This stone, known as the
Coldstream Stone after the place where it was found, is one of the earliest
known pieces of two-dimensional figurative art from South Africa. The artist has
used red and white ochre to depict three human figures which are amazingly well
The central figure is carrying
what looks like hunting equipment, including a sheath of arrows over one
shoulder. The figures are also shown with blood streaming from their noses.
Based on San|Bushmen traditions, it is possible they are shamans involved in a
‘trance’ or ‘healing’ dance.
The Coldstream Stone was found
placed on top of a 9,000-year-old human burial, which tells us that rock art
had a ritual use at that time.
See some of the earliest examples of human creativity in our special exhibition South Africa: the art of a nation (27 October 2016 – 26 February 2017).
Exhibition sponsored by Betsy and Jack Ryan
Logistics partner IAG Cargo
Coldstream Stone, about 9,000
years ago. On loan from Iziko Museums of South Africa, Social History
Collections, Cape Town.