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Bushmans Kloof Rock Art

Bushman tribes have lived in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa for 120,000 years. They are mankind’s oldest nation. The Bushman stained the rocks with oxide pigments, depicting a cultural and spiritual legacy that Bushmans Kloof preserve and protect today.

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Fast Fact

Some of the bush art at Bushmans Kloof dates back as far as 10,000 years

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The Objective

The rock art is a living portrayal of stone-age culture, and of our own origins in Africa. The Bushman used natural pigments such as ochre, animal blood and plant juices to make their paintings. While some colours have been lost over time, numerous clearly discernible pictographs have survived to serve as cultural markers, revealing shamanistic visions, tribal dances, and other spiritual rites.

One of the more important sites is Bleeding Nose Shelter, where the paintings stand out in chiaroscuro against white Sandstone. This was probably a ceremonial site, and subjects include eland, small antelope, and rare paintings of birds.

A variety of human figures are depicted standing, dancing and shooting with bows. This site takes its name from a painting of a man in the shamanistic ‘trance’ state, with blood pouring from his nose, joined to his companions by mystical lines of power.

The massive slab that gives Fallen Rock Shelter its name is dramatic in its own right, but it also houses one of the largest and most well preserved collections of images known in the entire Pakhuis region. It is thought to have been a dwelling site, due to deposits of ash, sand and grass left behind by Bushman occupants. It shelters the largest painting of a Bushman cave-dwelling group known in the Western Cape.

Sonya’s Cave holds series of ledges filled with tall, elongated, male figures painted red. Nearby, figures in black depict giraffes and antelope.

The Impact

Bushmans Kloof is the custodian of the more than 130 unique rock art sites. The sites on the reserve may be viewed by guests, archaeologists and researchers. Since its founding, Bushmans Kloof has been dedicated to protecting this extraordinary treasure. Accordingly, it has been awarded the status of a South African Natural Heritage Site.

In 2004, the Bushmans Kloof Heritage Centre was opened, featuring an extraordinary collection of priceless artefacts, jewellery, dancing sticks, hunting kits, musical instruments, digging sticks and magical paraphernalia. The centre is a wonderful source of insight into the lives and culture of the ancient Bushman people.

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