San rock art - African art history for Kids

San Rock Art for Kids

San Rock Art San rock art

San people have been living in southern Africa since there first were human beings anywhere, maybe about 100,000 years ago. There are more than 14,000 of these paintings in South Africa. Nobody knows when San artists first started making rock art. They are still doing it today. But we do know about when the San people first got pushed into the Kalahari Desert. That was about 400 AD. So the San rock art from other places in south Africa must be from before 400 AD, and the San rock art from the Kalahari must be from after 400 AD.

San Rock Art

A few of the paintings seem to show real things that happened, like small San people fighting the big Bantu who are invading them. More of them seem to show mythological stories about the past. Or they show dreams that San holy men had about the spirit world.

San Rock Art

There were different styles of drawing in different parts of Africa, and different kinds of animals were painted in different places too.

(Compare these paintings to the painted walls of Stone Age houses in West Asia, and to early Egyptian art, and to rock paintings in North America.)

Learn by doing: African Rock Art project
Advanced version of San Art on Quatr.us
More about the San

Check out these books about San rock painting on Amazon or in your local library.

Or read this Khoisan article in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

San People
African Art
African Architecture
Ancient Africa
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by Professor K.E. Carr, Portland State University
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