The depiction of buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in San rock art is extremely rare throughout southern Africa and as a result its role in San cosmology has not previously been considered in publication. However, the mere appearance of buffalo in San rock art suggests that there must be a motive for its portrayal since animals assume symbolic associations in human thought. San artists depicted animals because they have meaning. An example of this is the eland, which is a multifaceted symbol in San culture as it is associated with girls’ puberty rituals, boys’ first kill ceremonies, marriage rituals, rain-making and the practices of the religious specialist.
Rock Art Department, National Museum, Bloemfontein, P.O. Box 266, Bloemfontein, 9300, South Africa