Painting flourished in India since ancient times. The history of ancient cave art paintings can be known from primitive rock paintings of Bhimbetka, Mirzapur, and Panchmarhi. These paintings were influenced by contemporary movements like religious movements. Main ancient religious movements include Buddhism, Jainism, and Brahmanism.
Influence of contemporary religious movements
- The common themes of Ajanta paintings are Jataka stories about the life of Buddha, Paintings of various Bodhisattvas.
- The paintings of Ellora are related to all three religions (Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism).
- The beautiful colorful Armamalai Cave paintings on the walls and roof depict the tales of Astathik Palakas (deities protecting eight corners) and Jainism.
- Sittanavasal Cave (Arivar Koil) Paintings are known for paintings based on Jainism.
- The paintings are with the theme of Jain Samavasarana (Preaching hall).
Influence of nonreligious things
- The Bhimbetka paintings generally portray the everyday life of prehistoric men often in stick-like human figures.
- One of the most common scenes depicted in stone age paintings is of group hunting and several other paintings depict grazing activity and riding scenes.
- Chalcolithic paintings of Narsinghgarh in Madhya Pradesh have paintings showing skins of spotted deer left for drying.
- Ravan Chhaya Rock Shelter located in the Keonjhar district of Odisha has the most noticeable painting of a royal procession that dates back to the 7th century AD.
Based on the above facts, it is clear that ancient cave art paintings were not only influenced by contemporary religious movements but also by non-religious elements.