Ajanta are in cave No. IX and X of which the only surviving one is a group on the left wall of cave X. This portrays a king with attendants in front of a tree decked with flags. The King has come to the sacred Bodhi tree for fulfilling some vow connected with the prince who is attending close to the king. This painting, though a fragmentary one shows a well developed art both in composition and execution which must have taken many centuries to reach this stage of maturity. There is a close resemblance in the representation of human figures with regard to their dress, ornaments and ethnical features between this painting and the sculptures of Amaravati and Karle of early Satavahana rules of circa 2nd century B.C.
The paintings are laid over a fine coat of plaster, finished by another coat of finely polished white priming. The outlines were drawn first in broad sweeps, and details were added afterwards. The two important scenes, one a frieze representing superimposed rows of human figures and another representing a group of elephants of the Chhaddanta gataka scene of cave X bring out the main principles of this phase of painting.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Discuss critically the Painting of cave X at Ajanta.

Published: May 1, 2016 | Modified:October 15, 2020

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