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60 and it exhibits underlying concerns that are similar to those known to exist in San art traditions throughout southern Africa (Huffman 1983; Garlake 1987d, 1995; Walker 1996). Walker (1994) has demonstrated that similar religious beliefs and practices were central to the lives of prehistoric San groups in Matopo, a point that is corroborated by rock art evidence. Most writers agree today that the social and economic relations at the heart of San existence (past and present) are inextricably intertwined with San religious beliefs (see Lewis-Williams 1982). It is even argued that, “Their economy, social system, and religion were an integrated whole which could not be dissected without tragic results” (Lewis-Williams 1976: 33). Richard Katz (1982: 28) points out explicitly that the Ju/’hoansi consider religion as their way of life. Today many San in the Kalahari say the trance dance, a central religious institution and the numinous vehicle for the experience of the spirit world, is “the quintessential ‘Bushman thing’” (Guenther 1999: 181). In this understanding, I now proceed to show that the central notions of San supernaturalism—potency and the trance experiences are key elements in the rock art of Matopo. Religious beliefs occur in all known human societies (Hayden 1987), and they vary widely. This is true for the San of southern Africa. Many writers have observed that there are variations of religious beliefs amongst different San groups (Heinz 1975; Guenther 1981; Barnard 1988), although they all adhere to one broad religious framework. To assess some aspects of these complexities among the San, one needs to understand the concept of religion, which, unfortunately, eludes a straightforward definition. Clifford Geertz (1966, in Lewis-Williams 1975: 424), however, gave a definition of religion that is useful for our interpretation of the San situation as:

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...

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