Buttermead I

Together with Martindell, Buttermeade is an ideal, 'quick and easy' public rock art site that allows visitors to gain an appreciation of the rock paintings of the area without too much effort.

The Art

The painted rock shelter at Buttermeade has polychrome images of eland, some of which are superimposed over earlier paintings. Although polychrome, none of the eland appears to be shaded. There are many interesting images here, including a semi-circular arrangement of what appear to be kaross-clad anthropomorphic figures. One particularly interesting image is found towards the upper part of the panel, where a strange bird painted in white is connected to an eland by a white line. On this line is a red zigzag running from the eland's nose to the bird, slightly above its leg, and connecting up other images in the panel. It is a challenging task to see if it can be followed to its end. Where the line joins the eland at the nose, white lines emanate from the animal. Similar depictions of eland with nasal emanations are found throughout the south-eastern mountains. This is now understood to be an indication of an eland's death; when they are shot by a San hunter's poisoned arrow, they froth at the mouth and sometimes bleed from the nose. An eland's death is considered an important occasion by the San because it is at this point that it releases the supernatural energy which shamans believe they can harness in order to enter the spirit world. The close association between the bird and the dying eland is as puzzling a feature here as it is at Martindell.

To visit the site please contact Mr Gawie Naude on 082 8979555. It is essential to book in advance to visit the site.

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