Nestled in the heart of the Cederberg Mountain range, one of the richest areas for rock art in Southern Africa, remarkable rock art created by the San people has stood the test of time for approximately 2000 years, if not more. These ancient paintings have captured the imaginations of all who encounter them. Most of the artwork can be found along river and stream beds, where rocky outcrops with protective overhangs offered temporary shelter. While there’s a resemblance among paintings across the Western Cape, each site tells a unique story through its images and depictions. In the Cederberg area alone, an estimated 1000 or more such sites exist.
A Glimpse into History
One of these fascinating sites, the Sevilla Rock Art Trail, lies in close proximity to Simbavati Cederberg Ridge. These paintings are a window into the past, as the San people shared their narrative through these captivating artworks.
One might wonder how experts have managed to date these paintings on rock surfaces. While the San left no written records, some paintings feature wagons, sailing ships, and men on horseback. These elements can be dated roughly to the past 300 years. The most accurate dating method involves examining loose stones found in cave litter, which can be precisely dated. However, this still doesn’t clarify whether the stones were painted on long before that time. It remains an intriguing enigma.
The Rock Art
The San people utilised a wide spectrum of colours, from black and white to red, yellow, blue, and even green. Researchers who engaged with surviving San individuals discovered that pigments were crafted from a mixture of earth ochres, clay, ash, and bird droppings. To bind these pigments, urine, blood (likely from animals they hunted), egg whites, and plant sap acted as fixatives. Black “tar” derived from Dassie (Rock Hyraxes) middens, serving as a lavatory, was also employed.
Application methods varied, with the San using fingers, sticks, feathers, and animal hair to create their masterpieces. The precision and finesse of the lines within the paintings suggest a sophisticated technique for brushwork, resulting in astonishingly straight lines.
Sevilla Rock Art Tour
Guests at Simbavati Cederberg Ridge have the opportunity to witness these remarkable paintings firsthand on the guided Sevilla Rock Art Tour. Our knowledgeable guides will lead you along the trail, answering questions and providing an up-close experience with these historical paintings.
The images shared here are just a glimpse of what awaits on the Sevilla Rock Art Trail, with many more paintings to discover. Yet, it’s not just about the art; the trail also unveils breathtaking scenery and, after rain, a series of enchanting waterfalls on the mountainsides.
Discover more at https://www.simbavati.com/lodges/cederberg-ridge/