Shamanism and Rock Art in Far Western North America


Material Information

Shamanism and Rock Art in Far Western North America
Series Title:
Cambridge Archaeological Journal
Whitley, David S.
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Shamanism ( local )
Rock Art ( local )
Western North America ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )


Ethnographic data on the production of rock art in far western North America - the historic hunter-gatherer cultures of California and the Great Basin - are reviewed and analyzed to identify widespread patterns in the origin and, in certain cases, symbolism of the late prehistoric/historical parietal art of this region. These data, collected in the first few decades of this century by a variety of ethnographers, suggest two origins for the art: production by shamans; and production by initiates in ritual cults. In both instances, the artists were apparently depicting the culturally-conditioned visions or hallucinations they experienced during altered states of consciousness. The symbolism of two sites, Tulare-19 and Ventura-195, is considered in more detail to demonstrate how beliefs about the supernatural world, and the shaman's relationship to this realm, were graphically portrayed.
Original Version:
Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Vol. 2, no. 1 (1992-04-01).

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