Rock Art in Chhattisgarh

in Module
Published on: 17 June 2019

Rock art is the earliest visual expression of the prehistoric communities. These include paintings and engravings in their dwelling places- rock shelters. Rock art was discovered by A. Carlleyle who discovered the paintings on the walls and ceilings of the Mirzapur (Uttar Pradesh) rock shelters in the 19th century. Ever since, more than one hundred and fifty rock art sites have come to light with their concentration in central India and central Uttar Pradesh. 

The chronology of rock art in India is subject to debate because of its long time-span and, themes and styles. While some believe that the drawings and paintings with green pigments are the earliest; others suggest that dating them on the basis of their themes and styles is a better way to get rid of the chronological problems. Thus, on the basis of subject and style rock art has been divided into three time-periods- Prehistoric, Neolithic-Chalcolithic and Historic. 

While the Prehistoric rock art is dominated by depictions of animals and hunting and gathering activities; the Neolithic-Chalcolithic phase provides a peek-through in to the sedentary lifestyle of the prehistoric communities. This phase is dominated by depictions of agricultural activities and domestic animals. The rock-art of the historic period exhibited a variety of themes- warriors, weapons.

A wide range of colours (or shades) have been identified from the rock arts, of which red and white were frequently used. These colours were organic, made out of minerals and mixed with water for better application. They used twigs, animal tail and fur for applying these colours on rock surfaces to make art. 

In Chhattisgarh, painted rock shelter was discovered by C.W. Anderson in the early 20th century. He began with Singhanpur after which Amarnath Dutta, P. Lochan Prasad Pandey, Dr G.L. Raikwar and others began research in this direction. The themes vary from hunting-gathering scenes, dancing humans to depictions of hand and foot  marks, animals like deer, bear, bull, monkey, elephant; fishes and tortoise to name a few. This module is an attempt to document and provide an account on the painted and engraved rock shelters of Chhattisgarh. 


This content has been created as part of a project commissioned by the Directorate of Culture and archaeology, Government of Chhattisgarh to document the cultural and natural heritage of the state of Chhattisgarh.