(By request and dedicated to Jason -- jcpix)
The Baja California peninsula holds many hidden treasures. Among them are the "Pinturas Rupestres," pre-Columbian cave paintings in many of the deep canyons that slice through the volcanic plateau. Very little is known of the people who created these images. Some of them may be as much as 7,500 years old. (If you read Spanish, you can consult this link.) The indigenous peoples told the Spanish conquistadores that they were painted by an ancient race of giants.
It is likely that many of these pinturas have not yet been discovered or studied. The Baja California peninsula is largely a volcanic plateau in a desert climate. When rain comes, it is most often from a tropical storm or hurricane. The area may "average" 5 inches of rain per year -- but often that means that every 2d or 3d year, 10-15 inches of rain falls in one day. Over the millenia, these deluges have cut deep arroyos into the plain. Most of the pinturas have been found in these endless canyons.
We had the good fortune to see these paintings while on a Green Tortoise tour. We left from Mulege with a guide who took us by 4-wheel-drive up into the hills, to a beautiful rancho. Burros grazed on an open field of cactus -- cholla, ocotillo, and cardón. We walked out into the field and encountered a nearly hidden descent into an arroyo that became 20 meters deep, as shown in an earlier post I called, "Prehistoric Paintings Ahead." The site of the paintings was surprisingly large and open. I'll post a WS that may give a little better sense of the area. The figure here and the deer-like animal were roughly life-size. The artists had "signed" their work in a manner that evoked an eery immediacy with us -- look at the left of the frame for their handprints.
You may apply your own interpretation to the scene depicted. The white animal seems to have its tongue hanging and is upside-down, indicating it has been killed. Is the man dancing in celebration? And is the vivid red figure with the antlers above the man's head a spirit guide?
There were many other drawings, including obvious fish (the red figure towards the upper right may be one) and whale figures, and many other handprints. I'll try to post a few others in the days to come.
Critiques | Translate
williewhistler (9829) 2013-08-23 11:20
Hello Russ,a fascinating note accompanies these most interesting shots.
It can be difficult sometimes to portray the scale of these cave paintings but you have done an excellent job here.Fine colours and lovely details.
Kind regards Les.
jcpix (6504) 2013-08-23 16:13
This is great Russ, much appreciation for the dedication!
For lack of a better vocabulary, I'll say "cooool!" Thank you also for the acquiesce to my request pertaining to this subject. How's that, more sophisticated wording? lol
I'm no Indiana Jones or the sort, and have never really closely followed or learned of these facts in history, but I'm always wildly fascinated by them. In the depths of my memory, I can recall taking a few trips to Vernal, Utah and thoroughly enjoying seeing dinosaur fossils.
I would love to go and see with my own eyes some of the cave paintings in France, but for now I will take the time to admire what you have presented here! This is such an incredible link to the past, and I'm absolutely amazed these are still in tact...to think of another human being from long, long ago communicating in this fashion is mind blowing....especially considering today's technology! Can you imagine if cavemen had cell phones and electronic tablets....none of this would exist!?? :)
I like your interpretation of the scene, and it's another fine example of having something left to the imagination. Thanks again my friend! Have a great weekend.
Take it easy,
Periko (1377) 2013-08-23 17:23
Tu nota no podría ser mejor y la foto es excelente.
Yo he estado en Mulege cuatro veces y nunca se me ocurrio buscar esos lugares. Me interesaron mas las misiones.
marabu61 (5863) 2013-08-24 2:57
As a person with Aspergers this is more my cup of tea than your last photo on the music festival, although it is a great people shot with a great perspective.
Great and very interesting note on the ancient cave paintings here, they are somewhat naive, almost like a children paintings, compared to the many cave paintings we can find around Europe. Still one wonders about their heritage and their lives at that time. What amazes me is the size of these paintings, if you say they where life size. Normally cave paintings are on a much smaller scale. Still for us who love history this is a fine document.
have a great weekend
Noel_Byrne (13284) 2013-08-24 7:48
Class shot, amazing to think the age of these drawings and the lives of those who made them. You got perfect light on the whole scene, and not a part of the bright white drawing overexposed, nicely done!
I know its the correct era for it, and the figure on the left reminds me a little of captain caveman! Albeit a very happy one with arms.
Thanks for sharing.
eldancer1 (20750) 2013-08-24 11:48
Awesome capture of those ancient artworks! I hope the government will do everything to preserve them. We have a lot of petroglyphs in Southern Nevada most are well preserved but sometimes some jerks will manage to deface them. You captured those very nicely. TFS.
saxo042 (33900) 2013-08-25 7:05
A very interesting picture and also a very interesting note. These paintings are either very good works of art or maybe they are just graffiti by some young members of the tribe, who knows? However, your capture is very good.
limielski (2571) 2013-08-28 12:43
It's like a graffiti in the cave painted by a hunter. Good shot and informative note - very interesting. TFS
All the best,
photoray (6644) 2013-08-28 13:57
I am a big fan of ancient pictographs and petroglyphs, and your view of Pinturas Rupestres is certainly appealing. Baja also is certainly a magical place once venturing beyond the border towns.
I think we should invite Trekies to meet and ride the Green Tortoise Bus this winter? One of main goals has always been to see the migrating whales in Scammons Lagoon.
nikkitta (8937) 2013-08-28 16:47
Hola mi amigo Russ
What a surprise to watch rupestres pictures at California and very good ones , not an expert, but like them, here in Argentina there are also some ( never see them)
I find moving the the painted hands, in my opinion the very first way to design
Hasta otro dia
mcmtanyel (5197) 2013-08-28 20:02
Excellent documentary photo, presented with great photographic skill. This is the best rock painting I have seen.
Miguel82 (14416) 2013-08-29 11:02
These petroglyphs are ancient prehistoric painting, this is a nice educational document, your photo comment is interesting and exhaustive, it looks like horses or burros, good observation Russ
Have a nice evening
ourania (18566) 2013-11-02 4:12
it's surprising, fascinating and touching to see this prehistoric graffitti communicating its message in such a direct and appealing way. There are fine details and textures in the frame, I like how you isolated this scene giving it full impact. The workshop picture is very interesting as it presents more of this amazing rock bearing messages across time. The experience that the artist wished to glorify and share has reached so far, it's amazing. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a great weekend,
PS It's true that the light and colours of Baja California look very familiar and pleasant:)