Follow on


the many-splendoured delights of Ajanta compiled by Subramanian Swaminathan


September 2007

Painting & Dance - Unique relation in Indian art

The relationship between painting and dance is a remarkable unique Indian tradition.

Vishnu-dharmottara (7th century AD) stresses the impossibility of attaining a proper expression of feeling in painting without the knowledge of dance.

There are paintings from the earlier as well as the later periods of Ajanta art, which depict dance scenes.

Dancing had become highly stylised in the later period. The vibrant grace of pose and gesture invest her with a swaying, flower-like rhythm and movement.

An unaffected dancer from pre-Christian era

A dancer with full complement of accompanying musicians Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1

Tribhanga Pose
Tribhanga is a very important feature in the depiction of the human form. The whole figure is structured around three main axes.

It gives the body an S-shaped rhythm, a fluency of line, which, together with the appropriate gestures of hands, conveys a wide range of expressions.

Painting & Sculpture, Another unique relation
Most impressive is the way the two art-forms, paintng and sculpture, co-exist at Ajanta, complementing each other.

The sculptures were fully painted, though most of the paint has disappeared.