The Western Cape Feature

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San Rock Art

The Cederberg has astonishing examples of San rock art and there is a concerted effort to find ways of managing these sites. On your explorations you'll come across paintings of elephant, eland, bees, people, and otherworldly beings that seem to be half-human and half-beast. Some examples are in pristine conditions, while others are battered and scarred from a time when hikers saw nothing wrong with scribbling their names across the art, or lighting fires in the caves and overhangs where the paintings occurred. Luckily, this carelessness has shifted. So, too, has our understanding of the art. For centuries, people believed the rock art was simply a record of what happened during the daily lives of the San, but, post-1970, this began to shift. There's now a belief that the art is much richer and carries enormous spiritual meaning that tells us of the inner lives of the San. The art is riddled with metaphors, and it's unpacking the rich symbolism that poses a real challenge. Drawings of an eland, for instance, are not simply depictions of animals the San have seen or hope to hunt. Rather the eland serves as an intermediary between the physical and spiritual worlds.

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