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Rock Art: How much do we know?

Rock Art is the earliest expression of art in man.  In the recent decades, it has developed into an important area of study, to understand the early man.  This subject comes under the broad area of lifestyle studies.  IGNCA has a division Janapada Sampada, devoted to lifestyle studies.  The Centre has published five books and a CD-ROM on Rock Art.  Following is a brief description of each of them.

Rock Art In The Old World Edited by Michale Lorblanchet: This is the first publication in the rock art series.  It consists of selected papers from the World Congress of Rock Art held in Darwin in 1988.  The papers presented in this volume are convincing proof of the importance of the study of rock art, both for archaeology as also ethnology and life-style studies.  The vast spectrum shows that although there has been a history of research on rock art, as a young discipline it is exploring various avenues of growth.  Several of the papers indicate the extensive research carried out in India.

Deer In Rock Art Of India And Europe Edited by Giacamo Camuri, Angelo Ossati & Yashodhar Mathpal: This book provides an overview of deer in the rock art of India and Europe and its representation through the historic period.  In the Indian section valuable evidence from several sites has been provided.  A glimpse of a deep and sensitive understanding of the deer in the man's life and nature as well as in the Indian literary tradition has been presented.  The European section reveals the geographical extent of the various species of deer, besides the myths, legends and fables constructed around its presence.

Rock Art In Kumaon Himalaya By Yashodhar Mathpal: brings into focus facets of pre-historic rock art of Kumaon Himalayan area, comparatively unknown.  The materials incorporated in this volume are quite distinctive and definitely new.  The rock paintings as noticed in this area show the man and nature relationships in a simplistic representation.  The most interesting paintings found in Kumaon region are the dancing scenes, which are in large varieties followed by drum-beating figures, hunters and others.

The author discusses the subject matter, the technique, the style and the state of preservation of rock art of the region along with artistic merit and motivation of the artist of pre-historic time in a simple language.  The illustrations incorporated are the watercolour reproductions done by the author in the field itself.  This book also gives an overview of rock art research as a whole and its present state in India and abroad.

Rock Art In Kerala By Yashodhar Mathpal: is based on a thorough survey of painted shelters of Kerala, the southern most region of India.  Rock art samples from Kerala are unique.  The book brings to light a distinct style in rock art tradition, especially in terms of engraved geometric motifs.

Conservation Of Rock Art  Edited by B.L. Malla: This monograph is an outcome of the papers presented in a seminar on the preservation and conservation of rock art held in IGNCA, New Delhi In February, 1996.  It concentrates for the first time on India.  It takes into account crucial matters related to conservation hazards, interventionist practices, conservation techniques, long term planning for preservation of rock art and the cultural dimension of rock art.  The book is of great help to specialists and public in general.  (Review of this book appears in page 18 of this issue).

CD ROM On Rock Art  (for more details click here)

This offers approximately 300 annotated photographs.  It has more than 20 minutes of video.  The material covers some of the largest concentration of rock art sites in India, including Madhya Pradesh, south-eastern Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.  The CD has been produced by the Cultural Informatics Lab of IGNCA and is available for sale.

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