Dr. YASHODHAR MATHPAL
Born on 6th June 1939, in Uttarakhand, Yashodhar Mathpal obtained a five year Diploma in Fine Arts from Government Arts and Crafts College, Lucknow and a Master’s Degree in Drawing and Painting from Agra University. His search for the origin of art took him to Pune, where he did his Ph.D. in Prehistoric Art and Archaeology from Deccan College University of Pune in 1979. Between 1973 and 1978, Mathpal recorded manually all the painted motifs (6214) from 133 caves of Bhimbetka, now a World Heritage Site. In 1981, he joined the Museum of Man (IGRMS) at Bhopal.
During his two years stay at IGRMS, Mathpal recorded all the painted motifs from 28 rock-shelters located at Shyamla hills. Beside his research on the Bhonrawali Hill of Bhimbetka, he established his own museum the “Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya” (Folk Cultural Museum) at Bhimtal in 1983. In 1989, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) accepted his proposal to work on the Rock Art of Uttrakhand and Kerala Rock Art. In 1993, the Centre asked him to help in the Expert System Program, a computer based research to assign the meanings of rock art motifs. There he also worked with the Italian team on a project “Dear in Rock Art of India and Europe”. For next two years, he was Indian team Leader in an Indo-French project to assign the age of Indian Rock Art, and also to examine the accuracy of manual recording method, applied by him since 1973, in making reproductions of Rock paintings. In 1998, while in Portugal, he recorded the Rock Art of the Douro Valley for the University of UTAD, Vila Real. Prior to that, the recorded a few Ice Age images in the Cognac cave in France.
In 2000-2001, Mathpal documented art motifs of the Jhinjhiri hill near Katani (Madhya Pradesh) and Panchamukhi area of Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. The same year, Mathpal was invited as a Visiting Professor at Maison Des Sciences De L’Homme, Paris, where a six month long exhibition of Indian Rock Art reproduction was arranged. He also enriched the museum collections of D. N. Majumdar Memorial Museum of the Ethnographic & Folk Culture, Lucknow; Anthropological Museums of Lucknow, Delhi, Guwahati, Canberra Universities and Huntarian Museum of Scotland, besides establishing a Rock Art Museum at Katani.
Dr. Mathpal has attended World Conferences at Pune (1978), Bhopal (1980), Southampton (1986), Darwin (1988), Agra (1990), Cairns (1992), New Delhi (1993), Agra (1993), Turino (1995), Cervano (1997), Bijapur (1998), Vila Real (1998), Wisconsin (1999), Cuttuck (2001), Kolkata (2002,2003,2004), New Delhi (2012) and Almora (2013).
In his museum at Bhimtal, there is a hundred feet long gallery with three hundred water colour reproductions of rock art. He displayed his recordings by thirty one man shows during World Conferences in India and abroad. To popularize rock art, he has printed paintings in post-cards and poster sizes. The visitors of museum from all walks of life are enlightened in rock art by Mathpal during last 32 years. He has 45 books and over 200 research articles to his credit. To recognize his contribution to art and it’s preservation, he was awarded “The Padmashree” in 2006.
Dr. Yashodhar Mathpal
Place and Date of Birth
6th June 1939 at village Naula (Almora), Uttarakhand (INDIA)
Five year diploma in Fine Arts (Govt. Collage of Arts and Craft, Lucknow, 1962)
Master of Arts (Agra University, 1971)
Ph.D. in Archaeology (Poona University, 1978)
Diploma in Gandhian Studies (Lucknow 1965)
Field of Research & Interest
Prehistoric Archaeology, Rock Art, Folk Art, Wood Craft, Museum Science, Indian Culture, Philosophy and above all the Water Colour Technique.
Research Experience in Rock Art
Documented Rock Art motifs manually in water colours from over 400 rock shelters located in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh states (1973-2007). One of the sites where the first overall recording of painting was made, is Bhimbetka, now a UNESCO protected World Heritage site.
Worked as a Research Assistant in the project “Investigations into the prehistory of rock shelters at Bhimbetka, Central India” under the guidance of Prof. V. N Misra (1978-80).
Worked with French and Italian research teams under the project related to Rock Art, sponsored by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi (1990-1993).
Prepared an Expert System for meaning analysis of Rock Art motifs with the help of Knowledge Engineer. The project was sponsored jointly by UNESCO and the IGNCA (1993).
Prepared four research monographs on Rock Art of Uttarakhand, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh and also three on traditional wood carvings of Uttarakhand (1983 and 1998).
Was invited as a Visiting Professor at the Maison Des Sciences (Musee Del’ Homme) Paris (2001).
Conducted archaeological excavation inside a painted shelter at the site of Museum of Man , Bhopal (1982).
Participated in the archaeological excavations of the Stone Age hbitations at Bhimbetka, taking part in digging, drawing of sections and analysis of stone tools assemblages under the guidance of Prof. V.N. Misra (1973-77).
Discovered rock art sites in Madhya Pradesh (1976), Karnataka (1979) and Kumaon Himalayas (1985 and 2009).
Discovered palaeoliths in the Kumaon Shivaliks (1984).
Chaired the World Wide Congress of Rock Art, NEWS -95 organized by International Federation of Rock Art Organization (IFRAO), Turino, Italy (1995).
Invited as a Gandhian Scholar in the second International Congress of Rupestrian Archaeology to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of India, Darfo-Boario, Italy (1997).
Co-Chairman of Symposium ‘Rock Art of Asia and Australia’ in the International Seminar at Universidade DeTras-os-Montes e Altadouro, Vila Real, Portugal, (1998).
Invited to deliver the ‘Fourth Wakanker Memorial Lecture’ at Karnataka University, Bijapur (1998).
Invited to deliver the key note address at National Seminar on Indian Rock Art organized by The Asiatic Society, Kolkata, (2003).
Invited to deliver the ‘Third Rahul Sankritayan Lecture’ at Nanital, (1992).
Invited for a lecture on ‘Kumaoni Folk Art’ at Lok Kala Sansthan, Lucknow (1993).
I- Books :
Prehistoric Rock Paintings of Bhimbetka, Central India, Abhinav Publication, New Delhi, 1984.
Rock Art of the Bhonrawali Hill, Rock art Society of India, Agra, 1998.
Rock Art in Kumaon Himalaya, IGNCA & Aryan Books International, 1995.
Rock Art in Kerala, IGNCA & Aryan Books International, 1998.
Kumaon Painting, Office of Development Commissioner, Laghu Udhyog, Uttarakhand, Srinagar, 1998 (English & Hindi).
Uttarakhand ka Kashtha Shilp, Office of Development Commissioner, Laghu Udhyog Uttarakhand, Srinagar, 1997 (Hindi).
Pragaitihasik Manv ke Karya Kalap, Ethnographic & Folk Culture Society Lucknow, 1987 (Hindi).
Kumaon ki Surya evam Kartikeya Pratimayen, Uttarakhand Sodh Sansthan Publication, Panthnagar, 1994 (Hindi).
Samveta, Shri Almora Book Depot Almora 1996 (Hindi).
Samahita, Shri Almora Book Depot Almora 1996 (Hindi).
Chitrit Pashan, Geetadham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2002 (Hindi).
Sutre Mani Gana Iva, Geetadham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2002 (Hindi).
Durga-chhaya, Geetadham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2001 (Hindi).
Geeta-chhaya, Geetadham Prakashan Bhimtal, 1998 (Hindi).
Ekant ke Bol Geetadham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2002 (Hindi).
Satya Kahaun likhi kagad kore, Lok Varta Shodh Sansthan, Sonbhadra, 2002 (Auto-biography in Hindi).
Ramopakhyan, Geetdham Prakashan Bhimtal 2002 (Hindi).
Puranon mai Ram Katha, Geetdham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2004 (Hindi).
Moti (Collection of Stories), Geetdham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2006 (Hindi).
Aba kya Hoga, Geetdham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2007 (Hindi).
Deer in Rock Art of India and Europe, (Co-author) IGNCA New Delhi, 1993.
Panchmukhi Ronp ke Chitrit Shilashyaya, Unpublished (Hindi).
The Vanishing Rainbow (A study of costumes & ornaments of Uttarakhand), 2012.
The Kumaon Woodwork, Geetdham Prakashan Bhimtal, 2012.
Traditional Wood Carvings of Chamoli District of Garhwal Uttarakhand, 2012.
The Lakhu Udyar Paintings, 2012.
Rock Art of India, Part I, 2012.
Rock Art of India, Part II, 2012.
Upanishad Vigyan, 2004, (Hindi).
Shareer Yatra (Auto-biography in Hindi), 2011.
Prakeernak, 2007, (Hindi).
Suman-mal, 2012, (Hindi).
Bachuli-gusyana, 2011, (Hindi).
Self Portraits, 2012.
Dr Yashodhar Mathpal : A Painter, 2012.
Seven Large Caves with Paintings (unpublished).
II- English Articles :
Mathpal Y I975; ‘Prehistoric Art of Bhimbetka, Central India: A Preliminary Study’, Journal of the University of Pune, No. 41:95-108.
Mathpal Y I976; 'Rock Art of India’, Journal of Indian History, Trivandrum, Vol. LIV, Part 1:27-51.
Mathpal Y I976 a; 'Rock Art of India: An Ornithographical Interpretation, Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute (Bull. DCRI) Pune, Vol. XXXV, Nos. 3-5:83-93.
Mathpal Y 1977; 'Further evidence of giraffe-like long-necked animal in the rock paintings of India', Bull DCRl, Vol. XXXVl Nos. 1-4:110¬ 114.
Mathpal Y 1977 a; ‘Patani ki Pahari : A Prehistoric Art Site' National Herald, Lucknow. May 22.
Mathpal Y 1977 b; Prehistoric Art of Bhimbetka', Prehistoric Man and his Art in Central India, Pune 19-22,
Mathpal 1977 c; ‘Arts and Man: A Prehistoric Survey', Paper No. 22, III Conference. Ethno. and Folk Culture Society, Lucknow,
Mathpal 1778; ‘A Prehistoric painted shelter near Bhimbetka, M.P.’, Paper read at the 4th Annual conference of the Ethno. and Folk Culture Society, Ahmadabad.
Mathpal Y 1978 a; 'Roots of Indian Art', U.P.A,A. Panorama, News Letter Vol. nos. VI:3-4.
Mathpal Y 1978 b; 'The Technique of Reproducing Rock Paintings', Bull DCRI, Vol. XXXVII: 68-70.
Mathpal Y 1979; ' Rock Art of Bhimbetka region, Central India', Man and Environment. Ahmadabad, Vol. III :27-33 (co-author-V.N. Mishra).
Mathpal Y. 1979 a; ‘Rock Paintings and Other drawings’ ed. V.N. Mishra Dictionary of Indian Archaeology.
Mathpal Y 1981; 'Prehistoric Art of India', The Eastern Anthropologist, Lucknow Vol. XXXIV, no. 1: 1-26.
Mathpal Y 1981 a; 'Evidence of Prehistoric manmade Shelters in the rock paintings of Central India' , Bull DCRI, Vol. XL :119-123.
Mathpal Y 1981 b; 'How to date a rock painting?' Paper presented at the International Seminar on Rock Art of India, Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Bhopal, 1981, Rock Art of India (ed. K.K. Chakaravarty), Arnold Heinemann, Delhi 1984: 57-60.
Mathpal Y 1981 c; ‘Prehistoric rock paintings at the site of National Museum of Man on the Shyamala Hill, Bhopal,, paper presented at the seminar on rock paintings during the centenary celebration of the Discovery of rock paintings in India, org. by the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Bhopal (co-author R.S. Negi). 1981, Rock Art of lndia, 1984 : 154-158.
1981 d; ‘Conservation problems of rock shelters with prehistoric paintings at the site of National Museum of Man at Bhopal’, paper presented at the Eight conference and All India Seminar org. by Ethnographic and Folk Culture Society, Lucknow Jan 28-30 (1981).
1983; ‘Adult education and other problems of the cave dwellers of Kumaun and development schemes of the Government’, Vanyajati 1983 Vol. 31, no. 3 : 5-8.
1983 a; ‘Rock Art of India with special reference to South India’, Dravidian Encyclopedia, Trivandrum International n.d. Institute of Dravidian Linguistics. n.d.
1984; ‘Newly discovered rock paintings in Central India showing honey collection’, Bee World: Journal of the International Bee Research Association, U.K, Vol. 65, no. 3:121-126.
1985; ‘The Hunter-Gatherer Way of life Depicted in the Mesolithic Rock Paintings of Central India’ in Recent Advances in Indo-Pacific Prehistory : Proceedings of the International Symposium held at Poona, December, 19-22 1978 (ed. Misra, V.N. and Peter Bellwood), New Delhi, Oxford & IBH publishing Co. 1985 : 177.183.
1985 a; Review article-Prehistoric Indian Rock Paintings (by Erwin Neumayer), The Eastern Anthropologist Vol. 38, No.3: 245-249, 1985,
1985 b; ‘Study of Indian Rock Art: Then and Now’, Paper presented at the Seminar on ‘Indian Anthropology-Then and Now’ at Lucknow, Dec. 14-15, 1985.
1985 c; ‘Rock Paintings of Bhimbetka and Karnataka : Theme, Style and Technique’, Paper read at the National Seminar during the Centenary Celebrations: 1985 org. by the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums in 1985 Karnataka, Government of Karnataka, Mysore.
1985 d; ‘Our Heritage of Rock Art and Its conservation’, INTACH News letter: The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, N. Delhi1985.No.:b-16.
1986; ‘Stone Age Animals of Game and Worship as evidenced in Indian Rock Art’, Paper Presented at ‘The World Archaeological Congress’ at Southampton and London, 1-7 September 1986.
1988; ,Some newly discovered painted rock shelters in Kumaun region’, Archaeological Studies (ed. P. Singh and O. P. Tondon), BHU, 1988: 46-49.
1989; ‘Local Cultures of Uttarakhand in North Indian and Folk Culture Museum at Bhimtal’, Bulletin of the World Archaeological Congress, Southampton, 1989, No.3: 18-22.
1989 a; ‘In the Land of Eucalyptus’, Himalaya Man and Nature, 1989 : Vol. XlII, No.1 :2-5.
1989 b; ‘When I Painted Professor Sankalia’, Man and Environment, 1989, Vol. XIV, No. 2:112-113.
1990; ‘Problems of Conservation of Rock Art in Uttarakhand’, Paper presented at the Seminar on Indian Culture, D.E.I. Agra, 22-24, Feb. 1990.
1991; ‘Rock Art sites in India and problems of their preservation and Management’, Purakala, Agra 1991, Vol. 2, No. 1:22-23.
1991; ‘The study of Rock Art: A Retrospect’, paper presented in a workshop: Development and Application of Export System in Lifestyle studies (under the aegis of UNESCO) by IGNCA, N. Delhi, Dec. 9-11, 1997:1-16.
1991 a; Comments on Bednarik's article, Purakala, Agra 1991, Vol II, 1: 15-16.
1991 b; ‘An Expert System for meaning analysis of prehistoric rock paintings’, (Y. Mathpal and A. Jha), Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delh i, 9-11 Dec. 1991.
1992; 'Rock Art Studies in India', Rock Art in the Old World, (ed. M Lorblanchet) New Delhi, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 1992:207-214.
1993; 'Man and Environment as documented in Rock Art of India' The March of Archaeology: The Last Five decades (Sankalia Memorial Volume), Vishwa Bharti : Shanti Niketan 1993.
1993 a; ‘No Rivalry, No Olympics Please’, in 'International Newsletter' on Rock Art (INORA) (ed. Jeam Clothes), Foix 1993 no. 6: 14.
1993 b; ‘An up to date Picture of Indian Rock Art’, in ‘Global Conference on Rock Art' at lGNCA, New Delhi, 27 Nov.- 7 Dec. 1993.
1993 c; ‘Teaching of Rock Art in India’, Purakala Agra, 1993, Vol. 4, nos. 1.-2:47-49.
1993 d; Review Article - 'Naga Art' The Eastern Anthropologist, Lucknow Vol. 46, no.-4, Oct.- Dec. 1993: 433-436.
1993 c; ‘Rock Art Studies: A search for individual hands and subjects based compositions’ in Rock Art Studies: The Post-Stylistic Era or where do we go from here ? (ed. Lorblanchet M. and P. Bahn) Oxford, Oxbow Monograph-35: 15-18. (1993).
1994; ‘Rock Art of Jhiri, Central India’, Project report submitted to IGNCA, 1994.
1994 a; ‘The Grammar of Rock Art’, paper sent for the National Seminar on Recent Trends in Archaeological Research, org. by Telugu University, Srishailam, 1994.
1994 b; Rock Art Technology (Unpub.) 1994.
1995; ‘Using Drawing Talent for collection of Rock Art Samples for Museum’, paper presented in NEWS-Congress, Turino-Italy, 30 August¬-6 September 1995.
1995 a; ‘Motives for Rock Art Production : Personal Experience’, Purakala, 1995, Vol. 6, No. 1-2:55.
1996; Comments on N. Chandramouli's article: 'Concept of Style in Indian Rock Art Research: A Perspective’ in 'Purakala' , Vol. 7 nos. 1¬2:31-32 (1996).
1996 a; ‘Painted Motifs of the Bhonrawali Hill (Central India), Recent Perspectives on Prehistoric Art in India and Allied Subjects’, (ed. R.K. Sharma and K.K. Tripathi), N. Delhi, Aryan Books International: 36-40. (1996).
1996 b; ‘Indian Rock Art Today’ in Rock Art Studies: News of the World-I (ed. Bahn P. and A. Fossati), Oxford, Oxbow Monograph..72: 133¬ (1996).
1996 c; ‘Rock Art in World Perspective’ in Vaichariki (ed. A. Rawat), Nainital, U.P. Academy of Administration, Vol.-8, Issue-2:137-146.
1997; ‘Rock Art in the Himalayas’, Paper presented in the 2nd International Congress of Rupestrian Archaeology, Darfo-Boario-Terme (Italy), 2-5 October 1997.
1997 a; ‘Eight Newly acquired Vir-kham (hero-stones) by the Museum of Folk Culture, Bhimtal’, Himkanti, Srinagar (Garhwal), 1997.
1997 b; ‘Rock Art of India: Its Past, Present and Future’, The Fourth Dr. V.S. Wakankar memorial lecture, University, Bijapur, 6-7 March 1998.
1998; 'The Vanishing Tribal Culture' in ‘Perspectives in Tribal Development: Focus on Uttar Pradesh’ (ed. Saxena H.S. et al.), Lucknow, Ethnographic and Folk Culture Society 1998, pages 100-106.
1999 'Mythical Creatures in Indian Rock Art’, Paper Presented in the IRCA Congress, Rippon (U.S.A.) in session: Symbolic Semitic, Mythical and Sexual Expressions in Rock Art, 1999.
1999 a; 'Artisans (Shilpakars) in the Traditional Society of Uttarakhand', The Dis inherited., Almora, Sahayog: 1999, pages 18-24.
2001; 'Traditions of Art and Craft in the Uttarakhand Himalayas' in Rethinking Indian Culture: Challenges and Responses (ed. Sitakant Mahapatra), Cuttack, Institute of Oriental and Orissian Studies 2001, pages 378-388.
2001a; 'Rock Art on the Hero Memorial stones in the Kumaun Himalayas of North India’ in 'Archaeologia E Arte Rupestre L' Europa Le Alpi¬ La Val Camonica' (ed. Angelo Fossati and Patrizia Frontini) AlIi Del Convengnodi Studi : Oar fo - Boario-Tenne, Italy, 2001, pages 37-40.
2002; 'Living Traditions and Legacy of Rock Art in Kumaun Region of Uttaranchal', Paper presented at the National Seminar on Ethno-archaeology in India: Methodology, Problems and Prospects, Organised by Centre for Archaeological studies and Training, Eastern India, with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (lGRMS) Bhopal and Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata, 23-25 Nov. 2002.
2002 a; ‘India: The Land of Living Traditions’ (2002).
2003; 'Rock Art Research in India: How far we have come so far, and where to go now?’, Key note address in the National Seminar on Rock Art Research in India and Pioneering Role of Asiatic Society', Organised by The Asiatic Society, Kolkata and IGRMS, Bhopal, 24-25 March 2003.
2003 a; ‘Significance of Rock Paintings and Folk Paintings in Anthropological Studies and Museum’ paper presented in 'National Seminar on Anthropological Studies and Museum presentation', (IGRMS, Bhopal, 12-15 July 2003).
2004; 'Rock Art, Folk Art and the Tribal Art in Uttaranchal', Paper presented in the International Seminar an Indigenous Arts, Organised by the Asiatic Society, Kolkata, 7-8 Dec. 2004.
2006; 'Legacy of Art and Culture in the Kumaun Region' Souvenir published by Kumaun Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited, Nainital on Pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar (ed. T. Vaishnav), 2006, pages 66-72.
2007 'Prehistoric Rock Paintings of Bhimbetka', Gurudakshina : Facets of Indian Archaeology (Part II) (ed. A.K. Kanungo), BAR International Series, 1665, England, pages 28-35 (2007).
III- Hindi Articles
Have written more than 180 articles and research papers in various national newspapers, magazines and journals.
Over a dozen National and International Societies.
In many International Seminars on Rock Art and Archaeology in USA, UK, France, Italy, Portugal, Australia and India.
Exhibitions : 29 one-man shows at
Southampton (U.K.) 1986;
Ripon (U.S.A.), 1999;
Paris, 2001; Ville France, 1986; Gourdon, 2001; Foix, 1988; Cahor, 1988 & Toulouse (France), 1988;
Vila Real (Portugal), 1998; Turino, 1995 & Darfo-Boario (Italy), 1997;
Darwin, 1988 & Cairns (Australia),1992;
New Delhi, 1993; Mumbai, 1975; Ahmadabad, 1978; Pune, 1977 & 79; Ujjain, 2003; Bhopal, 2003; Nainital, 1992; Lucknow, 1976 and Indore, 2012.
Three exhibitions by the State Lalit Kala Academy, in 1964, 1971 and 2000.
Collections : Painting are in the collections of the.
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi;
Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), Bhopal;
Australian National University, Canberra;
Hunterian Museum, Scotland;
Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya, Bhimtal (Nainital) and
Private houses in U.S.A., U.K., France, Italy, Portugal and India
1. Deccan College Research Fellowship (1973)
2. U.G.C. Junior Fellowship (1974-1976)
3. U.G.C. Senior Fellowship (1977-1978
4. U.G.C. Research Associate (1978-1980)
5. I.C.H.R. Fellowship (1982-84)
6. Crafts Museum Fellowship (1985-86)
7. IGNCA Fellowship (1993-1997)
8. Development Commissioner, Handicraft Fellowship (1998-2000)
Prizes and Felicitations :
1. Gold Medal and several prizes on Water Colour Paintings.
2. ‘Padma Shri’ (2006).
3. ‘Kala Shri’ (1985).
4. International Honorary Diploma on Rock Art, Turino (Italy, 1995).
5. ‘Hindu Ratna’ (2012)
6. ‘Kedar Gaurav’ (2005)
7. ‘Kumaon Gaurav’ (2009)
8. Akhil Bhartiya Kalidas Chitra Aivam Murty Kala Pradarshani, Ujjain (1976-1977).
9. Felicitated as an eminent painter, during the centenary celebrations of Lucknow Arts College, (2011)
10. State representative to Central Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, (2004).
11. Nominated Vice President of the Uttarakhand Sanskriti, Sahitya evam Kala Parishad (State Academy for Literature, Art and Culture), in 2006 by Govt. of Uttarakhand.
12. Established the Lok Sanskriti Sangrahalaya (Museum of Folk Culture) at Bhimtal, (1983).