Let’s start as we mean to go on with the Archaic Visions reboot, and open the first strand with which this blog will continue – Rock Art of Southern Africa. Here I present rather a long article, the first in this series, which provides an introduction to Bushman Rock Art and Culture. It is rather academic in style in places, and the intention is to present to my readers a style of art and painting which shares next to nothing with familiar Western or Oriental art traditions in its method, approach, interconnection with religious and ritual practices, and even how it interacts with the environment in which it is found. If at times this series of articles seems to go into excessive detail, then this only reflects my genuine enthusiasm for Bushman rock art and engravings, and my deeply-held desire to understand, and to see these remarkable painted images through the eyes of the remarkable people who painted them. In this spirit, let’s begin this long, winding and hopefully fascinating journey into the world of the Southern African hunter-gatherer…
Southern Africa is home to one of the most fascinating, and yet least well-known, art traditions in the world. Running in a near continuous line of rock shelters from the Cederberg in the West to the Drakensberg-uKhahlamba mountain range in the east, as well as across other sites in the subcontinent, the rock paintings and engravings of the indigenous hunter gatherer peoples of South Africa and beyond – the Bushman, San, or Khoi-San peoples and their cultural ancestors – represents one of humanity’s most distinctive art styles and, until its extinction some 150 to 200 years ago, one of the longest running.