Before Farming

Truth in error

an enigmatic 19th century San comment on southern African rock paintings of ‘lions’ & ‘shields’

Before Farming (2010), 2010, (1), 1–13.

Abstract

Asked to comment on copies of southern African rock paintings, nineteenth-century San informants sometimes gave puzzling explanations. This article considers a San comment that was based on an erroneous interpretation of images in a nineteenth-century copy made by George Stow, but which nonetheless contains insights into San beliefs about lions and associated religious beliefs. The relationship between those beliefs and depictions of lions is discussed. The act of painting a lion was embedded in a web of social and cognitive relations and had social consequences for both those who made them and those who viewed them.

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Author details

Lewis-Williams, J

Challis, S