Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Bodies in Motion Volume 50 Number 1, January/February 1997
by Erwin Neumayer

[image] Two women dance in a painting from central India's Mahadeo Hills. (Erwin Neumayer) [LARGER IMAGE, 79K]

One of the world's richest sources of information about the performing arts in prehistoric times is the painted decoration on the walls of caves in central India. Stick figures wearing elaborate, spikey headdresses sway to music, while others dance choreographed steps. Harpists with erect phalli play for dancers, some of whom are engaging in homosexual acts. Boys and girls jump about in ecstatic dance, then sit on beds entwined in each other's arms. Rock art showing dance and musicianship is abundant in the state of Madhya Pradesh, particularly in the Vindhya Hills to the north of the Narmada River, and in the Mahadeo Hills to the south. Here, early artists created some of the most vivid and dramatic pictures of people in motion.

© 1997 by the Archaeological Institute of America