Myth of oil painting's invention broken

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London, Apr 24 (UNI) Oil painting was invented in Asia and not Europe, as was earlier thought.

Caves in Afghan region of Bamiyan, northwest of Kabul, decorated with precious murals from 5th to 9th century AD have become the focus of a major discovery by revealing Buddhist oil paintings that predate those in Renaissance Europe by hundreds of years.

Scientists proved through experiments performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble that the paints used were based on oil, hundreds of years before the technique was ''invented'' in Europe, the Daily Telegraph reported.

In many European history and art books, oil painting is said to have started in the 15th century in Europe, but the scientists found the Bamiyan paintings date back to the mid-7th century AD.

The murals show scenes with Buddhas in vermilion robes sitting cross-legged amid palm leaves and mythical creatures. Other motifs show crouching monkeys, men facing one another or palm leaves delicately intertwined.

Ms Yoko Taniguchi, leader of the team, from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo concluded that a dozen out of the 50 caves were painted with oil painting technique, using perhaps walnut and poppy seed oils.

''This is the earliest clear example of oil paintings in the world, although drying oils were already used by ancient Romans and Egyptians, but only as medicines and cosmetics,'' she said.

''My European colleagues were shocked because they always believed oil paintings were invented in Europe. They couldn't believe such techniques could exist in some Buddhist cave deep in the countryside,'' she added.


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