Worlds within stone: the inner and outer rock-art landscapes of northern Australia and southern Africa

Paul S.C. Tacon, Sven Ouzman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

Abstract

The hunter-gatherer rock-arts of northern Australia and southern Africa have much in common: an abundance of engraved and painted rock-art which occurs at topographically comparable locales. Though northern Australian and southern African hunter-gatherers had no contact, their world-understandings have tended to find expression in similar ways – ways which often involve rock-art imagery. In the case of northern Australia and southern Africa, rock-art points the way, often literally, to multiple landscapes that co-exist but which do not seem to have been equally accessible to all hunter-gatherers.
In both regions the notion is pervasive that inner worlds of extra-ordinary experience simultaneously and immanently exist alongside and intertwined with the outer world of ‘ordinary’ existence. Rock-art sites represent places where these worlds connected. As important as the rock-art imagery in this respect is the rock itself; by no means a neutral support for imagery, it was and it is an active, a living and sometimes a dangerous entity. Ethnography, rock-art imagery and a consideration of rock and place, taken together, allow exploration of the nature of landscape perception and use among the hunter-gatherers of northern Australia and southern Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe figured landscapes of rock-art
Subtitle of host publicationLooking at pictures in place
EditorsChristopher Chippindale, George Nash
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Ppress
Pages39-68
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)0521524245
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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