Art in paleolithic age


-Aastha Joshi

Upper paleolithic art was first discovered in the last quarter of 19 century. In 1879 Don Marcelino de sautuola found paintings on the roof of cave in Altamira. He examined the painting carefully and suggested that they were made by early stone age people. Panting were so brilliantly executed and the style of the paintings appeared to be very modern. The realistic manner in which painters depicted the animals in motion was considered beyond the capacity of Paleolithic people. Henri Breuil who did pioneering research on the upper paleolithic found nearly 200 paleolithic caves which contain paintings and engravings on the wall, apart from it another upper paleolithic cave has been situated at Lascaux in France.

Cave paintings were not the only source of art present at that particular point of time, objects like statuette, tools and clay figures, these objects depict animals and geometrical figures. The clay figure portray the human female body. While paintings were restricted to western Europe the other objects were widespread.

AURIGNACIAN CULTURE- They contained the evidences of first extensive evidence of upper paleolithic art. There were no paintings but beautifully carved ivory beads used for ornamentation, they made animal figures using bone and ivory and also made a flute like instrument from boneSOLUTREAN CULTURE- cave paintings emerged as a main form of art in them. Early painting were roughly outlined but later the lines become graceful and filled with details, the painting were also coloured with natural pigments, they were also expert in carving figures at the walls of the caves. This technique was called bas-relief where the figures are slightly raised on the surface of the wall.

MAGDALENIAN CULTURE-cave paintings were fully developed by this culture. V. Gordon Childe refer it as the most brilliant culture created by the hunter gatherers. 80% of upper paleolithic cave paintings were from these sites and they had a perfect technique of painting deep inside the caves. Lamps containing animal fat were used up for lighting the caves while the painters were working so it tells that painting demanded lots and lots of precision, skill and was a difficult job. There are scenes depicting human engaged in hunting.

Their were lots of debates on the art some felt that art is merely for arts sake were as some saw great in-depth meaning in the art and paintings,

these people attained advance level artistic sophistication which reveal their high level of thinking process.

Reinach had studied the paintings made by Australian aboriginal hunters I found that painting were ritual intended to improve chances of successful hunts, most of the animals painted were intended for hunts.

Breuil argued that upper paleolithic paintings were magicalin nature, by the term magic they meant ritual practices which intend to exert control over some objects.

Magical rituals marked the beginning of religious beliefs, the purpose of ritual was to give hunters greater control over animals which they hunted and so bison, deer and horses were predominant in their paintings

Andre Leroi-Gourhan- He tried placing animals,certain groups of animals are uniformly depicted in certain parts of caves. Bison and horse are invariably depicted deep inside the caves, while deer were always drawn near the entrance of caves. He classified a division of male and female nature. Some forces like horse, stag were representative of maleness while the female animals like ox and bison.

Count Begouen’s- his views on rituals were act of drawing itself and suggested two significant features of paintings, first is in many cases figures are drawn repeatedly on the spot in respective caves, second that majority of the paintings are located in the dark parts of the caves.

The rituals which reflect shared beliefs, gave rise to the cave paintings of the periods. Paintings were an important source of knowledge which help us to know significant facts about paleolithic age