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Early History of the KNP Area

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Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:21 pm Unread post
The Little People Part 3.

The majority of the paintings show human shapes in different postures e.g. sitting, sleeping, walking, running and activities like gathering, hunting, dancing, single or in groups, making fire etc. Wild animals. Birds and Reptiles have been painted with remarkable detail and finesse.

Many of the paintings depicting humans clearly indicate Bushman being short, slightly stooped with largish anterior. Other paintings depict of the Black East African people tall and slender with prominent noses and “pageboy” hairstyles.

Wild animals are well proportioned and detailed. Some of the paintings clearly identify Oribi, Reedbuck, Roan, Sable, Eland, Blue Wildebeest, Elephant, Leopard, Impala, Kudu, Klipspringer, White Rhino, Lion, Hyaena, Zebra, Wild Dog, Ostriches, Waterbuck and Monkeys. Even what seems to be a Crocodile hide is shown.

Paintings of snakes lizards and tortoises have been found.

Paintings found varied from monochrome, to polychrome- single to various colours. Colours used are mainly red, yellow, black white and grey.

The yellow and red contained iron oxide from hematite and red iron oxide for the red Hematite could by heat treatment produce different shades of red and even a purple. Limonite and iron hydroxide (ferrihydroxide) for the yellow.

Charcoal and Manganese oxides (Proselytes) provided the black, while bird droppings, Kaolin and Zink oxides provided the white. A mixture of whites and blacks provided the different shades of grey.

Pigments were prepared and mixed and the binder was very often blood or blood serum for the red. Plant sap e.g. Euphorbia for the white and water for the black. Animal fat, egg yolk and white was also used.

The paint brushes were produced from soft twigs that were chewed until bristles were formed. Feathers as well as animal hair were set in hollow reeds. Examples of finger painting are also quite plentiful.

It has often stated that these paintings were made while the artists had been worked into a trance and then give expression to their spiritual experience and visions, however this is just a possible theory, and many others feel this is just an expression of an experience or a situation.

These Little People over many centuries documented human and animal, happenings, and activities in the area. By interpreting these treasures we can all obtain a much more informed insight in the culture and rituals of the humans and animals that roamed the area. The knowledge gained assists in making management decisions e.g. the reintroduction of extinct game animals.

These Little People were not aware that their contribution to our knowledge of the history and even pre history would be so valuable to those who arrived long after their departure.

My little contribution hopefully makes the importance of preserving these historical sites very clear. These sites should be found, documented, and preserved and also knowledgably interpreted as they will surely in times still to come provide and reveal many more facts about this now near extinct little group of Little People of South Africa, who once just preferred to live their uncomplicated little lives in peace they hunted and painted and danced and were happy, they never brought harm over anyone and who never wasted.
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Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
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Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:22 pm Unread post
The Little People Part 4.

These Little People have a few different names like San, used by the Koi-Koi.

It may be that the name “San” or “Sonqua” is of Dutch origin and means “Native” or “Indigenous People” after the Dutch settlers started using the word “Bossjeman” meaning “People of/from the bush” when referring to these Little People and was in no way meant as derogatory or belittling them.

Unfortunately the word “Bushman” has now been politicized and is now regarded as belittling the Little People or has been a racist label. Studies of the Koi-Koi language have indicated that San or Koi-San actually means scoundrel.

Barrow in a report dated 1790 mentioned that :”the central theme of the origin of the “Bossiemans” is that the aboriginal “Bossiemans” skulked I the dwarf bushes of their and habitat in the interior, and from this protective cover shot their poisoned arrows at their European foes.

Smit a researcher stated that the name Bosjeman or Boescheman was already used more that a century prior to their confrontation with the Dutch Colonists during the latter half of the last century.

He stated “ long before the early Portuguese rounded the cape late in the 15th century, one branch of the southwardly migrating pastoral Hottentots deviated westwards along the bank of the Gariep, ultimately making first contact with the nomadic pigmy “Bossiemans” somewhere in the north-western Cape, but below the river. They found these strange people had curious customs, among which they used the aromatic leaves of the Pteronia onobromoides (Buchu Bush), largely to be found in the Klein Namaqualand in traditional tribal ceremonies. Because of this practise the Hottentots who, unlike the bantu, appear to have had no special name for these pigmy people, spoke of them as “Sanqua” or “San”.

San = bushes
qua = men of

which when literally and correctly translated by the early expeditions as “boshjesmans” meaning “man of the bushes”.

Later these names turned into “Boesmans” in Afrikaans and “Bushman” in English.

Smith further mentioned that “when the Hottentots became into conflict with the Bushmen they called them Abiqua or Obiqua (robber men). The term still survives in the plant vernacular name Abiquaboom or Abiquageelhot (two species of the Tamarix), as well as the place names Obiquas Mountains in the Tulbach district and Abiquaspan in the Great Namaqualand.

Hopefully I have may have cleared up a bit about the origin of the name of the little people.

I may mention that during of my early visits in the 1970s to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which was then named The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and even in the year 2002 many of the rural Little People still proudly referred to themselves as Boesman or Bushman, depending on the language. It is often such a shame that these things have to be so politicized.
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