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Bradshaw Figures in Cave Art

Bradshaw Figures in Cave Art

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Published by draculavanhelsing
Bradshaw Figures in Aboriginal Cave Paintings
Bradshaw Figures in Aboriginal Cave Paintings

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Aug 13, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/15/2014

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L’art pléistocène dans le monde / Pleistocene art of the world / Arte pleistocénico del Mundo
The
Gwion
or Bradshaw art style of Australia’s Kimberley régionis undoubtedly among the earliest rock art in the country –but is it Pleistocene?
Mike DONALDSON
Abstract:
The spectacular and finely executed paintings of human figures that havebecome known as “Bradshaws” intrigue all who see them in the remote rock sheltersof Western Australia’s Kimberley. In the sequence of Kimberley rock art, thesefigures, termed Gwion
 
Gwion or 
Guyon
by some Aboriginal groups, clearly pre-datethe
Wandjina
paintings that form part of the region’s ongoing Aboriginal culture, and which dates back almost 4,000 years. Although dating the Bradshaws remainselusive, tantalizing optically stimulated luminescence dates of sand grains from mud wasp nests that overly “Bradshaw style” paintings suggest a minimum age of 17,500 years for the art work.
The Kimberley region of north-west Australia is a largely wilderness area almost thesize of France (Fig. 1). The richness of the area’s rock art has been appreciated for many years, and there is a strong continuing indigenous culture relating particularlyto the spectacular 
Wandjina
paintings. However,
Wandjinas
represent just one of many art styles that occur throughout the Kimberley (e.g. Crawford 1968; Walsh1988; Flood 1997; Morwood 2002; Donaldson 2007). The paintings span a period of perhaps 40,000 years, and four distinct periods are recognised (e.g. Welch 1999;Walsh 2000):• early naturalistic animals with irregular painted infill (Fig. 2)
Gwion
or Bradshaw figures (Fig. 3)
Wandjinas
(Fig. 4)• Post-European contact art (Fig. 5).The Post-European contact art dates from perhaps the mid 17
th
Century, and
Wandjina
art has recently been confirmed to date from almost 4,000 years ago(Morwood
et al.
2010). Reliable dates for the earlier art styles remain elusive, butsome results suggest the
Gwion
paintings are at least 16,400 years old (Roberts
et al.
1997).
 
DONALDSON M., “The
Gwion
or Bradshaw art style of Australia’s Kimberley region is undoubtedly among the earliest rockart in the country –but is it Pleistocene?”
Congrès de l’IFRAO, septembre 2010 – Symposium : L’art pléistocène en Australie (Pré-Actes)IFRAO Congress, September 2010 – Symposium: Pleistocene art of Australia (Pre-Acts)
2
Fig. 1.
Satellite image of Australia showing the Kimberley area.
Fig. 2.
Early Kimberley Irregular Infill Animal painting of a fish, 40 cm long.
Fig. 3.
Kimberley art panel of typical Sash Bradshaw figures illustrating complexsuperposition. The panel is 2 m wide.
 
DONALDSON M., “The
Gwion
or Bradshaw art style of Australia’s Kimberley region is undoubtedly among the earliest rockart in the country –but is it Pleistocene?”
Congrès de l’IFRAO, septembre 2010 – Symposium : L’art pléistocène en Australie (Pré-Actes)IFRAO Congress, September 2010 – Symposium: Pleistocene art of Australia (Pre-Acts)
3
Fig. 4.
Kimberley
Wandjina
figures represent cloud spirits and form part of a continuingcultural tradition dating back almost 4,000 years. The central face is 30 cm wide.
Fig. 5.
Post European contact art depicting 17
th
Century pipe-smoking Dutch sailors in arowing boat equipped with rowlocks and oars. Bigge Island, Kimberley coast.
Gwion
paintings
Since the first publication of sketches by pastoralist/explorer Joseph Bradshaw(1892), the finely painted small red human figures from the northern Kimberley regionof Western Australia that became known as “Bradshaw figures” have fascinated andintrigued all who see them. Bradshaw likened the paintings to early Egyptian art, anddid “not attribute them to the present representations of the Black race” (Bradshaw1892).

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