- The subjects of their drawings were human figures, human activities, geometric designs and symbols.
- In India the earliest paintings have been reported from the Upper Palaeolithic times.
- Humans are represented in stick-like forms.
- A long-snouted animal, a fox and a multiple legged lizard are the main animal motifs.
- Wavy lines, rectangle-filled geometric designs, and groups of dots can also be seen here
- The largest pre-historic paintings discovered in India belongs to the Mesolithic period.
- Used minerals for pigments Eg: ochre or geru.
- They used minerals in different colours.
- Examples: Bhimbetka caves, MP; Jogimara caves, Chattisgarh; Narsingarh, MP
- Murals are works that are painted on the walls or a solid structure.
- The wall paintings in India have existed from the 2nd century BC to Medieval times.
- Some of the places where this painting is found include- Ajanta, Bagh, Sittanavasal, Armamalai cave, Ravan Chhaya rock-shelter and Kailashnath temple in Ellora caves.
- Majority of the themes in these paintings relates to religion- Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.
- The subject matter of these paintings is almost exclusively Buddhist, excepting decorative patterns on the ceilings and the pillars.
- They are mostly associated with the Jataka, collection of stories, recording the previous births of the Lord Buddha.
- The painting of Bodhisattva Padmapani from cave I is one of the masterpieces of Ajanta Painting executed in the late 6th century CE.
- Medium of Paintings: Mineral and vegetable dyes.
- The paintings depict human values and social fabric, as well as period styles, clothes, and accessories.
Bagh Cave paintings
- The paintings from Bagh caves in Madhya Pradesh in terms of design, execution, and ornamentation, are an extension of the Ajanta school.
- The earliest Brahmanical paintings so far known, are the fragments found in Badami caves, in cave No.III belonging to circa 6th century A.D.
- The painting of Siva and Parvati is found somewhat well preserved.
- Rang Mahal, Cave No. 4, features exquisite murals on the walls illustrating Buddhist and Jataka tales, similar to those found in Ajanta.
- A number of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples were excavated from Ellora between the 8th and 10th centuries A.D.
- Located nearly 100 Kms away from Ajanta caves in the Sahyadri ranges of Maharashtra, it is a group of 34 caves – 17 Brahmanical, 12 Buddhist and 5 Jain.
- The most impressive of these, the Kailashnath Temple is a free standing structure which is in fact a monolith which has several fragments of painting on the ceiling of the different parts of this temple.
- It was developed under the patronage of Rashtrakuta king Krishna I and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- Cave No. 10 is a Buddhist Chaitya cave known as Vishwakarma Cave or carpenter’s cave wherein Buddha is seated in Vyakhyana Mudra here and Bodhi tree is carved at his back.
Badami cave paintings
- Badami was the capital of the early Chalukyan dynasty which ruled the region from 543 to 598 CE.
- The inscription in Cave No.4 mentions the date 578–579 CE, describes the beauty of the cave and includes the dedication of the image of Vishnu.
- The paintings found here are stylistically similar to the ones found in Ajanta.
- The paintings at Tiruparakunram, near Trichy, done in the fourteenth century represent the early phase of the Vijayanagara style.
- In Hampi, the Virupaksha temple has paintings on the ceiling of its mandapa narrating events from dynastic history and episodes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
- Lines become still but fluid, compositions appear in rectilinear compartments.
- Kerala painters (during the period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century) evolved a pictorial language and technique of their own while discriminately adopting certain stylistic elements from Nayaka and Vijayanagara schools.
- More than sixty sites have been found with mural paintings which include three palaces—Dutch palace in Kochi, Krishnapuram palace in Kayamkulam and Padmanabhapuram palace.