San Rock Art
It was thus vital to all inhabiting the manifest world that transcendental journeys be made from time to time, the 'inner traveller' returning empowered with benefits for the individual, the clan and the surroundings.
Southern African San Rock Painting as Social Intervention: A Study of Rain-Control Images
Largest of the antelope, the oft-depicted eland, appears to have symbolised both worlds - the spiritual power essential for trance, and fertility on the earthly plane Some sites and 35 individual images have been catalogued, a tally sure to increase as exploration continues. The oldest painting on a rock shelter wall in this World Heritage Site dates back about 2 years, but paint chips at least a thousand years older have also been found.
Bushman hunters, cave painting. Drakensberg Photo: M.
Visitors to the Park may not overnight in caves or beneath rock shelters adorned with San paintings - nor light fires, wet the art to 'bring out the colours' for photos, which results in their destruction, or vandalise them in any way. Red Data. There can be no doubt that the Drakensberg's 'superlative natural phenomena and exceptional natural beauty' are inextricably linked to the region's 'unique richness of bio-diversity' and 'threatened species of universal value' - three of the criteria demanded for inclusion in the key family of World Heritage Site Natural Listings.
Of the 2 plant species recorded in the Park, a remarkable 98 are endemic or near-endemic to this protected area. Crowning glory of these - in the eyes of many botanists - remains the ultra- rare Protea Nubigena found nowhere on earth besides a high ridge in the Royal Natal sector. Evolution of this uniqueness within an equally-outstanding diversity of flora begins with the variation of regional altitudes - between a little over 1 m to more than three-and-a-half times that elevation.
Add to this wide-ranging topography the effects of climate, orientation of the sun, soil and geology, slope and drainage plus the crucial role of fire, and a cornucopia of inestimable value is the result.
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Among these plant communities - aquatic, forest, scrub, fynbos, savannah, mountain grassland and heath - are a large number of species included in both the national and international Red Data encyclopedias of threatened plants with species listed globally as endangered. Bottlebrush in bloom, Drakensberg Photo: R. Ten species found within the Park are listed as important from the world conservation viewpoint.
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These include the globally-endangered Cape parrot and white-winged flufftail, and the globally threatened corncrake, lesser kestral and yellow-breasted pipit. The blue crane, Cape vulture and bald ibis are counted as globally-vulnerable, while the pallid harrier and black harrier appear on the near-threatened list. Among the Park's 48 species of mammals are several that proliferated in great numbers prior to the arrival of white hunters. At the base of immense rock faces high in the Drakensberg, the passing of centuries and a slow process of weathering have caused the sandstone walls to gradually fall away, forming overhangs and shallow caves.
In Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears , these hollows serve as shelters for chacma baboons patiently waiting out a rainfall.
They overlook a dramatic landscape, where miles of waving grassland stretch out into the distance. On clear days, the passing sun plays upon these rock walls, where painted figures bear witness to the existence of a people who once called these mountains home.
Kruger Park Facts | Rock Art
They are the San, hunter-gatherers who are believed to have lived in this area for 4, years, as far back as the Stone Age. Though the San people once lived throughout Southern Africa, Bantu-speaking people migrated into the region in the 13th century, and the San retreated into the valleys below the Drakensberg, where the rock overhangs would have provided shelter from the elements.
Subsequently, with European colonization, white farmers appropriated more and more of the remaining land. The sparse historical record suggests that the San people tried to adapt, forming alliances with some of their new neighbors and stealing horses from settlers. But by the end of the 19th century, the San disappeared from the Drakensberg.
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Among the hundreds of rock shelters in the Drakensberg there are literally thousands of individual rock paintings, with animals, humans, and inanimate objects drawn in black, white, red, orange, and yellow. Many of the rock faces where the art has been found have several layers of paintings superimposed on top of each other. Among the animals represented in these paintings, eland are given a prominent role.
Horses, cattle, dogs, sheep, baboons, wild pigs, elephants, snakes, birds, and other animals are also depicted, though much less often. Both the quantity and quality of the eland paintings are remarkable, suggesting they were very important in San culture.
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While most other animals are regularly depicted in a single color — usually red or black — most of the eland are painted in combinations of several colors, often using sophisticated shading techniques. Because the white pigment deteriorates quickly, many of the eland appear without heads or legs.
Most of the people shown in the paintings were painted in a single color, usually red. While the majority of the figures appear to be naked, only a small number show obvious indications of their gender.