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The Social Context of a Hunter-Gatherer Ritual


  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108498210

£ 78.99

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About the Authors
  • Rock art images around the world are often difficult for us to decipher as modern viewers. Based on authentic records of the beliefs, rituals and daily life of the nineteenth-century San peoples, and of those who still inhabit the Kalahari Desert, this book adopts a new approach to hunter-gatherer rock art by placing the process of image-making within the social framework of production. Lewis-Williams shows how the San used this imagery not simply to record hunts and the animals that they saw, but rather to sustain the social network and status of those who made them. By drawing on such rich and complex records, the book reveals specific, repeated features of hunter-gatherer imagery and allows us insight into social relations as if through the eyes of the San themselves.

    • Presents a new theoretical approach to rock art, situating it in the pattern of social relations
    • Anchored in authentic, verbatim, nineteenth-century hunter-gatherer ethnography
    • Illustrates hunter-gatherer rock art as not just another form of multi-functional Western art, but rather that it was embedded in social relations and it achieved definable social ends
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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108498210
    • length: 226 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. A go-between
    2. An invisible narrative
    3. The narrative problem
    4. Patterns of participation
    5. Integrated idiosyncrasy
    6. Threads of light
    7. A State of !aia
    8. Images, image-makers and society
    9. San imagery today

  • Author

    David Lewis-Williams, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
    David Lewis-Williams is Professor Emeritus in the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he founded the Rock Art Research Institute in 1980. His books include The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins Art (2002), translated into numerous languages.

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