The earliest Indic
art is preserved on rocks in the paleolithic, mesolithic and neolithic stages (40000
B.C.E. onwards) and the seals and the sculpture of the Indus-Sarasvati phase which lasted
from about 8000 B.C.E. to 1900 B.C.E. According to Wakankar, the beginnings of the rock
art have been traced to 40,000 years BP (before present) in the decorated ostrich
eggshells from Rajasthan, dated using radiocarbon techniques. Subsequent phases have been
determined using evolution of style and other radiocarbon dates. The mesolithic period has
been dated as 12000 to 6000 BP.
It has been found
that there is significant continuity of motif in the rock art and the later
Indus-Sarasvati civilization indicating an unbroken link with the paleolithic and the
mesolithic cultures of India.
We see tessellations in the ancient rock art of India. It has been
argued that these designs occur at the lowest stratum of the rock paintings and if that is
accepted they belong to the upper paleolithic period. These designs are unique to India in
the ancient world. Tyagi has suggested that they may represent a ``trance experience.''
The basic feature of these tessellations is infinite repetition.
This repetition may occur for a basic pattern or, more abstractly, the lines extend
spatially in a manner so that a basic pattern is repeated in two directions. An
understanding of this abstract concept must have been a part of the thought system of the
artists. This is another continuity with the central place of the notion of infinite in
later Indian thought.
The abstract and the iconic elements in Indian rock art are
different from the more naturalistic ancient European cave paintings. There is also
difference in the nature of the community and state in the Western and the Indian
civilizations in the earliest urban phase. The West has monumental temples, tombs, palaces
whereas the society in India appears to have been governed by a sacred order.
Source: T.R.N. Rao and S. Kak Computing
Science in Ancient India USL Press, Lafayette 1998.
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