Rock Painting S00501, Bethlehem, Dihlabeng District Municipality, Free State


This San rock painting depicts red-colored rain-animals. Among all San groups, the most important ritual is the Great Dance in which, through trances, the San say that they harness a kind of spiritual power. They use this power for healing, hunting, removing societal tensions, making rain, and other tasks. Aspects of the Great Dance are pervasive in San rock art, in part because this dance was of such great significance to the San, but more importantly because the act of making rock art seems to have been part of the process by which San ritual specialists harnessed and shared the power of the dance. The image of the painting is part of the Woodhouse Rock Art Collection of the Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria. The collection includes more than 23,000 slides, maps, and tracings from a large number of rock art sites in South Africa. The San are hunter-gatherer people who lived throughout southern and eastern Africa for thousands of years before being displaced by African tribes and European settlers. The San people continue to live in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia.

Last updated: January 8, 2018