Follow on


the many-splendoured delights of Ajanta compiled by Subramanian Swaminathan


September 2007

Portrayal of Women
Women of Ajanta are the art connoisseur's delight. The Ajanta artist has painted the whole range of women characters: ladies of court and their maids, dancers, common women in their house-hold chores. The woman was the theme that gave full scope for expression of creative genius for the Ajanta artist.

The artist had succeeded in reproducing the soft roundness of her breasts, the curves of her hips, the turn of her head, the gestures of her hands and the slanting glance of her eyes. It is intriguing that most of Ajanta heroines are depicted naked, or in near nudity, while all the others in the same scene are fully clothed.

Clothed in Nakedness

Conversion of Nanda Cave 1

Queen Shivali Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1

Nanda's wife, the central figure, is naked whereas all the maids are fully clothed.

Maya-devi, Siddharta’s Mother Nativity of the Buddha, Cave 2

The Dying Princess Conversion of Nanda, Cave 16

Black is Beautiful
Many heroines of Ajanta are dark complexioned. Perhaps contemporary taste included black as an attractive complexion for skin.

Shakti Pandara, Cave 1

Black Apsaras Cave 17

Consort of Padma-pani Padma-pani panel, Cave 1

Common People

Village Woman attending Coronation Vishvantara Jataka, Cave 17

Woman braiding Hair Vishvantara Jataka, Cave 17

We wonder why very sensuous women were painted at all in these religious caves