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Updated: Feb 9, 2022

The history of Indian paintings is just about as old as the history of the people of India, shedding light on the cultural and social conceptions. One of the most primitive instances of paintings in India can be traced back to mural paintings. Being the earliest evidence of Indian paintings made on cave walls, the mural art has distinctively preserved its essence all through.

For ages, art has been an influence in shaping up the social and political structure and Mural being one of them has given a thematic impact in transforming the prevailing notions. In modern times, Mural Art became a bridge that connected the racially and ethnically divided society. Mural art has also been painted on multiple tourist attractions to enrich the lost culture and keep it alive.

The word Mural is derived from the word 'Murus' meaning 'Wall'. This basically reflects that Mural art is a painting drawn on the walls to add colors to the surrounding mostly rendering the prehistoric lifestyle. Human exploration in search of food, family life, and their religious practices have been exceptionally delineated through this art and thus bringing forth unknown antiquity.

Mural art apparently came into light during the Upper Paleolithic age. The evidence of such is explicit through the cave paintings in Chauvet Cave in Southern France. Murals were also prevalent during the ancient Egyptian period which is believed to be dated around 3150 BC.

Generally, during the middle age, murals were drawn on dry plaster (fresco secco) and later the wet plaster was reintroduced in Italy which provided a better quality to the paintings. Kerala Murals is one of the finest examples of fresco secco. Natural dyes derived from terracotta, chalk, red ochre, and yellow ochre were used. Outlines were drawn from red ochre highlighted with brown, deep red, or black, and light shades were used to fill in.

As time passed, new techniques evolved. Oil or water-based mediums also came into existence. Nowadays, the photographic image of the murals is being imprinted on the walls giving them a realistic sense.

The earliest Indian murals can be found in the caves of Ajanta, Ellora, Bagh ( Madhya Pradesh), and Sittanavasal ( Tamil Nadu).

Ajanta paintings mainly depict the aspects of Buddhism and the 'Jataka' stories while in Ellora mostly Hindu deities are painted. Ajanta paintings are one of the most renowned fresco paintings which were completed in two phases. The oldest date to the 2nd century BC and the latter phase was around the 5th century A.D. under the Vakatakas who ruled the Deccan. Emotions are expressed through hand postures and the painting of the Dying princess received the most adulation.

Sittanavasal paintings built by Mahendra Verma and his son Narsimha Verman closely resembles the Bagh and Ajanta paintings which gave exuberant and glorious expression to themes relating to Jainism culture, themes, and Symbology.

Undoubtedly, the sublime art of Asia has brought eternal harmony and created a vision of pride for its natives.

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