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Day 76 – Q 4. What information of about the contemporary society is provided by Ajanta Paintings?

4. What information of about the contemporary society is provided by Ajanta Paintings?


Ajanta Paintings are located in Ajanta caves (UNESCO World Heritage site) which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 CE in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. These paintings are described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art, that present emotion through gesture, pose and form. The paintings are in “dry fresco”, painted on top of a dry plaster surface rather than into wet plaster.

According to UNESCO, these are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that influenced the Indian art that followed. The paintings in the Ajanta caves predominantly narrate the Jataka tales describing the previous births of the Buddha.


The Ajanta cave paintings are a window into the culture, society and religiosity of the native population of India between the 2nd century BCE and 5th century CE.

  • The dress, the jewellery, the gender relations, the social activities depicted showcase at least a lifestyle of the royalty and elite and in others definitely the costumes of the common man, monks and rishi depicted therein.
  • The Ajanta Caves were built in a period when both the Buddha and the Hindu gods were simultaneously revered in Indian culture. These paintings show about the unity of religions followed at that time; not only the Ajanta Caves but other nearby cave temples were sponsored and built by Hindus as evidenced by inscriptions wherein the role as well as the Hindu heritage of the donor is proudly proclaimed.
  • The Ajanta artworks provide a contrast between the spiritual life of monks who had given up all materialistic possessions versus the sensual life of those it considered materialistic, luxurious, symbols of wealth, leisurely and high fashion.
  • These paintings are a significant source of socio-economic information in ancient India, particularly in relation to the interactions of India with foreign cultures. Some connections with the art of Gandhara can also be noted.
  • Depiction of trade in murals suggests that it was economically important enough to the Deccan region that the artists chose to include it with precision.
  • Additional evidence of international trade includes the use of the blue lapis lazuli pigment to depict foreigners in the Ajanta paintings, which must have been imported from Afghanistan or Iran.
  • Survival of these paintings for so long depicts the advancements that have been made in the art formation using long lasting colors.


The rediscovery of ancient Indian paintings at Ajanta provided Indian artists examples from ancient India to follow and helped to throw some light on the life of people during those times. Nandalal Bose experimented with techniques to follow the ancient style which allowed him to develop his unique style. Abanindranath Tagore and Syed Thajudeen also used the Ajanta paintings for inspiration.

Best answer: Ramendra

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