Rock art research is today a well established discipline in many parts of the world – Asia, Africa, Australia, America and Europe. It is clear that it is important to study in detail this aspect of the cultural heritage of humankind, in specific countries. Increasing interest in this area has also led to a healthy questioning of certain theoretical frameworks that had formed the unquestioned base for most of Rock art research. Today, the old stylistic and other chronologies are being questioned, and there is considerable reliance on studies based on comparative ethnographic data, in the interpretation of Rock art. Equally important is the awareness of the limitations of this research into the past, especially because the subjectivity of the archaeologist’s own viewpoint is a crucial variable. Subjectivity here does not merely refer to the individual, it also points to the cultural biases, say, the Euro-centrism whereby all Rock art traditions were judged, i.e., Palaeolithic art was supposed to have emerged from this geographic region, along with perceived cultural significances and attributes within certain ‘evolutionary’ schemes.
This focus on Europe, along with its chronological eras were then sought to be duplicated in other parts of the world. Of course there was little success in this enterprise. Further, it led to a tremendous neglect of understanding indigenous traditions, their theoretical models and regional temporal distributions. The error is being rectified, and the interest is now shifting, because of this very questioning of older categories and pigeon-holing of Rock art. This paper stresses the point that Rock art may be viewed within certain universal and general artistic traditions of humankind as such, beyond even the new classificatory schemes. For instance, is it not possible to understand and visualise Rock art within wider possibilities, in the sense of a cosmogonic and universal creative act whereby this common cultural heritage provides a link for the contemporary dilemma which faces us today?
The universal nature of Rock art, as a universal phenomenon, is certainly known in the sense of being a cultural manifestation of the past heritage. Many different populations lay claim to this heritage in term of their cultural and political identity. It is also in terms of humankind’s search for its common identity – psychological and biological – which transcends regional identities. In the application of sophisticated techniques, taking into account ecological conditions, archaeological correlates and contexts, the study of Rock art is also a universal phenomenon.
The present paper does not intend to discuss the above stated aspects of universality. Before taking up the issue of Rock art as a universal creative act, it is important to highlight the background of such studies which will show that the use of the word art itself – in Rock art studies – has been limited by specific concepts governed by various cultural connotations, e.g., more by monolithic definitions and the like, rather than by other sensibilities and freedom of expression that may be common to all of humankind. The contemporary image of art as mere aesthetic beauty, in terms of formal qualities – beyond mere utilitarian purposes – is also a limited way of recreating the perception of earlier cultures in the production of the images of art. In short, these ways of seeing art by and large ignores any form of a world vision, i.e., there is little consideration of any cosmic view. This is an ability which all human beings have, irrespective of time and place, that allows one to be in touch with the ‘supernatural’ or the noumenal dimension. This kind of knowledge was widely prevalent amongst nonindustrial traditional societies who had their own way to know, to express and to manifest it as Rock art. One still sees such traditions which continue even until today. It is in this sense that ethnology, myths, beliefs, other traditions throw alternate ways of viewing Rock art – along with the complementarity of archaeological records. But in the modern context of the rapid growth of industrialised urbanised settings even in developing countries, the older traditions are fast vanishing and are being lost, as has happened already in the Euro-American context.
There is, therefore, a general need to reframe the role of archaeology, history and culture in the context of Indian civilization, especially in the light of recent developments in the scientific world which suggests holistic frameworks, i.e., the emphasis must continue to be on indigenous world views. There are historical reasons why this has not been done since far too long have we been following the Euro-centric orientation, if not exactly the colonial goals. In understanding why this has been so requires us to look into certain basic assumptions which were formulated in the European context, beginning with the modern era in the 16-17th century. This is what has greatly influenced research into India’s past and its culture. This was set against a metaphysics and world view which is radically different to the Indian one. It is equally linked to the developments of science and technology during these past 2-3 centuries, conditioning all educational systems, in the colonial world, and the intellectuals – the elite. This is why it becomes important to give thought to some of the important unexamined assumptions which have governed the study of archaeology, culture and history in this subcontinent. It is against this background that we may then be able to formulate holistic approaches to the knowledge of the past, in tune with contemporary scientific developments. These incidentally happen to be supported by Indian civilization’s fundamental metaphysics. This paper emphasises the fact that greater insights will be available into the past if such knowledge is related to our own psyche rather than the European one. This idea may be further eleborated as follows:
The ‘normal’ way, whereby individual, and society perceives, the universe-the historical process of recording human events – it appears as a continuous process, within the framework of time-space coordinates. These events are then located and expressed within specific culture-historical context. Whether the framework be one of a linear arrow of time, or that of a cyclical notion – within which linear time is included – the past, present, and the future are always taken as given, as actualities. These are the recorded memories, orally or otherwise, that form the tradition of events and situations. The distinction between personal and social memories are only operational categories since these arise out of each other in a feedback mechanism. At any rate, it all appears real, as if there is actually a time framework within which all of this did take place.
It is obvious that all such memories are really interpretations and re-interpretations of events and situations, from any contemporary viewpoint. But this simple fact is seldom noted in every day living, and even rare is it to notice that these records and memories are what constitutes time – it is not a separate dimension. In any case, this is how societies and cultures place events – as history or mythology – origins, ancestry and so on within a conceptual chronological order. Similarly, if one notices, one places one’s personal history within the time-framework of bodily existence, e.g., "when I was a child, adolescent, young, middle aged, etc. etc. when this and that happened". It all appears psychologically to be true as if it is happening in time.
From these notions of the study of the past, contemporary problems are examined and future projections made, in terms of the dreams, desires, wants or in terms of the supposedly ‘true’ evidence of previous memories, of ‘pain/pleasure’ notions. Not only are academic programmes subsumed under these notions, the researcher himself as a social entity, as a product of his collective background, happens to function psychologically within his discipline as a fragmentary being not holisticaly. History, anthropology, archaeology and others dealing with society and culture are governed by this fragmentary approach, especially unconscious assumptions that govern one’s life. It is in this context that tradition and culture is studied by intellectuals who today reflect the elite-urban sophisticated groups within the context of certain self-images that arise out of long standing personal and professional histories. At any rate, the basis of all action – activity – is this movement of the location of events in a past-present-future framework, at both the social and psychological level. The movement of time is generally considered external, outside the body-brain mechanism; and, otherwise internally as a narrative dialogue within the mind-brain setup. Of course, the external-internal movement is not only closely linked but is in fact one movement. It is split because of the social system, within the space-time symbolic-semiotic languaging terms that makes up the framework of reference (Malik: 1989). Within an awareness of this holistic framework (which is an issue of introspection, to which we shall return later) it is important to view Indian Civilization as a whole so as not to exclude other variables and dimensions which are available in India.
What is this ‘normal’ way of viewing the past, since it is not the ‘natural’ or obvious one; it is related to a specific historical background to which we turn to below.
I. HISTORIC BACKGROUND OF THE MODERN ERA
In this context of a discussion on a knowledge of the past, it is important to note the specific historical-philosophical climate of Europe during the 16th-17th centuries, within which the Scientific Revolution took place. It is also worthwhile to recall some basic presuppositions, essentially western, which dominate our times, summarised as follows:
a. The Universe
1. A mechanical machine, with no intention or purpose; not an organism having consciousness. In being so, it is indifferent to man – hence it needs to be conquered.
2. It is real to the extent it can be externalised, quantified, measured in terms of mass, dimensions of size, colour, taste, etc., characteristics that are ultimately not real.
3. The internal nature of man is subjective and different to the external which alone can be objective and true.
4. Matter precedes intelligence; the latter must be explained in terms of the former which may be dead though subject to purposeless forces.
5. Time is linear, sequential; and space essentially uniform. Energy is basically the same, not gross or subtle – though it may be more or less in quantity. Time, space and energy are only externally real, and are independent at the level of perceiving consciousness.
6. Importance is given to the causal notion, in terms of the evolution of complexity and intelligence.
1. Man is essentially a rational cognizer, a body with a mind localised in it or an "engine with a will" (Descartes and Behaviourism); he is an atomic being, an individual without any transpersonal spirit.
2. There is no essential hierarchy of being or consciousness among men or within men; even if so, it is irrelevant to knowledge and the organisation of society, governments etc.
3. Man as he is, is an imperfect being, yet the measure of all things.
1. Knowledge is an end in itself, except for the betterment of the estate of man.
2. There is one truth, if it was Christianity once, it is Science now.
3. Subject and Object can be completely separated, i.e., without a need for earlier studying oneself.
4. Reason is the only faculty by which knowledge may be obtained, even experiments are extensions of this faculty. But sensations and feelings are not true perceptions.
5. True knowledge is obtained by proceeding from the parts to the whole.
6. The importance of detaching oneself from the subject of study, rather than by participation and experiencing the object.
7. Reality is a mental construct; knowledge is abstract and general, not a vision or experience of particulars.
8. True knowledge is quantitative, not qualitative – what can be quantified is independent of place and function.
9. True knowledge leads to predictions of what is known, since it is based on external, repeatable perceptions; only that which is externalised is available to true knowledge.
10. The truth and falsity of propositions is self-evident, irrespective of the person who says it.
11. As knowledge has nothing to do with being-ness or consciousness, it is not esoteric, i.e., it requires no moral preparation to be discovered or to be understood.
12. In principle, in the making of actual observations (not in the interpretation of data), the observer can always be replaced by scientific instruments.
13. The dichotomy of faith-knowledge, is perhaps more a consequence of the Scientific Revolution rather than a presupposition that truth and knowledge reside in dimensions different from those in which religious considerations about God, etc. reside.
Thus, modern science and technology – Scientific Revolution – took place within a specific historical-philosophical climate of western Europe during the 16th-17th centuries. These notions continue to dominate contemporary times in general. For example, the main idea of modern science is that of separateness: observer from the observed, man from nature, mind from matter, science from religion, of fundamental particles from each other, of the different parts of an organism from each other; specialisation of different scientific disciplines that led to competition among scientists.
In short, a study of evolution of man, his history and archaeology, could be pursued objectively as if contemporary man was outside this picture. These reductionist explanations continue to be followed in the historical and social sciences. The emphasis is on the localization of causes, since the sole epistemological assumption is one of empirical evidence, i.e., data arising from our physical senses. By the middle of this century these two metaphysical assumptions, of separateness and empiricism, became intrinsic to science. It is against this background that the tremendous developments, and disasters, of the 20th century need to be seen. It was sometimes after World War II, that there was a great deal of assurance for humankind for the practical dimensions of the notion of ‘progress’ on a global scale, equated with high technology.
This notion of linear growth is directly related to the way one viewed past knowledge and studied it, inevitably to support unexamined world views. To reiterate, the study of the past has direct impact on contemporary situations. This is why what archaeologists, anthropologists and historians do is of crucial importance howsoever remote it may appear otherwise. At any rate, the same optimism has not only led to a crisis of confidence but also to unprecedented barbaric inhumanities everywhere. The reason being that the dictates of applied science and technology continue to be governed by an intellectual comprehension of the material world which is viewed as composed of separate objects or particles. Without going into details, it is clear that Western thought has consistently modeled those worldviews which have generated ontological gaps that run across the whole domain of experience. For example, human and other organisms, in spite of the fact that they share the same cosmic niche, are considered to be literally worlds apart.
This dualism is one of the fundamental, often tacit tenets of western metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Dualist conceptions of human beings themselves are rooted in this deep-seated anthropocentrism (Malik: 1989). Archaeological and historical studies continue to function within this outdated paradigm, it must be stressed. This dominant worldview has even assimilated evolutionary theory, by historicising the ontological gap. All-religious or secular-teleological perspectives construe the variety of life forms as the result of a process leading to the advent of humankind. Homo sapiens sapiens is not seen as a stage in an indefinite flux of change, but as an end, the glorious result of a history of trial and error. Is there any difference between this view and that of creationism? The dichotomy between human and nonhumans was frequently extended to other races, often treated as slaves and even women were not exactly placed in the same category as evolved humans – this was especially the case with many 19th century Darwinians. Social differences within Europe itself were classified in this line of thought, the techno-economic models supported by archaeological knowledge which we continue to take for granted (Bouissac: 1991). For example, what is considered universal today usually implies a dominant western world view – whatever way one may define it – and all other categories have to be subsumed within it in the name of universalism. To this one may include the idea of linear time, progress towards a certain state. But this makes these approaches less flexible, as against those cultures which see evolutionary developments in terms of cyclical time wherein catastrophes are part of nature and reality and, further, are encompassed within a larger context.
II. INDIAN VIEW OF CIVILISATION
a. Civilization as a western notion forms the basis of most academic studies, primarily reflecting a culture of cities, of the so called urban sophistication. In the Indian context, the equivalent context is sabhyatå, word derived from sabha etymologically from the earlier meaning of which was ‘shining together’ and the later one meant ‘an assembly of men in harmony’. The harmony of mind, action and speech is an often repeated theme of Vedic prayers, i.e., everything emanates from the centre in the same way as the rta (cosmic order) emanates from the satya (eternal truth). The concept of sabhayatå is so much refinement, as it is an attempt to re-seek the rhythm of existence. This concept of perfect internal harmony pervades not only the idea of the Vedic village (gråma) – the centre holding the circle and vice-a-versa – but also in music, art, aesthetics and even in sciences, astronomy, civil engineering, and so on (Misra: 1971).
A civilized person thus is one who may appear crude in appearance yet is endowed with an understanding of the inherent harmony in things, both sentient as well as non-sentient. In this way, urbanites were subsumed within higher values of cultural growth rather than the peak of growth. This stresses the simultaneous coexistence of many worlds rather than the uniqueness or absolute values given to any one of them. This fundamental way of life, this dynamic rhythm, of the intertwined and seemingly incongruent and divergent manifestations of nature and man are depicted as an integral vision in the apparently repetitious aspect of Indian art, Sanskrit poetry, and so on. Linear time itself is not the driving force behind the creative process; infact, creation did not – and does not – take place within the concept of time.
On the other hand, time and space are in real in the modern context, and achievements of man are landmarks in terms of the arrow of time, evolution, as the apex of the universe from whence the rest of existence is subservient to him. While the Indian view does not reject history, it transcends it, since life and reality are not acts of an irreducible human destiny. Human existence is simultaneously temporal and atemporal, such as is exemplified by exponents of Indian aesthetics. It implies an innate tolerance towards other view points and a ready acceptance, not a repulsion of new ideas. It is in this context that the word itihås – history – means ‘so it has been’ and not ‘so it was’ as is the case with western notions. It makes one both tradition bound as well as free in terms of the obligation to the cosmic being on the one hand and to the ancestors on the other – gods intervening in this dynamic rhythm. There is mutual complimentarity – no opposition; both universal being (nåråyan) and man (nara) depend on each other in a two way movement that reconciles all contradictions and apparent divergences – all reflecting the same Brahman.
This basic two way process, this interaction, is what allows for the dynamic coexistence and interchange, e.g., between Sanskrit, Dravidian and Munda languages; between textual and non-textual traditions; at the margi and desi trends in art, music; at the socio-religious levels of itihås and puråƒas, and so on. Similarly, philosophy as darshan – insight within, without and beyond – governs all laws, physical and mental that come under the Supreme or Truth. This requires sacrifice – to make sacred – self-surrender, which is a continuous process of self-expansion, i.e., man breaks through his egoistic shell to glide into the ocean of infinitude. It is a ceaseless process of give and take. Art, literature, science and technology happen to be the products of this self-expansion, as this is the expression of truth that is beautiful, that is bliss (Bhattacharya: 1971). In short, this worldview reflects a universe which is curvilinear, multi-layered and multi-directional, going back and forth.
b. This does not deny the fact that the phenomenological world was not tackled rationally. There were plausible explanations about the physical world and of understanding human phenomenon without taking recourse to divine explanations. Certain universal cosmic principles were evolved during Vedic times – as must have been the case with the Harappan times as reflected in their material remains – about the cosmos (natural laws or rta) within which even the gods had to function (Malik : 1968, 1975). Later on basic elements of matter with their qualities were also developed, as we learn from the Upanishads in terms of an enquiry into the intelligible reality of the physical world. The early evidence of astronomy, mathematics and life-sciences is a clear indication of this rational way of looking at natural phenomena. Of course, some way along the line this rational attitude was lost, but that requires another study.
It may be recalled that most research, until recently, highlighted elitist or other-worldly nature of Indian civilization within an equilibrium model, ignoring the dynamics of change. One can no longer ignore the set of values as reflected in its literature, arts, scientific manuscripts, etc. which are as detailed and voluminous as the religious and philosophical ones. In short, this modern confrontational viewpoint, singular or monolithic interpretation such as that of only metaphysical and normative texts, will not allow one to adequately provide a realistic view of the lifestyle of this civilization.
If the goal is to search for meaning behind Rock art, in the ways in which it is already being carried out it has failed to do so. This is because so far it has been alienated from the important dimension of the subject of study. It is only when the mechanistic, analytical, evolutionary approaches (which assume that the underlying significance of this kind of activity can be inferred by quantitative methods along, or at best by some intuitive-aesthetic or pseudo-religious approach) are transcended that the complexity and richness of this tradition may provide a glimpse into the underlying philosophies and worldviews in a symbolic way. The process of decoding the total system can only begin in this fashion.
III. ROCK ART QUA ART
Rock art qua art, is an artisitc activity and an act of creativity. It may only be understood by adopting an approach that views the arts as not dissociated from life but integral to it, i.e., experience and creativity are its central concern – be this termed art or non-art in conventional terms. This is a departure from such notions as ‘art for art’s sake’, conflict-confrontationists binary opposites (sacred-secular, high-low, literate-non-literate, urban-rural or tribal, traditional-modern, etc.), structural-functional, uni or multilinear evolutionary models and so on ways of investigations. The paper suggests principles of complementarity, pluralism, concurrency, coexistence, polyvalence and synergy, to view works of art – Rock art – within the framework of the universal category of a creative act. Obviously implying thereby that there are no fundamental qualitative hierarchies amongst the spheres of creativity, often so assessed through the adoption/application of socio-economic yarsticks of ‘development’ and ‘progress’. The concern of artistic manifestation is to focus attention on dynamic interrelationships, towards what one may call integrality as distinct form de-contextualization of artistic manifestation and expression which is also true in the modern context.
While in this sense there is no distinction between what happened in artistic manifestation in ancient times and more recent eras, it does not discard altogether any evolutionary processes, or the archaeological records. But these developments become subsets of larger categories, which even in terms of contemporary scientific notions suggests principles of concurrency, simultaneity and space-time continuum apreference to linear progressive movements. In times when the written word, or thought had not become so specialized, Man was in touch with his various senses towards nature, to the stars and so on, i.e. there was the central role of inner experience, beyond the person and individual, expressed and articulated through non-verbal expressions. Or, there was a balancing of the inner/outer, verbal/nonverbal and the recognition of fuzzy areas, beyond rigid clear cut demarcations, i.e., art was not separated from not only music, dance, etc. but also social and economic (subsistence patterns) life. In other words art as is a creative act involves common core principles that are equally valid for all cultures albeit these may have evolved and are articulated in many different ways sometimes consciously as theoretical artistic/aesthetic concepts, and at others these are covertly discernible in participatory observation. Both of these ways are of equal value, and may be considered as interdependent and interrelated.
Of course, the natural and social environment does shape artistic expression , but the causes of creativity remain unknown. In turn, creative expression effects the natural and human environment. In this way, life-functions, life-cycles, social needs, economic political systems,. mythical world-views and so on are in a symbiotic relationship. This is what, we believe, provides the context or several contexts of art seen as creativity. Art is thus participatory and an individual process, which may or may not be nurtured by the natural environment. Creativity is timeless in this sense, since it springs from a still interiority, a silence that is a form of contemplation – an area from which urban modern man has moved very very far away. Art, in this sense, as a manifestation of the unspoken and authentic experience, invokes, evokes, provokes, stimulates, sustains, disturbs the viewer, i.e., the human social environment.
In short, art may be seen in its forms, manifestations, and products as an integral part of the totality of life-experience at an individual and collective level. Its playful or unpredictable quality is its power, poetry and potency. Artistic activity is correlated and integral to rituals, fairs, worships, beliefs, festivals – a very wide spectrum that includes all the material techniques, etc. etc. Under certain situations, conditions, forms of art reflect a plurality and diversity which also has specific functional context for the artistic products albeit at the same time the aesthetic aspect is often transcultural spatio-temporally. Thus, there are different orders of experience, different levels of functional attributes, formal values and so on of art as such. All this is equally true for Rock art, and valid for it, given the perspective stated above.
However, in view of the above statement, several questions may then arise, if alternate ways of seeing art – Rock-art – is to be taken up, for instance:
a. Is it possible to avoid dichotomies and binary opposites?
b. In the holistic vision, how is one to divide and subdivide for purposes of analysis and classification – can one eschew analytical methodology?
c. How to define art, if one is to cover religio-philosophical-technological and environmental parameters?
d. How to relate to other cultures, to the language and non-language texts, to deal with the problem of translating nonverbal phenomena into verbal essays, without getting into nonlinear narratives?
e. Can one address different levels at the same time, or audiences at once?
f. Is it legitimate to take the non-European, say the Indian view of culture, in applying it to Rock art, as organising principles in general? Is it alright to ignore 20th century categories, since we are ourselves bound by the 20th century; or is the Indian view universalistic in any true sense? If so, what may be the key categories and definitions for our purpose – as the rubric of our discourse?
In order to answer any of these queries, a different approach, as stated above, needs to be adopted to Art as such, outside the rubric of what is ‘modern’. Rock art of course may be approached in a variety of ways; as art-history, psychology and metaphysics, religion, utilitarian and functional, graphic representational motifs of some underlying ‘material’ aspects of social and cultural life, subsistence patterns and so on. But all this is still the fragmentary and partial approach which does not tell us about global and universal phenomenon that art is, since most of all art, today, is not viewed within any notion of a sacred cosmic order from whence arises the Creative Urge, common to all of humanity, beyond place and time. The creativity of art is the silent common language of humankind, just as the silent puppets speak to all irrespective of any particularity. True, sincere and authentic art in this sense speaks of an integral vision, of a world vision which is mystic, mysterious, divine, supernatural and so on. There are words to express that which is not speakable yet which is communicable because it transcends individual man-centred modern aesthetic notions of art. This approach is beyond the questions of what, when, where and why without excluding any of these even if the latter are arbitrary classifications in terms of linearity, stylistic chronologies in a comparative and relative sense, and not in any inherent logical order except the imposition of the present ‘subject’, his beliefs and so on. The creative urge approach has another dynamic and flexible frame of reference since it expresses different kinds of inherent cultural continuities in terms of myths, dreamtimes, and other motifs which exist in all of the species of Homo sapiens. It is like the common geometrical patterns, stylised lines, and so on which like basic rhythm of sound, sight – music and dance – is built into the human being. This is a holistic notion of simultaneity, even in style and form.
But none of this can be understood, apart from an experiential level, when one lives or is in touch with the sacred dimension, and within the desacralised ‘modern’ civilization which has lost lustre and significance since it treats art separate from life and all other activities. This is the decline for modern man in his mental outlook and, therefore, surprises modern man that those ‘primitive’ people could produce art! There is today an excess of emphasis on the external, devoid of the existence of inner feelings which are considered to be private, and therefore there is imitation of nature. This is an indication of disbelief, lack of purpose and ideal, alienation and meaninglessness, because modern notions of art have no prophetic strength. But the message of art, which is perennial in this authenticity is because it is non-material in this sense, its spirit goes on while the body goes away. In this way the inner similarities – moral and spiritual – these internal truths, values coincide within a universal creative act.
|IV. THE INDIAN EXAMPLE
India has the third largest concentration of rock art, after Australia and Africa. Of the over one million motifs, animals are the most frequent, humans come next, and symbols and designs third in their order of occurrence. Various pigments are used, such as haemetite and other oxides of iron to provide colour in red, yellow, orange or brown. There are also a few instances of black and deep purple, obtained from oxides of magnesium (Twentyone colours, for instance, were counted from Bhimbetka; namely, from white, ashy white, creamy white, yellow, yellow ochre, raw sienna, raw umber, orange, dark orange, vermilion, scarlet, light red, dark red, burnt sienna, burnt umber, crimson, dark crimson, purple, chocolate, emerald green and black). Most of these compounds are available in surface deposits, found at a close distance from the paintings. Unlike in some parts of the world, there is little in India by way of living tradition of painting on rock surfaces. But the fundamental art tradition persists by way of contemporary `folk’ and `tribal’ in oral ways, such as amongst the Warlis, Santhals, the Gonds and so on. In short, Rock art may be seen as a part of living traditions, in terms of local histories and in the understanding of the psychology and history of humankind. It is the universality of the medium and the message within this global creative urge that holistic thinking and alternate methodologies may emerge.
By way of illustration, in a generalised manner, the alternative may be in this manner – a psychological-metaphysical one where symbols and signs are decoded as Jungian archetypes, the designs as MaƒŒalas and so on, arising out of common universal collective consciousness. The importance is given to symbolic imagery, of inner feelings and sympathy, outward similarity being incidental. The single line drawings are representation of sophistication, and the paintings in their simplicity are not arising out of untrained `naturalism’. This simplicity reflects a freshness of a child-like – not childish – vision, unencumbered by many associations and interests. In this expression of the movement of dynamism, the observer selects what is essential. Similar drawings are made and compared in terms of pre-and-post meditational states that create same patterns, archetypes and MaƒŒalas, (Kandinsky: 1977, Malik: 1994, 1995).
At a deeper level art is the mother of all our emotions, and every work of art is the child of its age. It unites all our senses – sound, sight, touch, smell are interwoven into each other. Painting – art – represents not a visual harmony but colours are expressions of music and sound harmony. Colours, as is well known trigger off a spirit of sound, say red, blue, green and so on. These colours have psychic effects, and even of religious and spiritual vibrations, viz. red is anger, fear, green is jealousy, blue is peaceful and so on; different combinations.
Paintings are thus symphonies of not only colours, but sound, taste, smell, feelings of warm, cold, lightness, darkness. These works also have the dimensions of horizontality, verticality, and so on. In other words, there is a grammar of painting which may be deciphered, say, in terms of
(1) musical movement,
(2) pictorial movement in terms of melodic principles,
(3) physical movement, (4) spiritual movement of triangle, circles, etc., and
(5) mysterious and secret manifestations of the unknown. Traditional art, as opposed to modern art which is extensive and informal, generally has certain qualities, such as it is
(1) formal, intensive laborious formality,
(2) repetition and concentration,
(3) element of faith and obedience and .
(4) there is respect and reverence. Painting thus may be seen as a combination of a composition like music which is
(1) melodic and simple,
(2) symphonic and complex, and so on.
The following figures (Fig I, II, III), taken from Kandinsky (ibid), illustrate well the idea being conveyed here and this has been elaborated by many others. These are areas which archaeologists and anthropologists, who mainly try to interpret Rock art may explore the possibilities of seeing Rock art in the light of the Universal Creative Act.
A million years ago Homo sapiens sapiens emerged from the Australopithecines, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and so on. However, there is little evidence that there has been any major evolutionary changes in the brain structure of Homo sapiens, or that intelligence has evolved from the `primitive’ to the `modern’ in Homo sapiens.
|First Pair of antitheses A & B||(Inner appeal acting on the spirit)|
|= First antithesis|
|Two movements: (i) horizontal|
|Towards the spectator (Bodily)||Away from the spectator|
Yellow and Blue
|B||Light||Dark||= Second antithesis|
|Two movements:||(i) discordant|
|Eternal discord, but with possibilities for the future (birth)||White||Black||Absolute discord, devoid of possibilities for the future (death)|
|(II) ex-and concentric, as in case of yellow and blue, but more rigid
|Second Pair of antitheses C and D||(Physical appeal of complementary colours)|
|C.||Red Movement||Green||= Third antithesis of the spiritually extinguished First antithesis|
|Motion within itself||
|= Potentiality of motion
|Ex- and concentric movements are absent in optical blend||= Grey|
|In mechanical blend of white and black||= Grey|
|D.||Orance||Violet||= Fourth antithesis|
|Arise out of the first antithesis from :|
|1. Active element ofthe yellow in red||= Orange|
|2. Passive element of the blue in red||= Violet|
The antitheses as a circle between two poles, i.e., the life of colours between birth and death.
(The capital letters designate the pairs of antitheses.)