Rock Art Unit

What is Rock Art?
The term ‘rock art’ is generally used for all artistic activities found on rocks and is classified into two main forms: pictographs and petroglyphs. Pictographs refer to painted figures and are also termed rock paintings. Petroglyphs include engravings, carvings, bruisings, dotting and cup-markings.  Pictographs are found on rock shelters while petroglyphs are usually confined to open rocks and boulders.

Rock art is one of the richest cultural resources in the world, which depicts the earliest expressions of human kind. This prehistoric art perhaps comes to signify the underlying philosophies and the worldview of the ancient people and tells us about the soul of a community, its thoughts, beliefs and emotions. It is also associated with cultural values, particularly in countries like India and Australia, where this art is a part of the living cultural heritage of their native populations.  Rock art images can be treated as a source for cultural communication with the past, present and the future.

Why a certain place was selected and then used for generations to produce art?
Some close association of primitive man to a specific place was found where he used to paint or engrave the rock art. Selection of place would have been governed by the basic sustaining needs of a human being like shelters, perennial waters and availability of food resources. He used natural shelters, caves and boulders as his canvas available at that point of time to depict rock art.

What is or was the function of art? Who were the producers of this art?
The primitive/early man used to imitate the activities he would see around like hunting, dancing or a herd of animals in the form of art. He also perhaps used art to gain control over supernatural powers and the hunt/game for their survival. In other ways it can be some method of keeping record of his lifestyle, traditions and beliefs till he developed writing skills. It only shows his creativity and expression of thoughts through art.

What pushes humans to produce art?  What place takes art in human culture?
Creativity in flow of expression and human instinct are the motivating factors that push humans to produce art. Art plays a key role in human culture as it depicts traditions, lifestyle, adaptive features and variation of thoughts as per human brain development and its exposure to the natural world which gets transferred from generation to generation. All the traditional arts are intrinsic to human culture.

How old is rock art?
It started around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago and it is conceptually equivalent to the type of art created in recent centuries, indicating the human cognitive and symbolling activities, were so called modern by that time. The origins of art are therefore much more ancient.

Are there populations in the world without art?
Except Antarctica, rest of the five continents Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North and South America have rock art concentrations.

Are there people wishing to destroy art? Why?
Rock art is being destroyed due to two reasons i.e. natural and human. Stone quarrying, deforestation, human vandalism and lack of awareness about importance of rock art can be seen as main reasons for destroying art.
IGNCA under its program – Adi Drshya (primeval vision of man) has initiated field documentation at national level for preserving rock art sites/data, which otherwise is open to human vandalism and natural factors beyond one’s control. While recognizing the importance of Rock Art for the present generation and posterity, phase wise field documentation has been planned in different states of India with Rock Art concentration.

Can an institution/ individual collaborate with Rock Art Unit for research projects or organizing events?
Yes, collaboration can be done at institution or individual levels depending upon the nature of the proposal.

How do you select experts/ scholars for your research projects? How can one join or participate in your projects? 
The selection of experts or scholars for research projects are done on the basis of their interest, qualification or experience in the Rock Art field. Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) helps in identifying scholars. Interdisciplinary teams are formed in the states for documentation and research etc.
Those already working in the field at the individual level (senior researchers), most of them are IGNCA’s state coordinators. With their consideration, interdisciplinary teams are formed in different states of India. Since there is not a lot of expertise in Rock Art field, interested scholars are encouraged to take up this new discipline very seriously as it is directly related to the primeval vision of man and is perhaps the first creative act of human being.

Can foreign scholars/ institutes contact Rock Art Unit for research collaboration?
Yes, any foreign scholar or institute can contact Rock Art Unit for research collaboration.

Can a scholar access the repository of documentation in Rock Art Unit?
Researchers can access documentation repository of Rock Art Unit with prior appointment and due permission and as per rules of IGNCA.

Can the reports and images available online be used for research or public events like conferences, workshops, lectures etc?
It can be used with prior permission from IGNCA and for the use of material IGNCA should be acknowledged properly.

Does Rock Art Unit collaborate with private organisations for research purposes?   
There is no such collaboration with any private organisation for research purposes as of now.

Does Rock Art Unit have any special programs for schools and colleges?
Yes, we organize Rock Art workshops, special lectures and painting competitions for school children and college students from time to time. For any such upcoming/ongoing program and other information of the project you can check Rock Art Unit section on our website.   

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