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Primitive engravings lie in ruins

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NAMITA PANDA   |   Published 26.03.14, 12:00 AM

Bhubaneswar, March 25: Engravings on the walls of a rock shelter are lying unattended in Naraj near Cuttack. The art dates back to early historic period, say historians. Neither any preservation nor research has been done towards the age-old rock drawings.

Known as the Adhai Ashyara, the rock art shelter is located on the right bank of the river Mahanadi at a distance of about 500 metres from its bank and situated 2km south of Naraj village. The shelter is home to a unique set of cave art, which has images of humans and nature, but in an abstract form.

Interestingly, these do not contain any pigmentation or colours, but form an ensemble of a wide range of drawings that can be related to prehistoric period.

“From the evidence we got while documenting about the site, we come to know that it was a place for dwelling of primitive men. However, it lies abandoned now,” said historian Sadashiba Pradhan.

The images found on the rock shelter show a group of human like figures holding sticks and tools, most likely to be used for hunting.

There is also a bird like figure in a corner and circular ring like pictures over the head of the humans that looks like the sun.

Many other carvings in the art are difficult to interpret since their clarity is lost to erosion.

Despite its archaeological importance, neither Archaeological Survey of India nor the Odisha State Archaeology has taken the site under their wing for preservation.

On the basis of the style of execution and the cultural materials such as potteries found in the shelter, the engravings can be assigned to the prehistoric period, say the researched documents of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

“The shelter preserves specimens of engravings executed at the base of the rock are bird, human forms, fish, boat, wheel and Brahmi alphabetic forms. Potteries of different types and shapes are found in the rock shelter. They need further excavation,” said Pradhan.

Though vandalism is not a threat to the site, the negligence towards conservation and threats from nature that challenge the longevity of the art on the sandstone rock.

“We wish the department concerned takes care of the site since it could throw light on the existence of primitive settlers here,” said Chinmaya Pradhan, a local resident.

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