Around 1918-1919, Mukul Dey made a trip to the Ajanta and Bagh caves to recreate the frescoes there. Dey’s circumstances were modest and the trip was funded by commissioned portraits. The work was eventually published in book form in 1925. “Dancing Girls” is possibly part of this or at least inspired by Dey’s trip given the costumes and hairstyles.
The paintings and artwork of the Buddhist caves of Ajanta remain a unique and colourful record of an ancient life that was. The people seem to emerge from rock fully formed and vibrant and this art style is one that has not been given enough credit as a major school in the history of the representation of the human figure in art. —S