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The general character of Bushman rock art is naturalistic, and many of the images can be seen as pictographs, in that they express ideas and are not "art for art's sake." The large majority of the figures are men and animals, but there are a few other objects which are probably symbolic, although their meaning is not always clear; In some regions the pictures are painted in colour; elsewhere only engravings or chippings occur.
The difference is due to the natural conditions of the country, although it is generally assumed that engravings are more archaic than paintings.
The Prehistoric Colour Palette used by Bushmen artists in their cave painting consisted of earth pigments.
Although African art is presented here as an integral element of economic, social, and political institutions, in the final analysis the prime element is aesthetic.Note: The earliest art of the African continent - excluding the controversial Stone Age quartzite figurine from Morocco known as the Venus of Tan-Tan (200,000-500,000 BCE) - consists of the engravings in the Blombos Caves on the Cape coast of South Africa, dating from 70,000 BCE, followed by the animal figures from the Apollo 11 Cave in the Huns Mountains of southwestern Namibia, dating from around 25,000 BCE.African rock paintings and engravings were, curiously, discovered earlier than European ones: those in southern Africa as early as the mid 18th century, those in the North in 1847 when they were found by a group of French soldiers who reported engravings of elephants, lions, antelope, bovids, ostriches, gazelles, and human beings armed with bows and arrows.Next come a group of somewhat less naturalistic drawings, of slightly more recent date.Finally, there are the comparatively late Libyan-Berber designs, described as in part rather crude animal outlines, in part designs that are of a purely geometric and schematic character.