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
The settlement of Riemvasmaak is located in a spectacular corner of the arid Northern Cape Province, close to the Namibian border and Augrabies Falls. This harsh region was inhabited by San hunter-gatherers for millennia, and from about 2000 years ago until historical times also by Khoekhoen (Khoikhoi) herders of fat-tailed sheep and cattle.
Erindi Private Game Reserve, Namibia
Erindi Private Game Reserve lies along the eastern border of the Erongo Region on the Central Plateau of Namibia. Many species of game, including large predators, roam the over 70 000 hectares of savanna dotted with mountains of volcanic origin. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area encompassing the reserve was occupied by many prehistoric cultures over a long period of time. The oldest of these cultures was the San who were responsible for the magnificent rock art in the reserve.