When art started out as a game

A distant day of an undetermined year, but still between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago, in Tibet, two children, perhaps as a toy, left their handprints, and even some of their feet, on the surface of a still modern limestone. They finished the work when the composition seemed to them satisfactory. They could not have imagined that in the future they would attract the attention of archaeologists determined to decipher the effects of the first artistic manifestations, the authors of a Study appeared in the journal Science, the first signatories David Zhang (University of Guangzhou, China) and Matthew Bennett (University of Bournemouth, UK), who said: “The action of the two young men was intentional, which is not the effect of a practical activity. ordinary such as running, walking, climbing, but a creative act, although very simple. transfers our knowledge of the origin of art to 180,000 years ago. Exaggeration?

Development of the imagination. The two children on the Tibetan Plateau near Kisang today printed 5 footprints and 5 footprints on a hard rock surface, but at the time they looked like fresh concrete. Based on the footprint measurements, the ages of the two ranged from 7 to 12 years old. Those on the feet appear smaller compared to those on the hands. They weren’t children sane man, but the Neanderthals or the Denisovans (especially our “sisters”, found in Eurasia before the arrival of Sabines From Africa, about 100 thousand years ago). The footprints were carefully admired, avoiding interference. To speak in this case of the originNOT. art It would seem simple, were it not for the fact that drawings of hands accompany or precede all prehistoric frescoes, usually depicting animals, also understood as spirits of nature, beginning 40 thousand years ago.

In short, the representation of hands was a universal creative act in prehistoric times, since this type of representation corresponds to the work ofsane man From the Chauvet caves in France 37,000 years ago to the 40,000 year old frescoes of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It is found in Australia, for example in the Kimberley region, with a history of 17,000 years, as far as Patagonia, in the Cueva de las Manos, which was produced 13,000 years ago. Or in the Gilf Kebir mountain range, in the Egyptian desert, still in prehistoric times.

Five finger signatures. According to the 2018 story by Dirk Hoffmann of the Max Planck Institute, in caves near Santillana de la Mar, in northern Spain, Neanderthals made negative images of hands 64,000 years ago, and therefore the oldest in Europe. In almost all cases in the world, the hands are represented positively, i.e. coloring the inside of the hand with red ocher and then using it as a mold on the rock, or negatively, placing the hand. hand against a wall and blow colored powder on it (ocher or still ash) to leave its contours on the rock. If the representations of hands, starting perhaps with a game, are the first work of art (or one of the first), what symbolic significance have they taken on?

The oldest could be “signing” his presence somewhere: sIt’s me and I crossed this path. The second was most likely a manifestation of an initiation rite. The researchers came to this conclusion because the hands of adolescents are usually depicted. But Penn State University archaeologist Dean Snow noted that often the authors had to be women.

Illustrations of the Cueva de las Manos. Found in the province of Santa Cruz (southern Argentina), it was made around 13,000 years ago using stencil technology, that is, often using the artist’s hand as mold to obtain a negative mold. In fact, the cloned hand was always left because the dye, usually red ocher, was blown with a straw (often a hollow bird bone), holding the straw with the right hand.
© Mariano, via WikiMedia

Shaman at work. It was based on statistical differences in hand measurements in adults of both sexes (for example, in women, the ring finger is usually not as long as the index finger as in men), and the analysis anti-hand prints left on the walls of 8 French and Spanish Caves. Thus, he was able to prove that three quarters of them were in female hands. If these have a function of sign and ritual, and that the animal figures which often accompany them were produced by people in the role of shamans who imagined contact with the spirit world, as anthropologists generally assume , then it’s not a contradiction. Women writers agree in such a scenario. Indeed, in the shamanic practices which are still observed today in the ethnic groups of Tibet and Siberia, among the Australian aborigines or the Indians of South America, there are not a few female shamans.