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Deer in Rock Art of India and Europe (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: UAT631
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre For The Arts
Author: Giacamo Camuri, Angelo Fossati, Yashodhar Mathpal
Language: English
Edition: 1993
ISBN: ‎ 8185503028
Pages: 166 (Throughout B/W or Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 880 gm
Book Description
About The Book

Emerging from the oldest testimonies of visual heritage and fragments of oral tradition, the deer is deeply rooted in the psyche of the people in almost every culture of the world. It is widely portrayed in the rock art sites of India and Europe. Deer in Rock Art of India and Europe pro vides an overview of deer in the rock art of India and Europe and its representation through the historic period.

In the Indian section valuable evidence from several sites has been provided. A glimpse of a deep and sensitive understanding of the deer in man's life and nature in the Indian literary tradition has been presented. The European section reveals the geographical extent of the various species of deer, besides the myths, legends and fables constructed around its presence.

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) is pursuing rock art research in a universal context. It forms an important component in its programme of the Adi Drśya (primaeval sight), which is dedicated to everything that is under stood by the word palaeo-art. This vol ume is the second in the IGNCA series of rock art studies, the first being Rock Art in the Old World edited by Michel Lorblan chet. It is meant for wide ranging specialists and students interested in human history and art.


An encounter between cultures is the fruit of long prepared syntheses starting off from heterogeneous. situations and distant lands, that already infer different ways of viewing the world. In the twenties, Max Scheler, one of the fathers of the sociology of knowledge, underlined the importance of differences as the indispensable premise for carrying out fascinating cultural syntheses between the East and West.

In an encounter on equal footing between cultures and insynergyzing research studies, the great philosopher indicated resource-sharing and greater humanity as the only possible way to progress.

Among institutions where the civilization of Indus has given way to one of the greatest cultural movements in history, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts at New Delhi is an able testimony to the ideal of universitasstudiorum, space where a free commitment in research embraces horizons and experiences that stretch far beyond the spatial and temporal borders of modern India.

East and West meet in the gardens and lecture halls of the Centre in the encounter of men desirous to know and share their differences, in the shadow of the great cultural traditions, at the same time religious, political and philosophical.

One warm January morning, as the war clouds were gathering over the Persian Gulf, a rather sin gular research project on the very roots of the imaginary sedimented in the oldest of the European and Indian cultural heritage was taking shape. A study along the borders of existing knowledge, throwing new light on differences and similarities of Rock Art which, though formulated in distant countries by peoples probably unaware of each others existence for thousands of years, have created traditions that have at times come close to touching each other, showing surprising consistencies and striking analogies.

Here, the first results of the research study, car ried out in Italy by the Archeological Cooperative Society "Le Orme dell' Uomo" (The Footsteps of Man) and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts have been brought together in a volume and exhibition. The results are certainly not definitive, methods and perspectives though have already revealed themselves as fruitful and stimulating.

Delving into the strata of prehistory, while concentrating on reliable sources of oral tradition, one is guided by a figure that has shown surprising alacrity and stubbornness in its resistance to cultural changes. Emerging from the oldest testimonies of visual heritage and fragments of oral tradition, the deer is deeply rooted in the conscience of both the peoples of Europe and those of the Indian subcontinent.

Tracing out its presence, the deer is a guide and a vanishing point for a research study that has lead to the formulation of a preliminary cycle of lectures on interdisciplinary subjects, the science of animal be haviour, rupestrian archeology, history of religion, anthropology and literature.


One amongst the many programmes in the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is a project to explore the artistic expressions which emerge from man's primary sense-perceptions, particularly sight and sound. It is likely that man's first awareness of the world around him came through his primaeval sense of sight and ability to hear. In India, these two sense perceptions are especially considered essential, although an entire cosmology is developed on the basis of the five senses-sense-perceptions-their micro and macro dimensions, along with both their interiorization and outer expression. The artistic theory expounded nearly two thousand years ago has spoken of sight and sound, called drya and Sravya.

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has launched several programmes to reveal the com plementarity of the codified traditions articulated in artistic theory and the perennial flow of artistic expression over a long period of history, pre-dating articulation at the theoretical level. Whether in the prehistoric past or in contemporary culture, it is sight and sound that has created artistic expressions visual and aural. In an attempt to concretize this exploration, the Centre over the last five years has initiated several types of studies, both at the level of theory as also field work which would manifest the long continuities of visual art tradition as also the use of visual arts as a means of conducting cross-cultural lifestyle studies.

Naturally, no work of this nature could begin without first exploring the legacy of mankind as seen in prehistoric rock art of the world. This not only captures and arrests man's experience of life phenomena but is also art on its own terms. This art, whether in Europe, Australia, Africa, China or India, is vivacious, vital and full of elemental power. The world of early man is peopled by the animals around him-whether bisons or antelopes, bulls or deer, and later on horses or elephants. The preoccupation of man with nature around him in stick figures or geometrical forms, and the animals are all parts of an integral whole. Sometimes, he hunts; at other times, he watches as animals respond to each other.


The European section has the set purpose of revealing the geographical extension of the subject at hand, a subject partially known to us. Indeed we are acquainted with myths, legends and fables constructed around the presence of the deer. Deer figures are found in prehistoric sites. Several images of deer and animals with branched antlers appear on bas reliefs, mosaics, frescoes of Etruscan art, in Greco-Roman, Celtic, Byzantine and Mediaeval art. All the same painting, in its uniting the heritage of images, has been little explored. The profound meaning and profound intentions, also echoed in the figures whose allegorical and decorative intent are more evident, escape us.

Here the contribution of rupestrian archeology is decisive as it offers a historic base to a complex web of traditions spread out over space and time. It enables the reconstruction of the context in which the images emerged and their subsequent diffusion. It presents modes of reading suited to penetrating the synthetically condensed nature of visual forms.

The study of oral traditions, carried out in reference to visual languages and to the liturgical-ritual context that has emerged due to the work of cataloguing and analysis of rupestrian archeology, opens up unexpected perspectives and makes the recuperation of sedimented memories possible, otherwise rendered irrecuperable beneath the patina of apparent superficiality.

Thus the cycle of King Arthur, with the profound impression made on the history of western art and literature, abandons the limbo of a pure and great work of imagination; it discovers roots of times past whose images and meanings have been deposited in the stories which have the themes sung by minstrels in castles and mediaeval courts throughout Europe.

The lives of saints are modelled around narrative typology codified by tradition whose canons have often helped interpretation of prehistoric rupestrian art.

At times, the wording, in a mythological episode refer back to rites and liturgies which in turn justify sign languages scratched on the surface of rocks by anonymous engravers.

The threads joining deer figures in different ex pressive traditions lengthen, the mesh thickens. In deed the mesh is not a chance creation composed of like surfaces, it is an organization of homogeneous works in which either similarities or differences prevail, the works at times referring to the same themes though with a modulated tone and composition.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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