the many-splendoured delights of Ajanta compiled by Subramanian Swaminathan
Click on images for enlarged version
Bodhisattva Padmapani, Cave 1
Symbolism in Indian Art

The parts of the body should resemble, and be based on, similes drawn from plant or animal-life.

Sensuous lips are ripe and full like the bimba-fruit; fingers likened to lotus-petals. Here the allusion is not to the form but to the content, to the mood. It is a suggestion and not realistic likeness.

Bodhisattva Padma-pani's divine face has the shape of an egg. His shoulders are like massive domed head of an elephant, and arms like its tapered trunk. His hands are supple like a flower-bud.
simha-kati (body-of-a -lion)
gomukha khanda (cow's-head)
pada-pallava (feet-like-leaves)
charana-kamala (feet-like-lotus)
Body postures (sthana-s)

In Indian tradition the postures of the body, were identified and distinct terms were used to cover the entire range.
rijva-gata (Strict profile)
parshva-gata (Frontal)
A woman listening to a sermon is an excellent study
Shankha-pala Jataka, Cave 1
The three women are in different postures;
another example of elegant poses, Cave 17
This is particularly so with the depiction of women shown in congregation
Chempayya Jataka, Cave 1

Drawings with a free flowing sweep of the brush to depict oval faces, arched eyebrows, aquiline noses, and fine sensitive lips are aplenty on the walls of Ajanta.

A relaxed monkey, consisting basically of one masterly sweep of brush starting beneath chin and forming a curve outlining head and spine and terminating beneath knee-cap.
Maha-janaka Jataka, Cave 1
Shad-danta Jataka, Cave 17

Swaminathan's Presentations
| Paintings | Home