An Entrancing Tail

trobe

Trowbridge, United Kingdom

Artist's Description

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.

Artwork Comments

  • Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos
  • shadowlea
  • DeborahZaragoza
  • trobe
  • steppeland
  • trobe
  • HELUA
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10%off for joining

the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.