The Cave Paintings of Baja California

The Sierra de San Francisco

Page 6 of 10


The approximately 300 different painted caves and shelters thus far discovered in the Great Mural area vary widely in size, exposure, rock condition, and other factors that affect the survival of painted art. Many combinations are possible. Large, well overhung shelters often were formed from soft rock and lost their paintings quickly. Here, a small, little-protected site at El Brinco includes a durable rock surface that preserves an attractive group of paintings (below left).

baja rock art paintings california

El Brinco IV

baja rock art paintings california

El Brinco V


A striking display of Great Mural art (above right) is hidden in a vast open cave high above a minor watercourse in a central but particularly inaccessible part of the sierra . Durable rock and good protection explain the well-preserved paintings of men, women, deer, rabbits, and fish. The remoteness of such places from scenes of hunting or food gathering and the relative absence of artifacts suggest that people visited them only to produce the huge paintings and then to commune with them.

A minor cave with major art, Boca de San Julio is about 70 feet long and 8 to 12 feet high, unfortunately the stone of Boca de San Julio is quite soft - it sheds its substance in a constant sloughing of grains, and all the paintings have been damaged in the process. At the west end is the greatest concentration of works, several large and small deer much overpainted. Under them are a large number of smaller figures including rabbits, birds, monos (actually half-monos as at Cueva de las Flechas), and an odd half-red, half-black image in a damaged state, that appears to be a depiction of a chubby seal or sea lion. At the right end is an exceptional show. Four birds rendered in dark red, pink, and white decorate one small rock panel. All are badly damaged, but mercifully the two larger ones are in good enough condition that facsimiles can be made. These depictions of birds with wing spreads of about 30 inches appear to represent some sort of shorebird or water fowl; perhaps one is a cormorant and the other a duck or goose. In each case the painting is beautiful; the basic form has been drawn in dark red and the whole image is outlined in pink and white. The technique makes the display of flight feathers appear alternately red and pink.

Harry Crosby takes notes while sitting below the east end of the single, 50-foot-long painted panel at Boca de San Julio, one of the Sierra de San Francisco's most beautiful and readily accessible small sites. In addition to elegant images of deer, the cave is notable for paintings of several shorebirds with elaborate plumage.

Cuesta de San Pablo, the walls of this cave eroded from a gray conglomerate made up of fine particles. The form of the eroded surface is unusual in that it mimics the character of draped material. This curtained pattern parts to leave two fairly smooth clear areas about twelve feet high. That on the left was decorated with a rather stylish if unintentional grouping of three distinguishable figures (below left): a deer; a gato montés, or bobcat; and a mono. The bobcat closely resembles the Painters' depiction of a mountain lion except that it bears a well-defined, stubby tail.

baja rock art paintings california

Cuesta de San Pablo I

baja rock art paintings california

Cuesta de San Pablo II


A few subjects made up the majority of the Painters' artistic images; humans and deer abound. However, if one is patient and looks into every corner, he will find diversity. Here, in a small cave at Cuesta de San Pablo (above right), seldom-portrayed manta rays provide the principal show. The Painters visited their two shores and knew many forms of sea life in detail - as they proved with skillfully created images of fish, turtles, sea mammals, and shorebirds placed on cave walls 25 miles from the nearest arm of the sea.


Introduction to the Cave Paintings of Baja California
Harry W. Crosby - About the Author
The Sierra de San Francisco | Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
Baja Rock Paintings Style Table |

American Rock Art Archive |

bradshaw foundation donate help
Mailing List

Email Sign-Up
website updates

Email

First Name

Last Name

Country

Podcast
bradshaw foundation podcast
DVD
bradshaw foundation ishop dvd
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Coso Range Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes List of Research Papers Other Websites Contact the Foundation