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PAULA CAVE BUSHMAN PAINTINGS, Erongo Mountains Namibia. Hunting parties, Animals and Ancient Dance Rituals All Depicted Here.


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Paula Cave Bushmen Paintings, Erongo Mountains Namibia

Hunting parties, Animals and Ancient Dance Rituals All Depicted Here.



Erongo Park entrance gate

Eastern  Gate to Erongo Mountain Nature Conservancy

Area surrounding Paula cave

Rugged landscape on the farm


The Paula Cave: is situated in the area of massive granite out-crops known as the Klippdachs

(rock rabbits) that lay on the western edge of the rugged and grandiose Erongo Mountain

Nature Conservancy. Should you intend making a visit to the cave you must first contact the

Erongo Wilderness Lodge as the site lays within their concession area, plus for practical purposes, the cave can only be visited by means of a guided 4x4 tour.


The Paula Cave: offered a place of shelter for the early Bushmen, plus a panoramic view of the surrounding area. It is probable that the site held an amount  spiritual significance; a place where ritual dances were performed; and a place where records of such events were depicted.

The Cave was formed from the granite by what is referred to as being Tafoni Weathering which usually takes place on the shaded side of rock formations. The Paula Cave faces in a northerly direction. However, the site being north of the Tropic of Capricorn does experience shade during the early months of the rainy season - December and January. It was during these 'wet' periods that this particular area of rock began to disintegrate. Further erosion was caused by wind blown sands. You can clearly see the water stain pattern over and above the entrance to the cave.


Paula cave location

The rocky face

Paula Cave

The Paula cave


The Paula Cave Bushman Paintings style and coloration could be compared to that which can be seen in several areas of the Erongo and the Brandberg. In the below mural we see a row of men apparently holding hands and unarmed. There are several animals, and the lower paintings are faded and open to speculations as to what they represent.

Erongo Region

2147'S - 1560'E

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Paula Cave Bushman Paintings dancing men

Go Walkabout

Paula Cave Bushman Paintings antelope


Paula Cave Bushman Paintings antelope hunt

Antelope and men


On the below central section of the mural people are thought to be performing the 'Elephant Dance' from the clothing worn for the ritual. The 3rd figure from the left appears to be a pregnant woman. As can be seen much of the painting has suffered damage of time, weather etc.


Paula Cave Bushman Paintings elephant dance

Elephant dance

Paula Cave Bushman Paintings


Paula Cave Bushman Paintings hunting scene



The renowned French archeologist and expert on rock paintings Abbe Henri Breuil visited the Paula cave during his 1950 expedition to the study the Rock Paintings of the Erongo and commented on the Paula Cave paintings: "The stone wall to the left of the cave is vertical and rather concave. Behind the paintings of some large, red-haired humans with relatively long bodies, several animals appear, amongst them elephant and rhinoceros. Further behind them is a group of black men with arrows. These (paintings) are younger and visible only when moistened. On the left side above and further back of the cave is a row of small animal headed and very mobile people in red doing a kind of mantis-dance."

There are considerable areas of the murals that are subjected to direct sun-light and weather elements which bares testimony to the ancient Busmen's knowledge and techniques for mixing their paint materials.


Acknowledgements and further reading:  G1, R3, P1 Special thanks to the Erongo Wilderness Lodge for their kind assistance.


Paula Cave Bushmen Paintings

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