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AFRICAN ROCK ART

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Author Topic: AFRICAN ROCK ART  (Read 5608 times)
Bianca
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« on: August 10, 2008, 09:20:49 am »








                                       

                                         The Linton Panel.
                                          Image courtesy of the South African Museum, Cape Town.

This rock painting was extricated from a shelter in the Drakensberg Mountains and currently resides in the South African Museum, Cape Town.

Its images of antelopes and humans have been interpreted as evocations of Khoisan trance experiences.

Beautifully rendered in subtle tones of red and white, this is among the most famous South African rock paintings.

Although its date of execution is not known, it is estimated to have been painted sometime during the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries A.D.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 09:40:38 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2008, 09:23:55 am »










Rock paintings and engravings are Africa's oldest continuously practiced art form.

Depictions of elegant human figures, richly hued animals, and figures combining human and animal features—called therianthropes and associated with shamanism—continue to inspire admiration for
their sophistication, energy, and direct, powerful forms. The apparent universality of these images is deceptive; content and style range widely over the African continent.



Nevertheless, African rock art can be divided into three broad geographical zones—

southern,

central, and

northern.



The art of each of these zones is distinctive and easily recognizable, even to an untrained eye.



Not all rock art in these three zones is prehistoric; in some areas these arts flourished into the late nineteenth century, while in other areas rock art continues to be made today.

In the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa, a number of rock paintings depict clashes between San (Bushmen) people and European colonists mounted on horses and armed with rifles. Many of the Drakensberg works use subtle polychrome shading that gives their subjects a hint of three-dimensional presence.

The product of many authors, time periods, and cultures, the flowing naturalism and lively sense of movement of the best rock art attests to the conviction of masterful hands and trained eyes.



Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 09:46:02 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2008, 09:41:50 am »










                                        African Rock Art: Tassili-n-Ajjer (?8000 B.C.–?)






Tassili-n-Ajjer in Algeria is one of the most famous North African sites of rock painting.

Its imagery documents a verdant Sahara teeming with life that stands in stark contrast to the arid desert the region has since become.

Tassili paintings and engravings, like those of other rock art areas in the Sahara, are commonly divided into at least four chronological periods based on style and content. These are:



an archaic tradition depicting wild animals whose antiquity is unknown but certainly goes back well before 4500 B.C.;

a so-called bovidian tradition, which corresponds to the arrival of cattle in North Africa between 4500 and 4000 B.C.;

a "horse" tradition, which corresponds to the appearance of horses in the North African archaeological record from about 2000 B.C. onward;

and a "camel" tradition, which emerges around the time of Christ when these animals first appear in North Africa.



Engravings of animals such as the extinct giant buffalo are among the earliest works, followed later by paintings in which color is used to depict humans and animals with striking naturalism.

In the last period, chariots, shields, and camels appear in the rock paintings.

Although close to the Iberian Peninsula, it is currently believed that the rock art of Algeria and Tassili developed independently of that in Europe.



While these traditions are successive, it does appear that earlier ones continued on for varying lengths of time after the appearance of later ones. Two important qualifiers need to be made. First, many scholars have recently questioned a pan-Saharan chronology and there is a move away from grandiose chronological schemes to concentrating more on understanding regional chronological variability. Second, the Sahara, given its vast size and various political complications, is still an inadequately researched area in terms of rock art and very few dates exist. As more work is done and techniques for dating advance, it is likely that this four-period dating scheme will be modified in particular regions and that more will be learned about the origins and demise of Saharan rock art.



Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art   
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2008, 09:49:40 am »













                                                T H E   C E N T R A L   Z O N E





Of the three zones, the art of Central Africa is the least studied and least well understood. This zone stretches from the Zambezi River to below the Sahara Desert. The art differs significantly from that to the south and to the north in that images of animals and human beings do not predominate. Instead, the art is principally comprised of finger-painted, monochromatic geometric images. Because of the finger-painted geometric images, some scholars are investigating the link between the central zone and the Khoi art of the southern zone.



There is one anomaly in the central zone—the art of the Kondoa region in central Tanzania.

Although very faded with age, the art in this region is not finger painted but, like the fine-line southern African images, is also brush painted. In subject matter and style, it is more closely related to southern African San painting—and, in particular, that of Zimbabwe—than to any of the images in the central zone. It is believed that this enigmatic body of art is closely related to the Hadza and Sandawe people who, until recently, were still involved in hunting and gathering.



Geoffrey Blundell

Origins Centre,
University of the Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg, South Africa

« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 09:52:42 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2008, 09:55:11 am »


                         

                         Kasama Hills, Northern Province, Zambia.

                         Courtesy of the Rock Art Research Institute,
                         University of the Witwatersrand,
                         South Africa.
                         ZAM NAX84 3



A typical enigmatic finger-painted, geometric form from the central zone
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 09:57:34 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2008, 09:59:11 am »



                                           

Dedza Hills, Central Region, Malawi.

Courtesy of the Rock Art Research Institute,
University of the Witwatersrand,
South Africa.
MAL NAM3

A nested U-shape form covered in tiny, white dots. The symbolism of such images is elusive.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:02:18 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2008, 10:04:12 am »


                       


Dedza Hills, Central Region, Malawi.


Courtesy of the Rock Art Research Institute,
University of the Witwatersrand,
South Africa.
MAL NAM11

A finger-painted quadruped in the characteristic thick white pigment of Bantu-speaker's rock art
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:06:04 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2008, 10:07:27 am »



                         

                          Emerging from the central African plateau are isolated hills such as
                          this one in Malawi.

                          It is in these hills that both hunter-gatherer and Bantu-speaker's
                          rock paintings are found.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:10:40 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2008, 10:12:31 am »












                                      AFRICAN ROCK ART OF THE NORTHERN ZONE





The art of the Sahara is diverse and still not well understood. Conventionally, the art is believed to broadly fit into one of four stylistic and chronological categories. The earliest of these, known as the Bubaline Period, comprises engravings only, and there are many images of wild animals and therianthropic (part-human, part-animal) figures. The three later periods—Bovidian, Caballine, and Camelline—include both paintings and engravings and are marked by the appearance of specific domestic animals in the art.



In spite of an initial breakthrough in the understanding of the symbolism of these images in terms of the beliefs and practices of specific extant Saharan peoples in 1966, little further work has been done in using this approach to investigate the meaning of the images. Many new discoveries have been made in recent years; scholars are hopeful that among these a clue to the meaning of some of the images will be found.



Geoffrey Blundell

Origins Centre,
University of the Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg,
South Africa
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:14:44 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2008, 10:16:43 am »


                         

                          The Dabous site in northern Niger.

                           A Tuareg sits atop a rock right above a slab entirely covered with petroglyphs.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:18:15 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2008, 10:19:47 am »



                                            

The Dabous giraffes.

An exceptional representation of giraffes.

The first one, a male, is seventeen feet tall.

The lines issuing from their mouths extend to a human figure
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:21:13 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2008, 10:22:42 am »

 


                         

                           Head of the male giraffe.

                           The techniques used to make this spectacular work of art include deep
                           carving, low relief for the spots, smoothing of the lines, and polishing of
                           the head.
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2008, 10:27:05 am »



                         

                          Head of the second giraffe, a female closely following the male.

                          A cast of the animals was made in 1999 by a professional firm
                          (Mérindol, Avignon, France)
                           during an expedition led by David Coulson
                           (Trust for African Rock Art) and
                           funded by the Bradshaw Foundation.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:29:25 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2008, 10:31:13 am »


                       








                                          AFRICAN ROCK ART OF THE SOUTHERN ZONE





This zone stretches from the South African Cape to the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia formed by the Zambezi River. The rock painting of this region is characterized by exquisitely minute detail and complex techniques of shading. Engravings are also found in this zone, generally on boulders and rocks in the interior plateau of southern Africa, while paintings are found in the mountainous regions that fringe the plateau. There are only a few places where paintings and engravings are found in the same shelter. Aboriginal San hunter-gatherers made most of these paintings and engravings.



While the rock art of southern Africa is different from that of the central and northern zones, it is not homogenous. There is, for example, great diversity between the art of the Matopo Hills in Zimbabwe, the Brandberg in Namibia, and the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. Nevertheless, scholars have suggested that a great deal of San art throughout southern Africa may be explicitly and implicitly linked to San shamanic religion. Principally, a great deal of San art depicts their central most important ritual, the healing or trance dance, the complex somatic experiences of dancers,

In addition to San rock art, there are also rock paintings and engravings made by closely related Khoi pastoralists. These people acquired domestic stock through close interaction with Bantu-speaking people some 2,000 years or more ago. Although there is some evidence that they also made engravings, Bantu-speakers' rock art is characterized by finger painting in a thick, white pigment. Often found superimposed over San or Khoi paintings, this art is implicated in initiation rituals and in political protest and is not a shamanistic art.



Geoffrey Blundell

Origins Centre,
University of the Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg,
South Africa
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2008, 10:34:38 am »


                         

Lonyana Rock,
Kwazulu-Natal,
South Africa.

Image courtesy of Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
RSA LNR6

The southern zone is characterized by very detailed, fine-lined San paintings.

This image is one of two known circular depictions of the curing or trance dance.

Figures dance around a seated figure apparently healing another reclining person enveloped in a kaross.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 10:36:15 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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