Hellenism in Ancient India

By Gauranga Nath Banerjee | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
PAINTING

SECTION I
Indian Painting--Probably of Native Origin--'Indian Fresco-buono'-- Ajanta Caves.

NATURALLY there are no surviving examples of primitive work of this character in India where earth and leaves supply the pigments and materials. We are forced to rely upon inference and literary evidence for anything even as old as the oldest stone-sculptures, at which time equally developed Schools of Painting must also have existed. Painting was one of the sixty-four arts and sciences practised according to the tradition in ancient India. It is frequently referred to in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It may have been known in a primitive form to the Indians before the invasion of Alexander the Great. It is very likely indeed that the foundation of the craft as now surviving in Western India, dates like many other things of Græco-Buddhistic culture, from the time of the spread of Art in the reigns of Maurya Kings and that of the great intellectual stimulus resulting from the contact of the art of Bharut with the more primitive art of which we have scarcely any remains, but which may have existed in ancient India. Thus it is easily understood that owing partly to the destructive influence of a tropical climate acting on materials ordinarily much less durable than stone or metal, and partly to the greater facilities which they offer to the destructive propensities of the Vandal and Philistine, the existing records of pictorial art are much fewer than those of Sculpture.

The oldest Indian pictures, perhaps the most ancient extant specimens of Oriental painting, excepting the Egyptian,

-96-

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