Bushman Art at the Cederberg

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In caves and overhangs throughout the area, San rock art can be found, evidence of the earliest human inhabitants. European settlement brought forestry and some agriculture, and led to massive destruction of the local cedar trees, with thousands felled for telephone poles, furniture and housing. The European arrival also led to the elimination of the San population. 

In the north, the old Moravian mission station of Wupperthal still remains, the heart of a small subsistence farming community, and home to a local industry producing velskoene, traditional soft leather shoes.


The Cederberg is one of the best areas for ancient San (Bushmen) rock art in the world, with over 2,500 discovered sites, a number of which are easily accessible from Mount Ceder.

The Cederberg Mountains are filled with silent stories of Bushman rock art. Some are clear depictions of everyday events, other are enigmatic. Thousands of years old, this Bushmen rock art speaks of the inhabitants of these rugged mountains, who lived lightly within a world they understood, and danced and painted energetically. Their legacy litters the Cedarberg, along well-known trails that need no guide to find the way. You may be fortunate to discover one of the thousands of paintings not yet seen by modern eyes. There are a number of trails and one rock art site to visit on the Mount Ceder, with no crowds or queues, where the only fence between you and the living art is appreciative respect.

“Delicately drawn figures in red ochre leaped across the back of an overhang, carrying sticks, bags or bows and arrows. A woman with fat buttocks had pointy boobs that stuck out at right angles to her body, defying gravity. Antelope fell from a crack, radiating curious lines. They spoke of a world and a people long gone, leaving behind an air of mystery in their shelters decorated with some of the most important rock art in the world. This site had been defaced by ugly graffiti in the 1940s, a period, ‘when rock art was not appreciated. Right then, time seemed pretty irrelevant. It was easy to see why people - and even molluscs - have fancied this spot for thousands - even millions - of years. The ancientness of the place gave it a cosmic dimension, one that time could not touch. It put city life firmly back into perspective.” 
Extract from an article by Marion Whitehead