My interest in the Bushman was first ignited as a young boy when on holidays at our family trading store at Thaba Lesoba near Sterkspruit in the North Eastern Cape. My father took me on his trips into the mountains on the western border of Lesotho searching for caves, for paintings and collecting the odd item of interest. He taught me how to photograph the paintings without touching or wetting them to draw out the colour, and to never attempt chipping the rock face in the hope of a souvenir.
The area around the trading store was rich in this heritage – many of the caves and rock-overhangs dripped with murals of their paintings we found stone implements and discarded flints and even discovered many fossilised animal skeletons dating back thousands of years.
A hunting scene
A selection of stone implements
More recently while exploring the KZN Drakensberg Mountains, hiking with my great friends, John Hone and Dave Osborne (sadly no longer with us) and fly fishing high altitude streams, we visited most of the known sites and discovered a few yet unknown, now recorded. We scrambled through pristine wilderness, below ancient sandstone rock-bands, photographing those we found, marvelling at the beauty of the paintings and speculating at the stories and meaning behind them. We even have a site previously unknown, discovered on a fishing trip some years ago, now officially recorded as the “Dog Nobbler Shelter” after the name of our small band of flyfishers – a mural consisting of bees and beehive, trance figures and a few antelope.
John Hone and our guide admiring a mural of paintings in a Drakensberg cave
The Dog Nobbler Shelter above and the painting of bees below. Zoom in and you will see the two white wings and small body in red ochre.
The Drakensberg is steeped in rich cultural heritage and was home to the Bushman from late Stone Age times until as recently as the nineteenth century – a testament to their way of life depicted through their paintings. Over 35 000 individual recorded images at over 600 sites can be seen in the Drakensberg region – making up 35% of all of South Africa’s rock art sites. It was partly the significance of these rock art sites that led to the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park being declared a World Heritage Site in 2000.
This depicts a battle scene between Bushmen and what appears to be Zulu warriors.
Bushman spearing fishing in the NE Cape before trout and C&R was the norm.
I have been privileged to have been able experience this priceless heritage
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2017. All rights reserved