The Ajanta caves are treasure troves of exquisite paintings that depict scenes from Jataka tales and the life of Lord Buddha. Beautiful murals adorning the walls, ceilings and the pillars bear testimony to the versatility of ancient artistes. Even though many paintings have considerably faded, a great of many of them have managed to retain their original grandeur.
For long there existed a flawed assumption that the Ajanta cave
paintings were frescoes. But the making of a fresco entails the
application of colours to moist lime plaster whereas the Ajanta
paintings were done on dry wall. The plaster made of clay, hay, dung,
lime, etc. was applied to the wall and the artisans sketched beautiful
drawings using vegetable colors. The brush for painting was made of
animal hairs and twigs of certain plants.
However the creation of these intricate Ajanta cave paintings remains a
mystery because of the obvious lack of natural light inside the caves.
Only thin streaks of light permeate inside which is hardly sufficient
for executing such a painstaking craft. Historians have opined that
ancient artistes either made use of oil lamps or employed mirrors to
reflect and magnify the little natural light inside the cave.