Accepted paper:

From Tangible to Intangible : Early Rock Art, Visual Memory and Ethnic Conflicts in India


Somnath Chakraverty (B. E. C., University of Calcutta)

Paper short abstract:

In early rock art of India, manifestations of battle scenes represent ethnic rivalry and conflicts. Scholars identify such battle scenes as the evidence for Aryan-Non Aryan rivalry. Contextually, socio-political conflicts between ethnic entities are common for generations. Empirically it is attempted to justify the validity of such conflicts.

Paper long abstract:

In plateau region of Central India, particularly in Satpura and Vindhya mountainous ranges, more than a hundred of different clusters of rock shelters and caves are marked with prehistoric rock art. The rock art available in the entire region may further be classified into three major successive periods. The imagery initially began with hunting - gathering phase which is gradually succeeded and overlapped by the dominating pastorals and in final phase battle - scenes and its varied manifestations are thematically predominant. Such visual document is an ethnic memory on conflict and struggle that the indigenous communities had encountered during early historic period. Such visual memory of conflict is viewed by elites as historic evidences in support of the hypothesis on Aryan invasion and Aryan - Non Aryan clashes. Such idea o0n societal conflict has generation - wise created a prolong rivalry between different opposing and contrasting ethnic entities such as tribal - non - tribals, between lower caste and higher caste and indigenous dalits against colonial invaders. Such contrasting and bipolar ethnic entities claim those evidences of visual imagery as basis in support of social hierarchy resulting in animosity. Such ethnic view and rivalry significantly influences the modern political system and communal rivalry in contemporary India. A critical assessment of the tangible visual narratives explain the myth as unjustified, biased and baseless. Such assumed view of social fragmentation and ethnic rivalry threatens the integrity and social fabric of the nation.

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Indigenous culture at the cross roads in the Indian subcontinent