Art Traditions of Eastern Rajasthan (a Study of Art & Architecture Up to 12th Century) Essay

ART TRADITIONS OF EASTERN RAJASTHAN (A Study of Art & Architecture up to 12th Century) In the history of mankind Rajasthan has a very important place. The beginning of human history of Rajasthan goes back to as early as the period of the Stone Age. Eastern Rajasthan which comprises mainly Bharatpur, Dholpur, Alwar, Dausa, Jaipur, Tonk and Karauli districts, has special place in the history of mankind. It has one of the oldest geological formations[1] and archeological excavations at different places in the Eastern Rajasthan have given ample evidences of the presence of Stone Age Culture.

Since the later half of the 19th century when Carllyle[2] and Hackett[3] discovered some Paleolithic objects from Dausa and Jaipur district, a number of sites have been discovered in the entire region, of which Harsora, Bhangarh, Bairat (in Alwar) and Moti Dungri, Behari Pura, Jhir (in Jaipur ) are most important. Stone Age to state formation Eastern Rajasthan has shown the continuity in historical periods. Immediately after the Stone Age Chalcolithic and O. C. P. (Ochre Colour Pottery ) culture has been found in the region.

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The exploration and excavation at Nandlalpura (Jaipur), Jodhpura (Jaipur), Noh (Bharatpur) have clearly proved the existence of O. C. P. culture. Recent excavations at Noh have revealed the existence of five cultural periods of ceramic industry viz-. I. OCP II. B&R (it is distinctly different from the Black & Red Ware of Ahad culture) III. P. G. W. (Painted Grey Ware),IV. N. B. P. W. (Northern Black Polished) and V. Shung – Kushan Period. Likewise Bairat has also proved a site of culture continuity from Stone Age to historical period. [4]

The area which is now known as Eastern Rajasthan was known as ‘Matsya-Janapad’ in ancient period. ‘Matsya’ as a tribe has been mentioned in Rigved along with other Aryan tribes. [5] Gopath and Kaushitki Upanishads also give references of Matsya. In the Buddhist Era or at the time of 1st state Formation in Indian sub-continent this region was included in “Shodash Mahajanpad” as ‘Matsya Sangh’. We find various references of this region in ancient religious texts. ‘Manusmriti’ refers to the Matsya region as a part of “Bharamarishi Desa”.

Regarding the extent of the Matsya settlement Rai Choudhari points out that it lies to the South of Kurus of Delhi and the west of the Surasena of Mathura, Southwards it approaches the Chambal while westward it reaches to the forest skirting the river Saraswati. [6]To be more exact it thus comprises the modern Eastern Rajasthan from Dholpur to Jaipur and from Alwar to Karauli. Mahabharat also refers to Matsya as most respectable tribe of Kshatriyas. According to Mahabharat the Pandavas also spent 13th year of their exile incognito at Virat which was the capital city of Matsya Janpad, now better known as Bairat.

In the Mahajanpath period there are very clear evidences of existence of Matsya as Janpad. Both Buddhist and Jain canons include Matsya in the list of sixteen Mahajanpad. The discovery of Minor Rock Edict of Ashok at Bairat goes to prove that this region was included in Mauryan Empire. At that time it was also a major Buddhist centre – proven by excavated temple and Vihar in the hilly areas of Bairat. The disintegration of Mauryan Empire was followed by the foreign invasions. It seems that this region was also affected by these invasions.

A small jar containing 36 coins of Indo-Greek, discovered at Bairat further lead to the conclusion that the region formed part of the Indo-Greek domination. It is further confirmed by the discovery of Mitra coins from Rairh which is situated in modern Tonk. After the end of the Indo-Greek invasion in the closing years of 1st century B. C. the rule of Tribal Republics such as Yaudheyas, Arjunayans and to some extent Malvas appears to have emerged in the area. It is further corroborated by the inscription of the Yaudheyas at Vijaygarh near Bayana.

Also the Allahabad inscription of Samudragupta mentioned Arjunayan, Yaudheyas and Malvas among the people on the frontier of Gupta Empire. The close proximity of the region with Gupta Empire is further established by the chance discovery of the largest hoard of Gupta coins near Bayana. It seems that in the wake of Hun invasion some part of Eastern Rajasthan had come into the political control of Huns. Although Hun influence was short lived in this region but a number of sites of Eastern Rajasthan are full of numismatic evidences of their presence. At Abhaneri, Sambhar and at various places the copper coins of Torman have been discovered.

It seems that from the second half of the sixth century Gurjars came into prominence in Eastern Rajasthan. According to seventh century Chinese traveler Hieun-Tsang this region fell within the ancient Gurjartra of Gurjar country. Further the Gwalior inscription of Pratihars established it beyond doubt that the Matsya and the adjoining area was the part of the Pratihar kingdom. More or less the influence and impact of the Pratihars remained till the close of twelfth century. That influence is clearly shown in the art traditions of early medieval Rajasthan. The art Tradition

Eastern Rajasthan has been a center of cultural assimilation and a witness of experience of cultural crosscurrents since earliest time. The area has very rich art traditions that can be traced back to the pre-historic Age. From the Alwar- Jaipur region as many as 250 caves have been discovered with Stone Age paintings, in which Bainswal and Jaisinghpur is most prominent. [7] Right from the early Iron Age or Mahajanpad period a rich tradition of terracotta figurines depicting religious and day to day life mottos have been discovered from this region. The aesthetic and artistic sense of people is also evident from their pottery.

From Bairat and Noh a large number of PGW ware have been found with geometrical and artistic depictions. [8] Furthermore NBPW is itself an art object which has been found at Bairat, Noh, Kama, Jodhpura etc. Most of this pottery also carries various geometrical patterns and some time even human and animal figures. In early Christian era the entire region witnessed a proliferation of the art of making terracotta figurines. Various terracotta plaques depicting Yakashi, Yaksh, Mother Goddess and Pauranic Deities have been found from various sites particularly Naliasar, Rairh, Nagar, Noh etc.

The women used jewellery of various types is evident from the study of a terracotta plaques depicting mother goddess, which used bangles, bracelets, anklets etc. It is evident that ornament making was an art in early Rajasthan. These figures also throw some light upon social, religious and political life of the region. For example the Gupta influence is clearly shown in the Nalisar Terracotta figurines where Mahishasurmardini and other figurines have been found. This influence can be traced even in the South-East Rajasthan, where sites like Durra have number of terracotta figurines which show the influence of Gupta art.

The next stage of aesthetic expression is reflected in stone art. The earliest specimen of stone art which is found in this region belongs to Mauryan period. A large number of objects with typical Maurayan polish are in the collection of Bairath museum. The stone art further developed with the influence of Kushana. The most important epitome of this influence is ‘Jakha- Baba’. This larger than life-size (9 ft. ) tall statue has been found at ‘Noh’ in Bharatpur. It is still considered as a deity among local inhabitants.

In the close vicinity of the ‘Jakha-Baba’ another stone statue has been recovered which is identified as ‘Kartikeya’. Because of nearness to Mathura which was the center of artistic activities of Kushana, Bharatpur had major influence of Kushana Art. Further the plastic art developed in Gupta age. A large number of sculptures have been found which clearly show the influence of Gupta art. In Bharatpur, it seems Kama and Katara were the main center of artistic activities in this period. The sculpture depicting Shaiva and Vaishnava themes have been found here and most of them are placed in a Museum at Ajmer.

The tradition of sculpture art further developed in Prathihara period which can be seen in the panels of Abhaneri, Neelkanth and Kama Temple. Architecture Like art, architecture too is hand-maid of religion in India. Most of the architectural remains are associated either with Hindu, Jain or Budhhist traditions. In Eastern Rajasthan the earliest discovered structure is a Buddhist temple which has been excavated at Bairath. In early Christian era the entire region witnessed a robust growth in architectural activities. From Nagar (Tonk), Rairh (Tonk) and Naliasar-Sambhar (Jaipur) many secular structures have been unearthed.

Most of them, particularly from Naliasar-Sambhar were more than one story which is revealed by the presence of staircases in dilapidated structures. It is very interesting to know that almost all the non-religious building were constructed on the usual form of open central courtyard, surrounded with rooms which is still a prevailing system in the residential houses of rural areas of this region. The example of religious architecture are found in abundance. Moreover Dausa, Alwar, Bharatpur have large number of sites having temples related to later Gupta and Prathiphara period.

In Alwar, Paranagar is a site which can be compared with Osia of Jodhpur. Like Osia, ,Paranagar has many temples in close vicinity besides the major one known as Neelkanth or Shiv temple. In Dausa, near Bandikui the Harshat Mata temple of Abhaneri is a structure of national importance. The temple is in dilapidated condition and its ruins have been assigned to eighth – ninth century. The main attraction of the temple is its panel on which scenes of love, music and dance are depicted. On the outskirts of Dausa another architectural remains of Prathihara period has been discovered which is known as Narayani Mata temple.

Problem to be investigated Geographically and historically eastern Rajasthan makes a singular entity. It is moreover a part of northern Indian plain rather than Maru Pradesh. In ancient time Matsya region was known for its rich livestock that again reconfirmed its closeness with Brij-Bhoomi. Historically this entire area retained its political identity as Matsya State till early Medieval period. It is an area which culturally and historically is in close proximity with South-Western U. P. and has immense impact of U. P. on the art, tradition, language, religious activities etc.

Although stray attempts have been made to study the art of this region, which mainly covers only a single site, temple or monument, but so far no comprehensive study of this region has been done. No scholar has so far taken this region as a single cultural -historical entity. Thus till date it has not been established that whether this region was following some common beliefs, aesthetic tradition in their artistic expressions. In the case of Rajasthan this area is promising for the study of cultural assimilation, because it appears like melting crucible of different cultures.

The influence of Kushana, Gupta merged with that of Gurjar Prathiharas. It is evident on the art tradition particularly. The study of cultural crosscurrent of this region would also be made in the proposed project. A comprehensive study is also needed to synchronise economic prosperity and technological development with art and architecture. In early medieval period a lot of theoretical work has been done on art and architecture like Mansara, Shilpshastra, Roopmandan etc. The objective of the research is to find out that how much it was transformed or followed in architectural activities.

Similarly the region plays an important role in trade. It fell into one of the major route which used to connect Gangetic plains with Gujarat ports. In this context Bayana emerged as one of the main trading point in early medieval period. The proposed project aims to study that how much the trading activities and the prosperity yielded by it influenced the art traditions. Review of Existing Literature The region lack any comprehensive study of art traditions although sporadic work has been done by Shri R. C. Agarwal, former director of State

Archeological Department, but his attempt is limited to the findings which came into his course of explorations. A large number of articles have been published by Shri R. C. Agarwal and his colleagues on various aspects of art and architecture of this region which were published periodically in “Researcher”, the official journal of the Department. Some other scholars like Harphool Singh, Vijay Kumar have done some scattered research. A lengthy work on Abhaneri sculpture has been done by Shrimiti Pupul Jaikar but her attempt is limited to cultural interpretation of sculptures.

In this context the work of Smt. Neelima Vashishta is path – breaking. Her work – Sculpture Traditions of Rajasthan- deals very minutely the sculptures in the context of socio- religious developments. But this also does not consider eastern Rajasthan as a entity, nor it comments beyond sculpture. ObjectiveS of the Project This comprehensive study of art of the region is aimed to achieve the following objectives:- 1. To understand and reconstruct the integrated image of Eastern Rajasthan as reflected in the art and architecture of the region. 2.

To undertake, the comparative study of the art and architecture of Eastern Rajasthan with those of adjoining regions. It is further aimed to evaluate the quantum of mutual impact of the art traditions in a border region. 3. To what extent the prescriptions of the “Shilp Texts” were followed in actual execution. 4. It further aims to study the economic aspect of art and architecture including the nature and behaviour of guilds of sculptors and architects. 5. To get a glimpse of the social and cultural life of contemporary people with the help of art and architecture of the region.

Hypothesis This project is based on certain assumptions. The basic assumption is that Indian art is deeply related to philosophy and religion and reflects like a mirror, the faith and ideals of the contemporary era. Thus study of art tradition plays an important role in understanding the religious and cultural development of particular region. How much cultural contact took place with other regions and how far it influenced the local traditions can be comprehended with the help of art and architecture. Research Design and Methodology

The proposed project is aimed to find continuity and integrity of art tradition of Eastern Rajasthan keeping in view the cultural cross current with adjoining regions. For this purpose an in-depth study of the art and architecture of the Eastern Rajasthan will be undertaken, with an incisive analysis of the contents basic theme, stylistic variation etc. of the art objects. A holistic study of the art and contemporary life will be undertaken to achieve better understanding of the society of the proposed period. details of the Tools Documentation of monuments and artifacts will be the main tools.

The primary source material will be collected by visiting ancient art sites of the region and by studying the contemporary inscriptions and literature. A large number of scholarly work on Indian art and architecture has appeared in last two centuries which will definitely assist in understanding the art traditions of the region under study. Similarly the research on history and society of ancient Rajasthan will be of great help in understanding the region in proper perspective. Academic significance of the Project The proposed project is an effort to enrich the knowledge of ancient art and culture of Rajasthan.

It is an effort to study art in a new perspective, in view of the fact that Indian art is essentially expressive of the cultural ethos of India This study will bring us nearer to the inspirational sources of art and will provide a clear understanding of the great psychic currents and intellectual movements of ancient Indian society. Relevance to present day problems of the society The Indian art is a true representation of the essential spiritual and cultural unity of India and a close study of this would be inspirational for the modern society, which is torn by various diversities, mostly artificial.

A study of Indian Art will also provide us a better understanding of our social and cultural life in the past and will thus remove many misconceptions about our past. Expected Contribution in the Field of Knowledge As mentioned above the project is aimed to study the art traditions in a holistic approach. With this approach an integrated image of Eastern Rajasthan would emerge in the art tradition. In the course of documentation and fieldwork some new artifacts and monuments may also be identified. BIBLIOGRAPHY ORIGINAL SOURCES A. Literary (i)Vedic Manu Smriti, with the commentary of Medhatithi, Ed. by Ganganatha Jha, Calcutta, 1934.

Rigveda Samhita, (ed. ) Tilak, Vaidika Samsodhana Mandala, Poona, 4 Vols. 1933, 1936, 1941, 1946. Mahabharat, Geeta Press, Gorakhpur. (ii)Puranic Agni Purana, Ed. , by Baladeva Upadhyaya, Chowkhambha Sanskrit Series, Varanasi, First edn. , 1966. Harivamsa Purana, Khilabhagh Mahabharata, Gita Press, Gorakhpur (n. d. ) (iii)Classical Amarakosha of Amar Singh, ed. By A. D. Sharma and N. G. Sardesai, Poona , 1941. Bhoja, Samarmgana Sutradhara, Ed. by T. Ganapati Sastri, Baroda, 1924-25. Lakshmidhara, Krityakalpataru, Ed. with an introduction by K. V. Rangaswami Aiyangar (i) Grihasthakanda, Baroda, 1944, (ii) Rajadharmakanda, Baroda, 1943. iii) Vyavaharakanda, Baroda, 1953. Mandana, Devata Murti Prakarana, Ed. by V. M. Sankhyatirtha, Metropolitan Printing and Publishing House, Calcutta, 1936. Manasara, tans. P. K. Acharya, Allahabad, 1933. Merutunga, Prabandhachintamani, Ed. by Muni Jinavijaya, Santiniketan, 1932, English Tr. by C. H. Tawney, Calcutta, 1894. Sompura, Prabhashankar Oghadbhai, (ed. ) Vastuvidyayama (Gujarati), Ahmedabad. Uddyotana Suri, Kuvalayamala, Ed. by A. N. Upadhyaya, Bombay, 1959. SECONDARY SOURCES A. Books (i)English Agrawala, Prithvi Kumar, Purna Kalasa or The Vase of Plenty, Prithvi Prakashan, Varanasi, First Reprint, 1985.

Agrawala, P. K. , Gupta Temple Architecture, Prithivi Prakashan, Varanasi, 1968. Agarwala, V. S. , Solar Symbolism, Monograph, U. P. Historical Society, Lucknow, 1963. Banerjea, Jitendra Nath, The Development of Hindu Iconography, Calcutta, 1956. Bhattacharya, B. C. , The Jaina Iconography, Motilal Banarsidass, Second revised edition, Delhi, 1974. Bhattasali, N. K. , The Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical Sculptures in the Dacca Museum, Dacca Museum Committee, Dacca, 1929. Brown, Percy, Indian Architecture (Buddhist and Hindu), Vol. I, Taraporewala Sons & Company, Bombay, 3rd edition, 1956. Chanda, R. P. Medieval Indian Scultpure in British Museum, London, 1936. Chandra, Pramod (ed. ), Studies in Indian Temple Architecture, American Institute of Indian Studies, New Delhi, 1975. Coomaraswamy, A. K. , Yaksas, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 1971. Coomaraswamy,A. K. , History of Indian and Indonesian Art, Dover Publication, New York,1965, Desai, Devangana, Erotic Sculpture of India – A Socio-Cultural Study, Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi, 1975. Handa, Devendra, Osian, History, Archaeology, Art & Architecture, Sundeep Prakashan, Delhi, 1984. Harle, J. G. , Gupta Sculpture, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1974. Havell, E. B. , Ideals of Indian Art, J.

Murray, London, 1911. Hopkins, E. W. , Epic Mythology, Motilal Banarsidass, Varanasi, 1968. Jain, Kailash Chandra, Ancient Cities and Towns of Rajasthan, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi Varanasi Patna, 1972. Kramrisch, Stella, The Art of India: Introduction to the Traditions of Indian Art, Phaidon Press, London, 2nd. , edn. , 1955. Law, B. C. , Tribes in Ancient India, Poona,1943. Liebert, Gosta, Iconographic Dictionary of the Indian Religious, Asian Arts and Archaeological series, No. 5, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, Second edition, 1986. Majumdar, B. P. , Social and Economic History of Northern India, Calcutta, 1960.

Nagar, Shanti Lal, Mahishasuramardini in Indian Art, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 1988. Nath, R. , Elements of Indian Art and Architecture, The Historical Documentation Programme, Jaipur, 1986. Ojha, G. H. , The History of Rajputana, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, Vaidika Yantralaya, Ajmer, 1937. Puri, K. N. , Excavation at Rairh, Jaipur. Rao, T. A. Gopinath, Elements of Hindu Iconography, Vols. I-IV, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1968. Ray, H. C. , The Dynastic History of Northern India, Vol. II, Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi, Second edition, 1973. Sahai, Bhagwant, Iconography of Minor Hindu and Buddhist Deities, New Delhi, 1975.

Shah, U. P. , Jaina Rupa-Mandana (Jaina Iconography), Vol. I, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, 1987. Sahani, D. R. , Archaeological Remains and Excavation at Bairat, Jaipur. Sharma, Dasaratha, Early Chauhan Dynasties, S. Chand and Company, Delhi, 1959. Sharma, Dasratha, Rajasthan Through the Ages, Vol. I, Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner, 1966. Sircar, Dines Chandra (ed. ), Select Inscriptions: Bearing on Indian History and Civilization (Sixth century B. C. to the fall of the Imperial Guptas in the Sixth century A. D. ), Vol. I, Second edition, University of Calcutta, 1965. Sircar, Dines Chandra (ed. , Select Inscriptions: Bearing on Indian History and Civilization (From the Sixth to the Eighteenth century A. D. ), Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, Varanasi Patna, 1983. Sircar, D. C. , Indian Epigraphical Glossary, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi First edition, 1966. Tewari, Maruti Nandan Prasad, Elements of Jaina Iconography, Indological Book House, Varanasi, 1985. Tod, James, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, 3 Vols. , ed. , William Crooke, Motilal Banarasidass, Reprint, Delhi, 1971. Vashistha, Neelima, Sculptural Traditions of Rajasthan, Publication Scheme, Jaipur, 1989. (ii)Hindi

Agrawala, Vasudeva Sharan, Bharatiya Kala, Prithvi Prakashan, Varanasi, Second edition, 1977. Nahar, P. C. , Jaina Silalekha Samgraha, Bombay, 1957. (B)Reports and journals Archaeological survey reports Cunningham,A. , A Report of a tour in Eastern Rajputana, Archaeological Survey of India, Vol VI. Progress Report of Archaeological Survey Western Circle. Annual Report of Rajasthan Museum, Ajmer. Indian Archaeology – A Review. Journal of Oriental Institute, Baroda Lalit Kala, Lalit Kala Academy,New Delhi Researcher, Bulletin of the Rajasthan’s Archaeology and Museum,Jaipur. ———————– 1] Sanklia, H. D. – Archeology of Rajasthan 1988. [2] Carllyle, A. C. C. – Report of a Tour In Eastern Rajputana – 1871-72, ASI Reports (1878). [3] Hackett Brown, J – Catalogue of the Prehistoric Antiquities in India. [4] Sahani, D. K. – Archeological Remains And Excavation at Bairat. [5] Bhargav, M. L. – A Geography of Rigvedic India Pg. 50 (Published – Lucknow). [6] Ray, H. C. – Political History of Ancient India – 1938 page 72. [7] Sharma, M. L. – The New Rock Art Regions in North Eastern Rajasthan Page – 22. [8] Sahni, D. R. – ‘Archaeological Remains and Excavations at Bairath’ Page – 38.


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