We have all asked ourselves the big questions; where do we come from and what is the nature of our humanity? Archaeological, anthropological, and ethnological studies have attempted to gain an understanding of the painters of rock art and their lives by engaging with artefacts, material culture, interviews of San descendants, and the rock paintings themselves.

By Lachlan Matthews

This research has provided some intriguing answers (as well as leaving us with many unanswered questions), and has taught us much about our ancestors and their connection to the land and nature they relied upon. These expressions have been brought to life in the cave paintings we see today and their artistic beauty remains captivating and mysterious.

Most of the shelters in southern Africa were occupied for various periods and were, at times, the homes of the artists. These paintings were created to be seen and engaged with, in daylight, and in the flickering flames of the evening cooking fire. Imagine what they have looked upon over the passing hundreds and thousands of years, and the stories and incidents they have born witness to.

The San didn’t leave us impressive monuments but, like all great cultures, they have left us their evocative art; tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of beautiful enigmatic paintings, spread over the entire southern African region.

The oldest dated painting in Southern Africa is 27 000 years old. Rock art has been studied in detail and yet many mysteries remain. Who were the artists in the Stone Age clans? How much artistic license was allowed? Was the painting accompanied by ritual and celebration? How many paintings are associated with trance, magic, healing, or memorable events? Why are elephants frequently painted yellow?

Now the rock shelters are silent of voices, and the paintings remain largely unseen, except for the infrequent hiker, or curious archaeologist. This thought makes me melancholy, and I imagine that our ancestral artists would, perhaps, prefer their paintings to still be part of the human experience.

While hiking in the Cederberg, and working on archaeological exhibitions Rockary was born.

I invite you to share this captivating legacy. Let’s bring it back into our homes, and celebrate the mystery and artistic beauty of these enigmatic paintings and the creative human spirit.

Rockary plates, bowls and platters are all microwave friendly and dishwasher compatible. The stoneware can be used for baking in but to prevent cracking do not place cold dishes in a hot oven.

Select your design and order here https://rockary.co.za/products/

Life In Balance has paid homage to the incredible whale art project Lachlan Matthews brought to being and you can explore his incredible sculptures and bone art here