The Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

Ancient Art: The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (November 10 Night Thread)

Welcome to night two of my investigation into prehistoric art!

The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka

The Bhimbetka Rock Shelter

The Indus Valley is one of the cradles of civilization, at least a hundred thousand years old by some accounts. The earliest cave paintings are claimed to be at least thirty thousand years old.

A little south-east of Bhopal in modern-day India is where the rock shelters of Bhimbetka are nestled, in the foothills of the Vindhyan mountains. Translated into English, the name means roughly “Bhim’s Resting Place,” from the character in the ancient Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata, not the mobile payment app.

The cave complex, numbering into the hundreds, were research in 1957 by the archaeologist Dr Vishnu Wakankar. The earliest art they contain has been reported to be at least twelve thousand years old, a document in stone of how civilization in India grew and changed.

For countless generations these cave walls were a static art gallery revisited by each new generation. Paintings have been made one atop another, charting the evolution of drawing style as artists saw the creations of their ancestors and added their own.

Bison, tigers and rhinoceroses are like ghosts painted in black, green, and red. Spears and bows and arrows start to appear as hunting skills are learned and refined. Inevitably, tribal warfare is eventually depicted. Musical instruments, mothers and children, and religious figures are also shown, as elements of movement and perspective are introduced into the paintings as the artists grew more sophisticated.

Have a great night everyone, and take care of yourselves!