Print Friendly, PDF & Email
women and men and animals walking

Khoisan painting at Springfontein, Zimbabwe

Khoisan rock art was a way for artists in southern Africa to show their dreams and ideas about how the world worked, or should work. And it was a way to remember things that had happened. The artists drew these pictures for their ancestors, or for their gods.

First look at some of their paintings. What do they mean? Why would someone make a painting like that? Can you imagine why those things were important to them?

And, how did the Khoisan artists make their picture show these things? What did they make big? What did they make little? Which things are in front, and what is behind? What colors did they use? Are the lines thick? Thin? Straight or wavy?

Now try making paintings like that yourself. You can paint on a big rock, like they did, if you have one. Or you can just paint on paper. Maybe you’ll want to put your paintings up on a wall when they are done, so they can show other people what you wanted to say.

But before you begin, think about what you want to show. Is it a memory? A dream or a goal you have? The way you want your world to be? Are you drawing it for your grandmother? For your god? What is the purpose of your painting?

And also think, how can you use the methods of the Khoisan artists to make your painting show that? What should be big? What should be little? Which objects should be in front? No fair using writing! You have to convey the information in your picture.

When you’re done, see if your friends, family, or classmates can tell what your message was.

More about San rock art

Bibliography and further reading about San rock painting:

Or read this Khoisan article in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

More about African Art
More about ancient Africa home