Portfolio: Caves of Lascaux

Artist-hunters depicted game animals on the walls of the the Caves of Lascaux in what is now Southern France some 15,000 years ago.

...On the right wall, the focal point of the composition, made up of a herd of small horses, is a large black cow whose
distinguishing feature is an unusual movement evocative of a fall. Could this be in anticipation of the successful hunt?

One explanation points to the purpose of 'ritual', a ritual thought to either insure fertility or a ritual to insure a successful hunt, or possibly both. Deep within the caves, close to the womb of Mother Earth, cave artists may have thought that by capturing intricate realism, the actual animal could be ‘called’ to the hunt. Many of the natural cracks of the cave walls were used for creating the form and contour of the animal body. Some of the lines drawn seem to represent spears being pointed at the animals, and it is thought that these early hunters blended image and reality together. By making a picture of an animal to be hunted, they ‘captured its spirit’, a belief that is still reflected in many of today's cultures. The overlapping of animal images may have suggested that only one image could be used as magic for one hunt. For further info, see: http://www.cyberschool.k12.or.us/~wallace/artline/mainbegtext.htm

The images above are from: http://www.culture.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/ (Try out the interactive "flashlight" on the opening page).