Art in Upper Paleolithic Age–Two Types Explained


December 25, 2018 admin 0 Comment

1. Home Art:

The former has been designated as art mobilier by the French pre historians. It includes engravings on moveable objects, figurines and statues, jewellery and ornaments made on bone, horn, ivory, etc. and a number of exotic looking objects whose probable use is still a matter of debate. Cave art includes engravings and paintings on rocks in rock shelters and caves.

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When we look at many specimen of home art and cave art and become awe struck by the workmanship and find ourselves at a loss to explain the high degree of expertise displayed by the Paleolithic artist we usually miss a very important point.

As very rightly pointed out by L. S. B. Leakey (1960) we must imagine that long before man started to paint with colours or engrave with specially made engraving tools, he must often have made roughly drawings in sand, in the earth, and on clay with his finger tips or a piece of wood. Naturally, such examples of early art would hardly survive.

The specimen of home art have been found form innumerable sites throughout Europe but cave art is restricted mainly to France and Spain, with a very few finds from Italy. However, to many art historians the series of scratched lines are the earliest evidence of human effort to create art or his attempt of getting acquainted with his “Canvas”.

Among the important sits that have yielded specimen of home art some selected ones may be cited as representative sites giving us some idea about the type and motive of the objects. Pavlov (Czechoslovakia) has yielded the famous zoomorphic ivory locket. Five pieces of open mouthed bangles or bands have been found from Mezin (Soviet Union) and one ivory pin from Kostienki (Soviet Union).

Vogelherd, as site in West Germany has yielded some remarkable ivory models of horse, mammoth, reindeer, panther and cave bear. A number of batons with zig-zag lines engraved on them have been found from Peterfels, another West German site. Pekarna, a site from Czechoslovakia, has yielded engravings of animals and also some plant representation on antler and ivory and two engraved horse ribs.

A number of sites such as Grimaldi from Italy, Willendorf from Austria, Brassempony from France, Menzin and Malta from Soviet Union have yielded female statues and figurines with almost uniform features. All these female statues and figurines known as ‘Venus’ exhibit exaggerated secondary sexual traits such as highly exaggerated breasts, belly and hips. These figurines are devoid of feet and in most of the cases even hands are missing. Among these the best example of Venus is ‘Venus of Willendorf’. These venuses were made on stone, ivory, charcoal and other materials.

Among the above described pieces of art, the earlier described ‘batons’ popularly called as ‘baton de commandment’ and Venuses hold lot of importance. The batons, in the opinion of several scholars, were symbolic of authority of the chieftain or head of the group while the venuses, perhaps, were related with some sort of fertility cult being practiced by the Palaeolithic people.

2. Cave Art:

Cave art, obviously, was executed where there were caves or rock shelters in plenty. By and large this cave art is confined to France, Spain and Italy. This art work represented on cave walls, floors and ceilings are usually in the form of engravings, outline drawings or painting.

In most of the cases animals were represented either singly or in group in varying sizes and the commonly occurring animals are bison, wild cow, woody mammoth, reindeer and wild horse. Fish, bird and man rarely occur in such paintings and engravings.

Among some of the best illustrated caves is one located at Font de Gaume in France. This cave site contains a series of pictures of mammoths, bisons, reindeers, wooly rhinoceros and horses done in polychrome with the dominant tinge of black, red and brown. Lascaux is another cave site.

Here large sized mammals like bulls, horses and cows have been portrayed in polychrome afflicted and pierced from all sides with spears and arrows. Candamo, Covalanas and Pindal are some of the important cave sites from Spain. These sites represent hunting scenes and tectiforms.

Tectiforms represented by abstract symbols have been discovered from several other cave sites. It is difficult to interpret these signs. Beside these tectiforms signs of human palms and fingers known as ‘macroni has also been discovered from a number of cave sites.

One of the most talked about works of art has been discovered from the twin caves of Les Trois Freres and d’Audonbert. In one of the underground chambers reached through a vertical hole in cave floor is the famous.



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