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sl rock art font

Su Lucas

Rock Art in South Africa. This font was made from photographs and drawings of the rock art in South Africa. Feel free to distribute this font, but please always keep this textfile with it. This font may be used free of charge for non-commercial projects. Please contact me if you plan to use it for other purposes. If this font is redistributed, please give me credit, and provide a link to my webpage. Please don't distribute this without this read-me file, or offer it on a CD for commercial purposes without contacting me first. Website: e-mail: [email protected] And you can drop me a postcard to tell me how much you've enjoyed it! Su Lucas, 14 Mulbarton Street, Robindale, Randburg, 2194, South Africa. I have learnt a lot about these Stone Age artists in the process of making this font. I hope you get as much pleasure from using it as I had creating it. The Bushmen (San) were the most prolific painters. Their art is far from primitive or childlike. The images vary from monochrome to bichrome to varied polychrome. Some show such magnificent use of variegation of colour, that it would be impossible to convert these images to the black and white required for a font. The images display their day-to-day life. The animals they see, their daily tasks like hunting and food gathering. Their battles as well as their dances. Although there are paintings of strange mythological creatures (numerals in this font) no "religious" symbols like chevrons, spirals or triangles exist in the rock art of Southern Africa. I chose to sort the images of this font in the following manner: Numerals: Mythological creatures. Lower case: Animals. Upper case: People. The numerals show a variety of mythological creatures. It includes a strange winged creature, a horned snake as well as birdmen and men with the heads of bulls. The double-headed snake (3) is a massive painting, measuring almost 7 foot in length. According to mythology, the thrashing of a snake-god to get to the sea resulted in the Fish River Canyon. The rainbull (9) was supposed to spit out rain over the countryside. This image recurs at several sites. Although the painting of people is simplistic and stylised, the same does not hold true for the painting of animals. The detail in the animal paintings is equalled in very few places in the world. A characteristic that is unique to South African rock art is the technique of foreshortening. The animals are painted in profile, 3/4 view and from behind. This is executed with great skill. I have included several excellent examples of this technique. (A-D) The Eland is an animal that features greatly in the art of the San. So much so, that they are also known as The People of the Eland. This animal was very prevalent in the area at the time, and no doubt formed a major part of the diet of the San. A peculiarity of the art is that the horns of the animals were always painted as if the animal was viewed from the front. (Very much like the way the ancient Egyptians always painted 2 left legs!) The two wildebeest (E and F) are excellent examples of this technique. The fat-tailed sheep depicted in H shows that the San did not only hunt for their meat, but also kept some domestic animals. A very interesting fact emerges when analysing the animal paintings. If one should ask anybody to draw a profile of an animal e.g. a horse, the horse usually faces left if the artist is right handed and vice versa. The artworks of the San show that more than 60% of the animals face towards the right, indicating that the artists were left-handed. This means that either the San was predominantly a left-handed people as a whole, or that the artists were mostly left-handed. This theory fits nicely with the current thinking that the right hemisphere (that controls the left hand) of the human brain is the artistic hemisphere. The depiction of people is definitely not as detailed as the animals. But there is such a variety in these images that we can glean a lot about the daily life of these people. Running is depicted by an almost horizontal position of the legs, as can be seen in h, e, q and u. The human figures are detailed enough that we can see the clothes they wore, for example the cloaks seen in w and e. Women are not depicted as frequently as men. The images show them at their daily routine, caring for the children, cooking, digging for edible roots. The figure in f is carrying a baby on her back, and a weighted digging stick in her hand. The women all show the large buttocks and thighs so typical of the San. This was obviously a physical characteristic that was more likely to ensure survival in times of drought and famine. A lot of the male figures are shown with a semi-erection, as can be seen in q, e, r, and p. This is a physical trait peculiar to the San, called "penis rectus". This characteristic helped with cooling and heat dissipation in the very hot summers experienced in South Africa. A recurrent image is that of one or more crossbars across the penis. The meaning of this is unclear, but it is theorised that the foreskin was adorned with ornaments like pieces of bone and feathers. The figure in o is an excellent example. He also displays very elaborate body paint. The current fashion for body piercing is nothing new, it seems! Several tableaux of hunting scenes are depicted in the rock art. I include one where the hunters are using a trap to catch an unsuspecting duiker (p). They also used disguises of animal heads and skins, as shown in s. The weapons they used for hunting and fighting were varied. I include examples of knobkieries, assegais, as well as bows and arrows. Wars were waged between adjacent tribes over hunting grounds, as well as between the San and the local black tribes. The x is taken from a large mural depicting such a war. This image clearly shows a woman trying to restrain her man from joining the fray. This mural shows the fight in detail, including wounded, bleeding and dismembered warriors. Dancing and making music is depicted with frequency. It is mostly the males that danced, while the women sat by and clapped the rhythm. Dancers are shown in T, j and m. Of course this font only includes a very small sample of the art, I only used images that leant themselves to be fonted. This art form is rapidly disappearing, being weathered away by the elements and by humans. Hopefully this font will go a little way in helping to preserve these images for future generations.

sl rock art Regular
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