Let’s not neglect the rock painting heritage of Baja California Sur

Let’s not neglect the rock painting heritage of Baja California Sur

Tamara Montalvo Arce

Understanding the integrative value of culture and its extraordinary manifestations in Baja California Sur is of great importance. Teachers, parents, communicators, workers and entrepreneurs should make an intense effort so that society and especially young people today do not neglect the portentous aesthetic, natural and cultural heritage that includes the cave and wall paintings, rock and stone art in general.

We have new didactic and pedagogical approaches to help young people identify, value, interpret, classify, disseminate and protect the rock and cave art of B.C.S. and the world, with the most advanced tools and technologies offered by science. Especially these young people, as well as adults, can learn to organize and really enjoy virtual expeditions using the internet and the various pictographic and petroglyphic sites of our state and other latitudes to better appreciate what we have as a nation.

We are really fortunate to have different types and levels of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, fixed or mobile, past and present. With the cave paintings, this wonderful cultural heritage with the unique characteristics of the Southern Baja Californians must be viewed with an open mind and without prejudice. We can receive the semiotic appreciations, that is, their signs, signals and processes of sense-meaning from the image that often overflows the pictorial or visual image. This can happen with the analysis of colors, shapes, icons and composition that exist in the different sets of cave paintings or petroglyphs that are found in the municipalities of Los Cabos, La Paz and in the rest of the state. This allows us to freely understand, interpret and appreciate everything that the dotted lines, spirals, parallel lines or other geometric shapes represent, which have fascinated great scientists of humanity from the nineteenth century to date.

It is of interest for students to see clearly the participation of women in the cave paintings, as well as in anthropomorphic figures, in the representation of hands in negative and positive, and in predominant ocher and black colors.

Specifically, young women are interested in the fact that in the large-format cave paintings women appear with arrows, interpreting that they participated in combats or that they were sacrificed and shot by arrows as part of a ritual offered to some deities. Although, in the same panels of these caves male figures also appear shot by arrows next to those of women.

One of the questions that most fascinates students and teachers is the exegetical challenge to understand why plants, trees, flowers or fruits never appear, but rather land animals, birds, marine life, and human beings are always seen. There are no images of plants, which might mean that they regarded plants as inferior or inanimate beings or, on the contrary, they were so sacred or dangerously magical that they dared not reproduce them.

Similar phenomena occur in the caves of Altamira, Chauvet or Lascaux where zoomorphic figures predominate in a very reiterated way. To try to understand these tendencies in the culture, however empirical it may seem to us, it is enough to observe diverse world maps where they explain historically and prehistorically the flow of the first settlers of the planet and show their large displacements or migrations from Africa to Europe and from Asia to America. This helps to understand that even with thousands of years in time difference, recurring pictographic or iconographic patterns are seen.

In the Center for Integral Studies of Innovation and the Territory (CEIIT), lively controversies have arisen among scholars about the fact that in the vast majority of the known BCS rock paintings, human figures appear with arms lifted upwards in a position that could signify imploring or grateful actions, some kind of worship, or as a start signal of figurative elevation.

In conclusion, we urge the community to try to help to appreciate and always respect all of the cultural heritage of BCS and the world, but particularly the hundreds of sites of rock art, petroglyphs, paleontological and archaeological activity. For this we must always travel with guides from the Federal Secretariat of Culture and the government of the state, or with teachers, and learn to create a cultural log of our experiences with annotations, photos, recordings and sounds of nature, to learn how to appreciate our ecological and cultural heritage together.


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