The movement of the Bushman into the Waterberg
There is very little evidence to suggest that the Bushmen (also known as the San) were living in the Waterberg more than 2500 years ago. Rather it is believed that the San moved into the area after the bantu speaking tribes moved here from West Africa. The prospect of trade, with the Bantu, was very attractive to the San because they had cattle and sheep, and later grain which they had brought with them into Southern Africa.
Who were the painters?
Bushman paintings do not show snapshots of desirable food or daily activities but rather it shows what a person has seen while he was in a trance and visiting their spiritual world. The Bushmen are very fond of their dancing (even today) and would practice their dancing as often as possible. Dancing was also used to drive out illness, control the movement of game and/or to make rain. During these dances some men will go into a trance and experience the spiritual world. They then used the paintings as a medium to show the rest of the group, and us, what they had seen and experienced.
What did they paint with?
Primarily the Bushman used ochre to paint with but also used iron oxides, white clay, crushed ostrich shells and in the last hundred years coal. They mixed various binders, such as egg white, plant sap and blood, into the paint to ensure that the paint would stick to the rock surface.
Guided activity at Welgevonden
Welgevonden offers guided tours to the bushman paintings at Welgevonden. During this activity you will be informed about the men who went into the trances and painted the paintings, why the paintings are painted in the different ways, how they danced for rain and much more.
Click here to download a report from Wits University on the two painting sites at Welgevonden.
The activity is carried out at the Taaibos Valley Bushmen Painting Site and takes about 1½ hours. The participants are required to walk to and from the site, a distance of around 450m either way. Groups of 4 people are taken by a qualified armed guide on an interpretive walk to the site for an interpretation of the paintings lasting about 50minutes, followed by a walk back to the vehicle. Additional persons can attend the activity but then the hosting lodge needs to supply an additional qualified armed guide.
Cost: R627 (incl. VAT) for a group of up to 4 people.