The Makhetha Cave Paintings

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    The Makhetha Cave PaintingsAuthor(s): J. R. HardingSource: The South African Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 22 (Jun., 1951), p. 52Published by: South African Archaeological SocietyStable URL: .Accessed: 25/06/2014 06:38

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  • 52



    Mr. James Walton in his article, 'Kaross-clad Figures from South African Cave Paintings' (S. Afr. Arch. Bull., No. 21, March 1951), has raised points in connection with my own paper, 'Paintings of Robed Figures in Basutoland' (S. Af Arch. Bull., No. 20, Dec. 1950), which seem to require clarification.

    I do not agree that in this paper 1 based my argu- ments 'on the sole possibility that the paintings depict necklaces and leg ornaments'. Necklaces, of course, besides being 'known amongst Bushmen and even Wilton man' are also known amongst the Hottentots and, even, amongst civilized women of the present day in all parts of the world!

    I think Mr. Walton has misunderstood my use of the term 'Bechuana'. I understand Bechuana or Tswana to be a collective term which covers divers Bantu-speaking tribes living north of the Orange River. I understand, also, that at the beginning of the last century Basutoland was occupied by such tribes of the Bechuana as the Basuto (Sotho), Baputi, Batau, etc. Authors such as Seligman, Keane, Tooke, Schapera, and others, can be referred to in this respect. Even the Encyclopaedia Britannica contains some useful references. Furthermore, my article was based on an eye-witness' account of Bechuana dress seen both in and outside Basutoland. The following is another extract from Backhouse which might interest Mr. Walton:-

    'The people of Moshesh are a tribe of Bechuanas, called Basutu; there are also among them refugees of other Bechuana tribes, as well as a few Caffers and Bushmen.' The author quoted wrote this in his diary 10 July 1839, at Thaba Bosiu.

    Most people will agree with Mr. Walton that rock paintings 'can only be interpreted by someone with a wide knowledge of Bushman and Bantu material- cultures and mythology'. (For myself I would rather have said 'persons' than 'someone'.) I am fairly cer- tain, in fact, that most, if not all, South African authorities are already convinced that research on these paintings requires co-operation between ethno- logists and archaeologists.

    Mr. Walton appears to be worried by my use of the term 'native'. This word, I think, is generally under- stood to apply to the occupants of a country or dis- trict as against people in the same country who are merely migratory or visiting.

    If my remark 'there are few, if any, reasons for con- necting the Makhetha paintings with an ancient Sumerian civilization' is, in Mr. Walton's words, 'valueless unless reasons are given in support', then

    I also can split hairs and ask Mr. Walton if he can give any better reason for the contrary suggestion, apart from the fact that it was made by an eminent prehistorian. Flimsy though both interpretations may or may not be judged, I see no valid reason why, in the the absence of excavated evidence, all 'similarities', whether found at home or abroad, should not be brought forward in the interests of present and future study.

    Finally, I feel that Mr. Walton has read more into my little paper than its contents justify. Its intent was not to 'refute' or 'dismiss lightly' any interpretation put forward by an authority as distinguished as the Abbe Breuil, put rather to invite attention to an alter- native interpretation which, in my own humble opinion, seemed to hold a measure of reasonable possibility.

    J. R. HARDING. 34, Lawley Street,

    Waterkloof, PRETORIA.

    21st April, 1951.


    Does the discovery of three globular stones in close proximity to each other a number of times suggest that they are bolas stones, because some of the South American bolases consist of three stones attached to three linked thongs or ropes? What reaction would there be to the frequent discovery of two stones in close proximity to each other? Would such discoveries indicate that they were bolas stones too?

    Charles Darwin (101, 1870) describes the bolases of South America thus: 'The bolas, or balls, are of two kinds. The simplest, which is used chiefly for catching ostriches (rheas), consists of two round stones, covered with leather, and united by a thin, plaited thong, about 8 ft. long. The other kind differs only in having three balls united by thongs to a common centre.'

    It would seem that the two-stone bolas was the earlier, and one would be entitled to refer to any two globular stones not exceeding say 4 in. in diameter found together as evidence of the existence of the bolas in Africa.

    I have found an indication of a one-ball bolas being used in, for example, Madeira, which, when dis- covered in 1420, was uninhabited. Consequently I was surprised to read that, when the Portuguese explorer Cadamosto visited this island in 1455, he found a type of bolas in use. 'There had been immense

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    Article Contentsp. 52

    Issue Table of ContentsThe South African Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 22 (Jun., 1951), pp. 37-64Front MatterEditorial Notes and News [pp. 37-38]Painted Rock-Shelters near Bethlehem, O.F.S.: II. Trekpad [pp. 39-45]Further Details of Rock-Paintings and Other Discoveries [pp. 46-50]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [p. 50]Review: untitled [p. 50]

    Obituary: Dr. Robert Broom: A Tribute from East Africa [p. 51]Points from CorrespondenceThe Makhetha Cave Paintings [p. 52]Bolas Stones or Trimming Stones? [pp. 52-53]

    Two Sculptured Heads in the McGregor Museum, Kimberley [pp. 54-55]ReviewsReview: untitled [p. 56]

    South African Archaeological Society [pp. 57-60]ReviewReview: untitled [p. 60]

    Secretary's Annual Report, 1950 [pp. 61-64]Back Matter


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