This detail from the main panel of rock paintings at Game Pass, in the Natal Drakensberg of South Africa, shows a human figure apparently pulling the tail of an eland, the sort of thing no sane person would do in reality!

The art at Game Pass was one of the first sites used by David Lewis-Williams to test his new theories about prehistoric art in the 1970s, and this is an image he often used to illustrate his explanation in lectures.

The man is a shaman (spirit healer) entering a state of trance, and following his spirit guide into the spirit world. Trancing is akin to dying, (or drowning, sometimes) so both the shaman and his guide (the eland) are shown with their legs crossed, on the point of collapse, and the antelope has its head lowered for the same reason. They also both have their hair standing on end, another indicator of the uncomfortable sensation of passing into trance. The shaman holds the tail of his guide, partly perhaps to follow him more closely, perhaps for support, and also possibly because he is drawing spirit power for healing from the guide.

Tags

archaeology, rock art, parietal art, drakensberg, natal, south africa, prehistory, antelope, shamans

Comments

  • Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos
    Konstantinos A...almost 4 years ago

  • shadowlea
    shadowleaabout 3 years ago

    CONGRATULATIONS … well done

  • DeborahZaragoza
    DeborahZaragozaabout 3 years ago

    congratulations on your challenge!

  • Thank you kindly, Deborah! – and congrats on your win! Plenty of stunning art and photos in your portfolio – I’ll definitely pop in again soon!

    – trobe

  • steppeland
    steppelandalmost 3 years ago

    fabulous!

  • Thank you – for comment and favourite.

    – trobe

  • HELUA
    HELUAalmost 3 years ago

    Fascinating image and text!!

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