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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 744Book's First Page
AJANTA The Ajanta Caves carved out of volcanic rock in the Maharashtra plateau was not far off from the ancient trade routes and attracted traders and pilgrims through whom the Ajanta art style diffused as far as China and Japan. The Buddhist monks employed artists who turned the stone walls into picture books of Buddha"s life and teachings. These artists have portrayed the costumes, ornaments and styles of the court life of their times. The artists applied mud plaster in two coats — the first was rough to fill in the pores of the rocks and then a final coat of lime plaster over it. The painting was done in stages. They drew the outline in red ochre, then applied the colours and renewed the contours in brown, deep red or black. The attenuated poses, supple limbs, artistic features, a great variety of hair styles, all kinds of ornaments and jewellery indicate skilled artisans. In a mural in Cave 10, some 50 elephants are painted in different poses bringing out the skill of the artist in handling these bulky forms in all perspective views, with erected tails and raised trunks, depicting sensed danger. The styles of the later murals reveal a merging of two streams of art; Satavahana of Andhra and Gupta of North India. This resulted in the classical style which had a far reaching influence on all the paintings of the country for centuries to come. A high degree of craftsmanship incorporating all the rules laid down by ancient Indian treatises on painting and aesthetics are evident. One cannot but notice the fluid, yet firm lines, long sweeping brush strokes, outlining graceful contours, subtle gradation of the same colour, highlighting nose, eyelids, lips and chin making the figures emerge from the flat wall surface. Animals, birds, trees, flowers, architecture are pictured with an eye to their beauty of form. Human emotions and character are depicted with great understanding and skill–indignation, greed, love and compassion.