Optical Illusions of Ancient India - I - Mahabalipuram

The ancient city of Mahabalipuram in India is a very mysterious place. Some of the rocks will make you wonder if they were indeed built by Gods. On one of the pillars, a unique optical illusion is carved. Archaeologists estimate that it was carved around 7th century A.D which makes this the oldest optical illusion ever carved. It is at least 1300 years old!

     Watch the video above or read on!
This type of illusion is sometimes called 2 in 1 art. If you look at this sculpture casually, you are more likely to see a cow and a calf on its mother's udder. You can see the cow's horns, the cow licking the calf's head as they often do, and you can also see all the four legs of the cow and its tail. Seems like a regular piece of carving.

Cow and Calf
However, if you put your hand over the center, the carving transforms into an elephant and a baby elephant. You can see the elephant's trunk and the whole body with legs and the tail. And the baby elephant is standing between its mothers legs with its face and the trunk looking at the opposite direction.
Elephant and its baby
Needless to say, this is a pretty incredible sculpture. Historians and archaeologists often portray ancient builders as simple-minded, unsophisticated people. Carvings like these cannot be conceived and carved unless they had a fabulous imagination combined with superior sculpting skills.
Just a simple movement of the hand is enough to reveal the illusion
Recently, I found yet another optical illusion at Darasuram Temple, which is about 850 years. Unlike Mahabalipuram, the carving below has been remarkably preserved and has not corroded. To read about this illusion, click here.

 optical illusion sculpture at Darasuram

1 comments:

I do not see the elephant!

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