The Cave Paintings of Baja California

The Sierra de San Francisco

Page 3 of 10
baja rock art paintings california
La Cuevona
3,500 feet above sea level lies La Cuevona. The cave is vast and beautiful. Under the brow of the cliff, the elements have eroded an ovoid space about 200 feet long, 60 feet high & 80 feet deep. The huge windswept void houses Great Mural art (right). This immense eye-socket cave in a steep wall of Cañada del Cerro is one of the least accessible of the Painters' sites. Although the few paintings of giant men & deer on its walls are not outstanding examples, this cathedral-like space, and the experience of reaching it, create beautiful memories of the land.
The wonder was that people had labored up to such a place to paint at all, not that they had failed to return in repeated cycles. Unfortunately, the painted figures of La Cuevona are in a very diminished state. The same erosive forces that created the cave persist, and its rock art has not been spared. The relatively soft agglomerate rock the Painters chose as their canvas continues to loosen bit by bit, and falls to be scoured away by winds that whip those towering heights. While one mono at the center of the cave's back wall is only a shadow, two others still assert a degree of their half-red and half-black presence. Off to the right, the procession of deer is gradually weathering away.

Directly across from La Cuevona lies an open rock shelter, an unimpressive geologic event but a lively place from the standpoint of rock art.

On a wall a little less than 100 feet long were painted several dozen figures, large and small, dominated by two fine large deer and three monos - two large and one small - which gave the impression of being a man, a woman, and a child. The large male mono is unique in being drawn with a heavy red outline filled in by horizontal bars that led us to dub him "ladder-man."
baja california Tacho Arce Enrique Hambelton

Tacho Arce and Enrique Hambelton

baja rock art cave paintings california

In Search of Painted Caves

baja rock art paintings california

Cueva Obscura

baja rock art paintings california

"The Dark Cave"

Cueva Obscura ("The Dark Cave") is about 80 feet deep, 50 feet wide, and 30 feet high at its apex, the largest true cave with significant Great Murals known to Harry Crosby. Three walls of the deep, small-mouthed cave display handsome, sophisticated groupings of animal and human figures.
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