The Bradshaw Foundation : Glossary of Terms & Definitions

Glossary of Terms & Definitions | W

 
 
 
W

Wandjina A style of aboriginal cave paintings exclusive to the Kimberley region of north-western Australia. The  figures are thought to represent mythological beings associated with the creation of the world. The ancient tradition of repainting the images, carried out by the oldest living member, still continues to some degree today. The Wandjinas are anthropomorphic figures drawn in rough outline. Some are very crude and clumsy, but others are executed with a considerable measure of primitive refinement. The natural curves and indentations of the stone are often used to create additional plastic effects. Wandjinas are generally portrayed in a horizontal position, with the face enclosed by a flat-shaped border in red or yellow ochre. Only the eyes and nose are painted, the mouth is missing. Several mythological explanations have been advanced for the lack of a mouth, but the proliferation of competing versions inevitably casts doubts on their plausibility.

Beneath the pictures one often finds skulls, painted in red ochre, with the lower part of the jaw missing. These mark the site of skull burials, at the spot where people found their 'soul-home'. Thus the mouthless faces of the Wandjinas are portraits, as it were, of the buried and painted skulls.

When Dr Lommel was shown the sites by guides in 1938, the men always approached the rock painting sites by an oddly circuitous route. They were obeying the rule that one had to follow the exact path, including all the detours, taken by the ancestor whose image is painted on the rock and which found its last resting place there. Thus the journey to the site was itself a form of commentary on the mythical memories preserved in the paintings.

The Wandjina paintings are found on the undersides of rock ledges, which shelter them against the copious rainfalls during the wet season. The pictures are a vehicle for the transmission of creation myths. According to Aboriginal legend, the world originated in what they call 'Lalai' - the Dreaming, a primordial state which is not confined to the past but stands outside time.

After the Wandjinas were created, they journeyed across the country and shaped it in its present form. It was they who made the rain and dug out the rivers, who built the mountains and levelled the plains. At a time when the stones were still 'soft', they built themselves 'houses' of stone. When they died, they lay down on the soft rocks and left the imprint of their bodies on the surface; these marks are the rock paintings which can be seen today.

At the exact spot where they left their 'shadow', the Wandjinas descended into the earth; since then, they have lived on at the bottom of the water source associated with each of the paintings. There, they continually produce new 'child-seeds', which are regarded as the source of all human life.
Willendorf The Willendorf figurine, 11.5 cm high, is estimated to have been carved between 24,000 BC and 22,000 BC. It was discovered in 1908 by archaeologist Josef Szombathy at a Palaeolithic site near Willendorf in Austria. It was carved from oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre. These figurines are often erroneously referred to a 'venus' figurines.
 
 
bradshaw foundation donate help
Mailing List

Email Sign-Up
website updates

Email

First Name

Last Name

Country

iShop
bradshaw foundation ishop tshirt
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Coso Range Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation