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58 Current writers on Zimbabwean rock art have adopted interpretative analyses, and they show that San art is subtler and structured at a deeper level than can be discerned at face value. Using an ethnographic, hermeneutic approach, they discard explicitly the narrative interpretations. These writers seek to understand San art from the cultural perspective of the artists, their contemporaries and their extant descendants. A large ethnographic corpus collected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries preserves a myriad of aspects on San life, their beliefs, rituals and mythology. With this evidence, they have been able to link formlings to San ideas of supernatural potency. Likewise, I examine formlings, tree and plant motifs and their repeated painted contexts in order to penetrate their symbolism. To set the ethnographic platform for my explanation, I first discuss the core elements of San religion—concepts of supernatural potency and the spirit world.

Continuity and change in San belief and ritual  

A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand,Johannesburg, for the degree of Master of Arts. 2002, by Siyakha...