The Meaning of Rock Art
Students will about the significance of rock art and will be given
the opportunity to create their own rock art and to explain its significance
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Students will learn that art often contains a message and that ancient
works of art need to be preserved or the messages will be lost.
Students will learn
how symbols can be used to depict a story.
Students learn how to
communicate stories to their classmates.
Creating Rock Art
has used art as a way to describe their world and to communicate their
traditions and history. About 4,000 paintings and etchings can be found
in the eroded rocks of a place called Tassili-n-Ajer in Algeria. Long
ago, before the Sahara became a desert, this area was home to people who
hunted animals found today only in the savannas located far to the south.
By looking at the paintings and etchings created thousands of years ago,
we can see how life changed as the Sahara slowly became a desert.
people of Mali often depict great events by painting them on walls of
sacred Dogon cliffs. The paintings depict stories that adult members of
the community intend to pass on to the young. Generation after generation,
the Dogon renew the ancient paintings while adding additional designs
that tell new stories.
street artists paint murals that depict life in urban communities. Sometimes
the murals commemorate special events and other murals portray family
life or make political statements.
preserves the thoughts and views of people long after they have passed
away. Vandalism of rock art and murals silences the voices of those people
forever. Much of the world's ancient rock art has been destroyed by vandals
during the last 100 years. Efforts should be made to preserve remaining
rock art sites and modern murals.
4 to 5 inch flat stones, acrylic paints of various colors, glue and paint
the students paint designs on the rocks that tell stories about their
lives. When dry, paint over the design with glue. The glue creates a shiny
surface and protects the paint.
students to use African and American symbols in their designs and to
create their own symbols that relate to their lives.
The double-headed serpent reminds the Bamum people of Cameroon
that their king once fought his enemies on two fronts and won. The
Edo people of Benin City believe that snakes consume and destroy
The Edo people of Benin City believe that the crocodile symbolizes
power. The king or Oba is able to crush opposition like crocodile
crushes its prey.
The Edo people of Benin City believe that the rooster symbolizes
power and authority. The queen mother rules over the king's wives
like a rooster rules the hens.
Chevrons symbolize rain or water to the Dogon of Mali.
To the Edo people of Benin, the bird symbolizes the king's power
to overcome false prophets and fortunetellers.
To the Dogon peoples of Mali, the stool symbolizes dignity and authority.
The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
believe that the navel is a focus and release point of strong emotions.
Bared teeth generally symbolize ferocity and aggression
Round hollow Eyes
Round hollow eyes symbolize the ability to project penetrating inner
Half-closed eyes symbolize contemplation.
students stand in front of the class and show their own painted rock
and explain its symbols.
the importance of preserving rock art and murals.