Sunday, 12 March 2017

Cave paintings from Malawi.

Any idea what this is:

I know, it's not instantly obvious. But how much that is created these days is going to survive for 10,000 years?

For this is a cave painting from Malawi. Men and women lived in these caves, hunting and gathering, and painting on the walls. There are spears and hoes - so we know a bit about their tools. There are animals - deer and zebra. There is a wonderful giraffe, which I can't show you as I couldn't get far enough away to get the whole thing in one picture. But the painter must have had some sort of ladder (or there were several people sitting on each other's shoulders!) to reach about 5metres above the ground to paint the head. The guide suggested that it was simply decoration, to make the cave more homely.

What stunned me most was the sheer existence of these paintings. There are eight sites, close together - suggesting that several families lives alongside each other in these caves. They're reached along a dirt road that is often impassable during the rainy season, so I was lucky to get there. They are found in a granite outcrop on the lower slopes of some significant hills - my guide (the faithful Everlasting) believes there must be many more yet to be discovered. There may be a metropolis of paintings in the mountains.

But it's more than that. These paintings gave people pleasure. The same pleasure that I get from the pictures on my walls and photographs of my family. Just like the people who lived here, 10,000 years ago. We're not so very different.


  1. Another amazing tale from your travels. Great!

  2. Isn't that marvellous, Jo? I can feel your awe. I would love to see them too! I saw some San people cave paintings in Namibia some years ago and I think I felt the same as you. Incredible wow factor!

  3. Had no idea there were cave paintings in Malawi. In fact I don't know much about it at all so will look forward to reading more!

  4. Which, in a funny way, demonstrates that aesthetics is innate in human beings. It just took a while to develop! :-)

    Greetings from London.

  5. Nice post. What a privilege to be in the cave and see the ancient paintings.