Bhimbetka Caves: Ancient art ever recorded!
Human evolution is a complex way to understand the origin of humans that dates back almost four million years ago. And when we talk about ancient human art the theory becomes even more complex. The oldest ancient art ever found was in Blombos cave of Africa, it contains two pieces of ochre rock engraved with geometric abstract symbols and a series of beads made from Nassarius kraussianus shells. It is said to date around 70,000 BC. However, a new discovery made in Madhya Pradesh region of India, the Bhimbetka caves has an art which dates four time back then the Blombos Cave! Which means even before the Indus Valley Civilization. The Bhimbetka caves and Daraki Chattan Cupoles records the oldest prehistoric art ever discovered.
Bhimbetka: the ancient art form
Madhya Pradesh is an underrated place when it comes to tourism and travel. Any why not? It doesn’t have any spectacular beaches or magnificent forts, instead it is a home to some of the country’s most incredible caves. Not just for its large stones but for the art form that dates back thousands of years ago! Almost 45 kilometers away from the city of Bhopal, stand tall the caves of Bhimbetka. The Bhimbetka caves of Madhya Pradesh holds the oldest art paintings known to human race. Legend say Bhimbetka was the resting place of Pandava king Bhima (one of the son of queen Kunti) of Hindu epic Mahabharata. These caves were first discovered by VS Wakankar in 1957 while travelling through the area when he discovered some unique patterns on the stones. Later, he visited the area along with a team of archaeologists and was shocked seeing several prehistoric rock, hundreds of such rocks were discovered out of which only 15 are open for public viewing as of now. Out of all 750 rock shelters discovered, 500 are adorned with paintings and sculptures. Years ago these dusty broken caves of Bhimbetka was home to several ancient man who use to take shelter there and painted the walls of these caves. The overlapping pattern of these paintings suggest that not one nor two instead many generation have found their home in the caves, like from the Upper Paleolithic, through the Mesolithic and Chalcolithic periods, till the the early historic to the very recent Medieval era! These paintings can be classified into seven different periods. One thing that make these paintings stand out is it engraved manner, there paintings where made from ancient methods of using dyes, pigments, animal blood and the rock solid weapons they used. That’s the major reason why the paintings still stand undamaged past so many centuries. However it’s an absolute magic how they were never subjected to erosion!
The paintings found in Bhimbetka here have a striking resemblance to the ones discovered long back in Kakadu National Park located in Australia to the cave paintings of Bushmen in Kalahari Desert and Upper Palaeolithic Lascaux cave paintings of France! This provides the archaeologists and researchers a perspective of how the Human race who lived in these rock shelters progressed. These paintings are mostly of ancient animals who were at the time were as taller as man, then there are paintings of Homo Sapiens there festivals and culture which helps one trace back how our ancestors actually evolved. They recorded scenes of their everyday lives such as cooking, hunting and eating by only using Red and white colour with occasionally using yellow and green. In fact, it is these rocks that witnessed the first ever form of human expressions. Surrounding by dense forest, the flora and Fauna around these caves are indeed a gift to us from our ancestors.
How the paintings survived all these centuries is remarkable. Some of the archaeologists suggest that cave artists made these paintings by colored earth, vegetable dyes, roots and animal fat, however these speculation has been criticized as doubtful. The ancient cave people used the pieces of fibrous plants for making brushes. Because of the natural red and white colours these artists used which further reacted to the oxide present of the rock surface, the colors have been outstandingly well preserved.
Learning about the ancient history, human evolution and human expressions can be a fascinating thing when it comes to visiting the unexplored gems of the country. India, a country whose netizens suggest it as an ‘Incredible India’ is indeed incredible as it holds several stories that still remains intact in the heart of the country. Many times we lose chances of treating our eyes by opting for places that seems to be fascinating from outside but doesn’t really holds anything great inside. It is time for us to now go for the places that not only entertain us but also amaze us in many ways by the knowledge followed and Bhimbetka caves of India is among one such place.