African Archaeological Review

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 199–228 | Cite as

Southern African San Rock Painting as Social Intervention: A Study of Rain-Control Images

  • J. David Lewis-WilliamsEmail author
  • David G. Pearce

Many aspects of southern African San rock art images can be understood in the light of nineteenth- and twentieth-century ethnography. San beliefs about different kinds of “rain-animals” and the secrecy that attended rain-control rites informed different kinds of social relations between rain-controllers themselves and between them and other people. San communities were less egalitarian than is often supposed, though ongrounds that are commonly overlooked. These points are made in reference to a hitherto unknown painted site.

De nombreux aspects de l’art rupestre sud-africain peuvent être compris à la lumière de documents ethnographiques des dix-neuvième et vingtième siècles. La croyance des San en différentes sortes ‘d’animaux de pluie’ et le secret environnant les rites de contrôle de lapluie ont révélé plusieurs types de relations sociales entre les faiseurs de pluie eux-mêmes, ainsi qu’entreceux-ci et les autres personnes. Les communautés san étaient moins égalitaires qu’on le suppose souvent, bien que cela n’apparaisse que sur des bases généralement négligées. Ces points sont développés en référence à un site orné jusqu’à présent inconnu.

Southern Africa Later Stone Age San rock painting rain-control agency 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rock Art Research InstituteUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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