Cave paintings of Mesolithic and Chalcolithic

Cave paintings of Mesolithic and Chalcolithic

Question:-The theme of cave paintings of the Mesolithic and Chalcolithic periods depicts more animal figures than humans. What could be the significance of animal figures. Explain with the features of the two cave paintings.

- Cave paintings in India have been immensely important for reconstructing prehistory, a time when writing was not invented and a sedentary lifestyle was yet to be adopted. The paintings of the megalithic and chalcolithic periods have been helpful in throwing light on the culture and lifestyle of these two periods.

- These paintings are useful in understanding the dietary habits, the socio cultural practices and getting a quick picture of the flora and fauna of the time.

- The theme of paintings primarily revolved around social activities like hunting and other group activities. Characteristic features are mentioned below.

Mesolithic paintings:

- Compared to the palaeolithic paintings, themes of mesolithic paintings are smaller in size where the hunting scenes dominant but community dances too were common.

- Animal paintings were done in a naturalistic style while humans were in a stylized manner.

- Hand-prints, fist-prints and fingertips too were elaborately used to decorate the walls of the cave.

- Majority of the paintings though depict a herd of animals or a gathering of people showing the importance of community or group activities. Studies reveal that these people relied on numbers and solitary living was more of danger from animals.

- Colors used in the paintings were all based on accessible resources from which colors could be extracted. They used black, white, red ochre etc.

Chalcolithic Paintings:

- The paintings of this period showed an interaction between cave dwellers with settled agricultural communities.

- Motifs like cross-hatched squares and lattices along with pottery and metals is seen depicted.

- Colors like white and red were used more than any other.

More of animal figures were depicted for probably number of reasons. The juxtaposition of animals against humans may have different implications.

- The paintings could have served as warnings for other groups. They possibly were also useful in educating the younger generation of the dangers these animals posed and how they could be hunted since that was the main source of food since agriculture was not practiced then.

- The constant threat of animals was kept at bay by the dwelling caves. However, the depictions of animal attacks on humans served as a reminder of how powerful their prospective pry was. Hunting was an important activity that required efforts which is why they probably wished to preserve memories, thus the hunting scenes.

- The paintings also show the recognition of the people for their surrounding fauna and nature they came across. The ability to transfer it on cave walls was probably a new found past time that wasn’t realized before.

- The choice to depict majority of animals shows the artists appreciation for their subject.
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