Ethnography: An Emerging Trend in Rock Art Research

  • Seema Mamta Minz


Conventionally, in rock art studies, the emphasis is focused on style, motifs and techniques. But in recent years, there is a growing body of work that recognizes the importance of interpreting rock art not only within the context of the rockscape, but within a holistic context that includes a more accurate view of prehistoric culture, information from contemporary indigenous people, their ethnography, culture and material and non-material culture, etc. In view of this, the chapter emphasizes on ethnographic source in rock art research, for there are many ethnographic sources that can be used meaningfully to examine the rock art, especially to interpret the subjective matters in them.


Methodological shift Rock art Ethnography method Living rock art Archaeology Prehistoric period Indigenous people and societies 


  1. Bleek, D.F. 1936. Beliefs and Customs of the/Xam Bushmen. Part VIII: More About Sorcerers and Charms. Bantu Studies 10: 163–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brooks, Robert Romano Ravi, and V.S. Wakankar. 1976. Stone Age Painting in India. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Chippindale, Christopher, and Paul S.C. Taçon, eds. 1998. The Archaeology of Rock Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Clegg, John. 1993. Pictures, Jargon and Theory-Our Own Ethnography and Roadside Rock Art. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 17: 91–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cummings, Vicki, Jordan Peter, and Marek Zvelebil, eds. 2014. The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunte-Gatherers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dowson, A. Thomas, and Anne L. Holliday. 1989. Zigzag and Eland: An Interpretation of an Idiosyncratic Combination. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 44 (149): 46–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gupta, Charu Smita. 2008. Indian Folk and tribal Paintings. New Delhi: Lustre Press.Google Scholar
  8. Kleinert, Sylvia, and Margo Neale, eds. 2000. Aboriginal Art and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Kumar, Giriraj. 2015. Some Unique Stone Age Compositions in the Rock Art of Chambal Valley in India. Purakala 25: 31–43.Google Scholar
  10. Lewis-Williams, James David. 1981. Believing and Seeing: Symbolic Meaning in Southern San Rock Paintings. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 1983. The Rock Art of Southern Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 1991. Wrestling with Analogy: A Methodological Dilemma in Upper Palaeolithic Art Research. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 57 (1): 149–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 2006. Debating Rock Art: Myth and Ritual, Theories and Facts. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 61 (183): 105–114.Google Scholar
  14. Lewis-Williams, James David and Sam Chalis. 2011. Deciphering Ancient Minds: The Mystery of San Bushman Rock Art. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.Google Scholar
  15. Lewis-Williams, James David, and D.G. Pearce. 2004. San Spirituality: Roots, Expression and Social Consequences. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  16. McKay, Helen F., ed. 2001. Gadi Mirrabooka: Australian Aboriginal Tales from the Dreamtime. Colorado: Greenwood Publishing Group Inc.Google Scholar
  17. Minz, Diwakar. 1996. Munda aur Oraon Ka Dharmik Itihas. New Delhi: Oriental Publications.Google Scholar
  18. Patel, P., Sangita Mohanty, and Pollyshree Samantaray. 2014. Gond Art: A Traditional Art Form.…
  19. Reinach, S. 1903. Lart et la magie: a propos des peintures et des gravures de lge du renne. LAnthropologie XIV: 257–266.Google Scholar
  20. Ross, Mairi. 2001. Emerging Trends in Rock-Art Research: Hunter-Gatherer Culture, Land and Landscape. Antiquity 75(289): 543–548. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Shah, Haku, and Geeti Sen. 1984. On Art and Ritual: Haku Shah Interviewed by Geeti Sen. India International Centre Quarterly 11: 15–35.Google Scholar
  22. Sharma, Tej Ram. 2001. Research Methodology in History. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  23. Solomon, Anne. 1992. Gender, Representation, and Power in the San Ethnography and Rock Art. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 11 (4): 291–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. ———. 1997. The Myth of Ritual Origins? Ethnography, Mythology and Interpretation of San Rock Art. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 52 (165): 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. ———. 2006. San Spirituality and Human Evolution: Eight Questions for Lewis-Williams and Pearce. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 61 (184): 209–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tribhuwan, Robin D., and Maike Finkenauer. 2003. Threads Together: A Comparative Study of Tribal and Pre-historic Paintings. New Delhi: Discovery Publishing House.Google Scholar
  27. Whitley, David S. 1990. Hand book of Rock Art Research. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  28. Wolfe, Patrick. 1991. On Being Woken Up: The Dreamtime in Anthropology and in Australian Settler Culture. Comparative Study in Society and History 33(2): 197–224. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seema Mamta Minz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Tribal StudiesCentral University of JharkhandRanchiIndia

Personalised recommendations