Paradigm Shifts, Rock Art Studies , and the 'Coso Sheep Cult' of Eastern California
Alan P. Garfinkel
Reproductive Symbolism in Great Basin Rock Art
Bighorn Sheep Hunting, Fertility and Forager Ideology
Alan P. Garfinkel & Donald R. Austin
Coso Range rock drawings are a central subject and focus for debates positing alternative meanings and agents responsible for animal depictions in Great Basin prehistoric rock art. We present new evidence offering a middle ground between the divergent views of the ‘hunting religion, increase rites, and overkill’ and the ‘shaman, visions and rain-making’ models. We argue that rock-art images, in general, possess multivocality and manifest imbricated conceptual metaphors operating on a variety of scales simultaneously. We recognize that Coso pictures, in one sense, metaphorically represent increase and renewal, human and animal fertility, and game animal magnification. Evidence for that perspective is presented including Coso bighorn with up-raised tails, ‘spirit arrows’, animals giving birth, those that appear pregnant, and an abundance of animals evidencing vitality and movement. Ritual adept shamans also appear to have often been the religious specialists or agents responsible for Coso rock art and the sources for fashioning these images were frequently visionary experiences.
Sounds and Symbolism from the Netherworld
Acoustic Archaeology at the Animal Master’s Portal
Alan P. Garfinkel and Steven J. Waller
In the traditional worldview of the Kawaiisu, Yahwera, or the Master of the Animals, is a bird-human who lives and reigns over the Animal Underworld. The entrance to his subterranean abode is a natural feature on the landscape, a named, limestone rock portal upon which a rock painting depicts Yahwera. Kawaiisu oral narratives emphasize sound qualities attaching to this supernatural figure. Narratives also associate the “sound of the deer in the rock” with this sacred place. Indeed, the limestone monolith can be induced to exhibit acoustical attributes, specifically, multiple echoes that would seem to offer an impression of hoofbeats. Drawing on varied data, this study seeks insights into the meaning of the Yahwera narratives and the relationships of sound to elements of Kawaiisu cosmology.
Great Basin Bighorn Ceremonialism
Reflections on a Possible Sheep Shrine at the Rose Spring Site, Alta California
Robert M. Yohe II and Alan P. Garfinkel
In the early 1990s, a bighorn ram skull cap with intact horn cores, set atop a stacked rock cairn, was discovered at the Rose Spring site (CA-INY-372), located on the edge of the Coso Range at the southwestern corner of the Great Basin. In this article, we describe the character of the discovery, date the feature, and posit its meaning and function. The feature is intriguing since it might represent a prehistoric manifestation associated with Coso Representational Rock Art. The context for understanding this discovery and other prehistoric bighorn features documented in the Desert West is explored. A review of ethnographic accounts, native oral tradition and cosmology, and bighorn figurative sculptures and rock art, help us explore the religious and ceremonial significance of this animal to the aboriginal people of the region.
Bradshaw Foundation - Introduction to Coso Rock Art
Dr. Alan P. Garfinkel - About the Author
Dr. Alan P. Garfinkel - Introduction to the Research Paper
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Coso Publications by Dr. Alan P. Garfinkel
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