Embodiment, transformation and ideology in the rock art of trans-pecos Texas

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Abstract

© 2016 McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. Present in the Trans-Pecos rock art of west Texas are many motifs intelligible within hunter-gatherer ontological frameworks. These motifs-including human figures missing heads and limbs, figures with disproportionately large eyes, polymelia and pilo-erection-Are concerned with somatic transformations and distortions experienced in altered states of consciousness. Ethnographic analogies also demonstrate that other Trans-Pecos features-smearing, rubbing and chipping of pigment and incorporation of natural inequalities of the rock surfaces into images-Are evidence of kinetic experiences or embodied processes, including the important interaction with the 'veil' that separates one tier of the cosmos from others. By exploring the related concepts of embodiment, somatic transformation and process within non-Western ontologies, I offer a unified but multi-component explanation for the meanings and motivations behind several Trans-Pecos rock-Art motifs. I also address the consumption of rock art in west Texas-how it was viewed and used by the original artists and subsequent viewers to shape, maintain and challenge ideologies and identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-241
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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