Imagining a ‘pleasant place’: a rock engraving site in the Trans-Gariep Nama Karoo, South Africa

The Keimoes Engraving Site 01 (KES01) north of Keimoes, Northern Cape Province, is a recently documented site with just over 50 recorded instances of rock markings. These comprise engravings of human footprints, animal motifs and smoothed and pecked areas on an outcrop. The KES01 engravings provide an opportunity to investigate the ‘problem of the animals’: the predominance of animal images and their frequent presentation as solitary figures portrayed in a standing posture. This phenomenon has been noted previously but not investigated. Here the concept of ‘wind’, a prominent theme in nineteenth-century |xam ethnography and twenty-first and twentieth-century anthropological and ethnographic studies, is the basis for imagining what the engraved images ‘do’. It is argued that the engravings themselves have a ‘wind’ that is specific to the potency of the animal depicted. Their presence on an outcrop in the vicinity of a pan, a prominent steep-sided koppie (butte) and several funnel-like structures (kites) is seen as part of an invisible network of interacting winds that contribute to what one of the nineteenth-century |xam described as a ‘pleasant place’.

Publish DateMay 27, 2021
Last UpdatedMay 27, 2021
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