COLOMBIAN ROCK ART MOTIFS:
SOME IDEAS FOR INTERPRETATION
HARRY A. MARRINER
GROUP LEADER WESTERN CUNDINAMARCA INVESTIGATIONS
GIPRI COLOMBIA AUGUST 2002
During the Spanish conquest of Colombia,
most shamans, and other persons (chiefs or caciques, zipas,
zaques, and jeques) that had been indoctrinated into secret
societies, were killed before anyone bothered to ask about
the meanings of the rock art motifs found in nearly all areas
of Colombia. These religious and political leaders were probably
the unknown artists who painted or engraved rocks that we
find scattered throughout Colombia today. Most likely the
jeques or high priests were the painters of the majority
of the works we see today. They were the ones who could predict
the future, talk to the spirits of dead ancestors, change
themselves into animals, go on shamanic flights, control the
movement of the sun, bring rain, stop floods, balance the
cosmos, and heal the sick.
A complex preparation for Muisca priesthood
most certainly affected the candidate's perception of the
world and the cosmos for the rest of his life. Attempts to
interpret Colombian rock art should take this altered perception
into consideration. Young boys were selected for priesthood
when they were ten years old and isolated in a hut for four
to six years. They were only allowed to eat one meal per day
consisting of toasted corn, small potatoes and wild herbs.
No salt was allowed. Their beverage was a local fermented
corn beer called chicha. Candidates were not allowed
to leave the hut during daylight hours and were served food
through a small hole. After eating, the only parts of the
body that could be washed were the fingers. When the candidate
finally completed his many years of schooling, he was washed
with cold water, dressed in a white manta or cloak,
and presented to the chief for consecration. The final test
before being ordained was one of sexual abstination. The candidate
had to sleep next to two fourteen year old girls for four
months and not touch them. If he failed this test he was killed
during the early Muisca period. During the later Muisca times
the boy who couldn't control himself was simply allowed to
return to his former place in society. Successful candidates
were ordained as jeques and spent most of their time
masticating coca mixed with organic lime during the night
near a cave or hut that was isolated, but only a short walking
distance from the tribal center. Here they performed their
priestly duties and went on vision quests. After returning
from their vision quests, initiations, rites, or shamanic
trances, the learned ones would record their visions or other
information important to them or their tribe, by creating
pictographs or petroglyphs at sacred sites that would be there
for future reference or mantric use. These were important
sites, reused over and over again for ceremonies such as:
marriages, initiation, prayers and celestial observation.
The Catholic Church insisted that every priest in charge of
indoctrinating a tribe interrogate the Indians to find out who
were the "mohanes, chupaderos and hechiceros"
and what "harm" they did. Every way possible was
used to separate the Indians from following their traditional
beliefs and ceremonies. When this proved impossible, Spanish
priests mounted Christian crosses on top of rocks containing
native rock art, held mass at sacred Indian ceremonial sites,
and even painted Catholic abbreviations such as "IHS"
(Zipacon, Cundinamarca) and religious sayings in Latin such
as "Ipse Jubet Mortis Nos" (The same person gives
us life and death) (Facatativa, Cundinamarca) (Munoz1:18)
on the rock using the same colors and dyes used by the Indians
to show the power of the Catholic Church over native religions.
Indians who survived the Spanish onslaught
obviously weren't the ones entrusted with the secret signs,
symbols and cosmic knowledge of their tribe. All the survivors
would say was that the paintings and engravings were there
long before they were born and that their meaning was unknown
to them. The few who had some insight into rock art meanings
kept their mouths shut to avoid being tortured or killed for
beliefs in the "devil."
Studies of the meanings behind rock art
motifs in Colombia have been frustrated by the lack of knowledge
of even which culture made them since most Indigenous populations
and their settlements disappeared rapidly when the Spaniards
arrived. Today, for example, we can only say that rock art
in the Savanna of Bogota and in the mountainous terrain leading
down to the Magdalena River valley is in what we call the
historic Muisca and Panche cultural zones. In the Panche zone,
the province of Tocaima was decimated from 15,000 taxpaying
Indians in 1542 to only 1,300 during a forty year period up
until 1582. Close to 800 rock art sites have been identified
by GIPRI in this limited area, with few clues to identify
the artists. Since the few remaining natives lost most of
their cultural heritage when they were absorbed into the Spanish
culture, it's difficult to prove, using available resources,
whether the Muiscas, Panches or a previous culture provided
the artists who put their marks on stone in these areas. The
situation is similar for most Colombian rock art zones, but
migration of customs and beliefs may sometimes be traced if
rock art motifs are closely examined and compared to other
One example of cultural iconographic migration may be seen in
the San Agustin area of southern Colombia where a large number
of anthropomorphic stone statues clearly show sharp canine
teeth associated with the transformation of shamans into jaguars.
This indicates a possible connection to the area-specific
Amazonian jungle jaguar cult beliefs. Another clue that may
be used to associate this culture with another area is possible
portrayal of phlegm coming from the mouth with a head at the
end. This "substance" leaving the mouth has been
described variously as an "anthropomorphic figure"
(Rouillard 36) an "animal" (Fig.1) and related to
the action of "licking, sucking, spitting or ritual vomit"
(Sotomayor plate 39) (Figs. 2&3). It's interesting to
note that shamans located to the south of San Agustin in the
Peruvian upper Amazon River guard one aspect of their power
as a thick white phlegm (yachay) in their upper stomach.
This represents power as knowledge. Part of this phlegm is
regurgitated and given to a student shaman to drink, thereby
passing on knowledge and power (Fig. 4) (Vitebsky 24). This
act appears to be represented in some of the San Agustin statues
and may indicate a link to the Peruvian upper Amazon culture.
Stylistic, symbolic, and technical similarities
of gold artifacts of birdmen of the Tairona and the Muisca
cultures suggests a possible physical and cultural migration
from the Caribbean coastal area of the Tairona to the Andean
highlands area of the Muisca around 600 AD, possibly via the
Magdalena River (Legast 92). Cultural influences from the
lowland plains area east of the Muisca territory may have
filtered into the highlands since the acuatic jungle anaconda
(large snake) myth is seen in the highland Muisca area represented
on ceramics with its distinctive black circular markings.
Other influences from the west in the Calima (bird-shaped
pectorals) and Cauca (crested bird motif) areas show up in
some Muisca-made gold artifacts.
North American Indian cultures, expressed
many abstract ideas pictorially writing on bark, hides and
rocks. These ideas were universally understood for centuries
from coast to coast. Indians traveling from one tribe to another
had no trouble understanding basic universal symbols, although
the largest volume of their picture writing probably represented
personal and tribal names (Mallery vol 2 pg 584). Colombian
art appears to use the same symbol in many different areas, but
a personal or tribal name doesn't appear to have been used
in Colombia in the same manner as in North America. The meaning
of many other symbols may have been almost universal throughout
The intent of this paper is to present some
Colombian rock art motifs and suggest possible meanings using
ethnographic comparisons. Interpretation of Colombian rock
art symbols is very risky and the author doesn't claim to
have "the last word" but, desires to present some
ideas based on over twenty years studying Colombian rock art
and indigenous history. Hopefully the suggestions presented
here will provide a basis for future researchers to further
explore the meanings behind symbols painted and engraved on
rocks at sites sacred to the ancient inhabitants of Colombia.
Several thousand years ago indigenous cultures
in the northern part of South America shared a complex system
of shamanic beliefs with Central American cultures. This area
can be defined as a triangle between Costa Rica, the lower
Orinoco River and the northwest Amazon region (Reichel-Dolmatoff:80).
Many times (but not always) we can obtain ideas from meanings
and uses of rock art signs, emblems and symbols in other cultures
to lead us to approximate their use and meaning in the current
study area. "Signs" were used to commemorate, instruct,
indicate direction, or warn of danger or natural resources
close by. "Emblems" were tribal, clan, or secret
society designs used to identify tribal boundaries, trade
routes, or special sites. "Symbols" were used to
represent universal concepts or ones only known to a specific
tribe, cult, shaman or individual rock artist. The majority
of Colombian rock art appears to be in the symbol category.
It should be noted that most Colombian pictographs
were painted with a red pigment made from cinnabar, ochre,
or iron oxide mixed with fat or other substance to form a
watery, but glutinous paste. Most pictographs appear to be
"finger painted," but Muisca cotton cloaks were
known to have been painted with brushes made from sticks fixed
to animal fur. Red may have represented blood (menstruation=life=fertility),
or a blood relation covenant in a literal sense related to
secret societies. This color may have had a special symbolic
associated exclusively with priests or chiefs communicating with
their gods. Some white, yellow, and black pictographs also
occur, but these are a minority. A black pictograph at a high
altitude windswept site near Subachoque, Cundinamarca resembles
dark storm clouds possibly associated with a site that may
have been used to invoke rain from the sky god.
Carved and painted rock statues in the San
Agustin, Huila area indicate the probability that many (possibly
all?) petroglyphs were also painted. In some areas today Indians
accent the petroglyph grooves with vegetable pigments (Gelemur
pg 19). In the Mataven River region of the Orinoco, Indians
continue to retouch ancient petroglyphs occasionally by deepening
the grooves and removing the darker patina.
Hopefully future researchers use the ideas
presented here as the basis for a deeper study into the meaning
of Colombian rock art motifs and that more ethnographic information
pertaining to Indian rock art in Colombia is found to confirm
these suggested interpretations.
Spirals in rock art are found throughout
the world. Many North American Indian cultures associate counterclockwise
spirals (starting from the center) with the concept of rising,
and the clockwise spiral with the concept of descending. In
Colombia, both clockwise and counterclockwise spirals are
found in petroglyphs. Most of these are found at altitudes
lower than 2,600 meters above sea level. Pictographs of spirals
in Colombia are almost always angular. Petroglyphs of spirals
are found in both curvilinear and angular styles, but curvilinear
spiral petroglyphs are much more common (Figs. 5 & 6).
One pictograph in Macheta, Boyaca is formed
of four angled spirals in the general shape of a diamond (Fig.
Recent archaeological studies indicate that
Colombian petroglyphs may have been made during early Carib
or Arawak migrations along major river systems such as the
Magdalena, Cauca, Amazon and Orinoco. Later, their Carib coastal
relations in Colombia and Venezuela settled many Caribbean
islands including Hispanola, Dominica and Puerto Rico.
While many similar motifs are found in both pictographs and petroglyphs
in some inland cultural zone border areas, the basic design
structure of pictographs and petroglyphs is completely different.
Most petroglyphs are curvilinear while the majority of pictographs
are angular. While there are many exceptions, this basic difference
strongly indicates an origin from different cultures. Some
identical symbols crossed tribal border zones and are found
represented in both pictograph and petroglyph form. This is
not surprising since women and children were frequently captured
from neighboring tribes, and naturally carried their tribal
beliefs with them.
Petroglyph spirals appear to be related
with the summer or winter solstice in some instances. Sometimes
a spiral appears to have been used as an indicator for cyclical
solar events. This is seen at the Ainsuca site, Sasaima, Cundinamarca
where the shadow of a stick placed in the first of a line
of small cupules marks the winter solstice sunrise (Marriner
42) by passing through the center of a spiral forming part
of a double spiral (Fig. 8). At the Media Luna site, Nilo,
Cundinamarca, a shadow also indicates the summer solstice
sunrise. Here, the shadow of a rock post begins in the middle
of concentric circles, then follows a wavy "tail"
of the concentric circles until it meets the ground (Fig.
9). The spiral motif, as well as many variations of circle
motifs, was many times used to symbolize the sun at solstice
in Colombian rock art. The concept of time being associated
with the spiral is not new. It was viewed in the North American
Dakota tribe as a snail shell and fully described as being
a petroglyph used in the recording and computation of time
(Mallery V. 2: 746). The North American Ojibwa used the spiral
to record sacred spots or places along a line on a petroglyph
story map where a shaman conducted rites during an epic migration
(Mallery vol. 2: 566).
It's interesting to consider (at least in
the northern hemisphere between the equator and the tropic
of Cancer), that the clockwise spiral might represent the
sun's path from it's rebirth at winter solstice to the zenith
passage date. After that date, an observer would face north
and see the sun's path as an increasing counterclockwise spiral.
The double spiral motif may show an incorporation of both
summer and winter solstice symbols in one motif. The winter
considered to be a very special time for shamanic trips making
its date very important in the annual calendar of events.
Solstices in highland Colombia mark the beginning of the two
dry seasons (Dec-Feb and June-Aug). As a hidden or esoteric
device, at the same time, these portrayals may have represented
a shaman's spirit helper or the shaman himself transformed
into an animal capable of bringing back specific knowledge
from another spiritual world or balancing the wet and dry
periods needed for agricultural production.
Oster (1970) listed the counterclockwise
spiral as one of the more common phosphenes, or designs seen
during a shamanic trance. A similar, but clockwise spiral
is drawn by the Tukano Indians of the Amazon basin during
a special ceremony (Reichel Dolmatoff, 1978). This may be
similar to North American Indian sand painting ceremonies
which frequently incorporated spirals to build power or energy
(Medicine Hawk 133).
In the ancient Samoga (now Bonafort) zone
of Caldas, Colombia, Indian chief Merardo Largo of the ancient
Umbra cultural zone accompanied University of Caldas researchers
in 1995, and may be one of the few living Colombians who has
inherited some of the knowledge locked in the engraved stones
we are attempting to decipher. Largo views petroglyphs as
sacred writing under the protection of a shaman, similar to
the stone tablets of Moses containing the ten commandments.
Periodically the shaman takes selected tribal members to the
rock art site for instruction. In other words, it's a book
written on rock, or "hard" knowledge describing
a life cycle of birth, baptism, initiation, matrimony and
death. He interprets rock art spirals in the following different
ways, depending on their location in the grouping, symbols
joining them, size, and other subtle differences:
1. THINKING/INHERITED POWER/TRANCE STATE.
Merardo interpreted the spiral to be the symbol for a person
thinking, but in the same petroglyph group he interprets another
spiral as representing inherited power that will be given
to a son. If it's true that the Colombian spiral symbolizes
"thinking", then it's logical to
believe that it could also have been used as a mandala, or a visual
device used by a shaman to enter a trance state through prolonged,
concentrated staring (thinking) at it at a sacred site at
a sacred time of the year.
2. PUBERTY RITE. Chief Largo also
interpreted another petroglyph group with two spirals joined
with a "V" and a triangular shape in the center,
as a site for puberty initiations (Fig. 10). The triangle
represents an ax head, associated with males and the capacity
to transform and reproduce. The "V" represents union
or marriage (possibly a vulva symbol), and the two spirals
represent two persons "thinking" about matrimony,
but only in the future sense since the puberty initiation
rite is a public ceremony announcing that the participant
is now ready for marriage. The isolated spiral represents
a Tamara, or shaman-priest, in the Escopetera-Pirza (was Samoga)
zone who presides over tribal ceremonies. Cupules represent
small sauce pans symbolizing a fertile woman.
3. MARRIAGE RITE. A third group including
spiral petroglyphs at La Rochela, lower Quimbaya area (Fig.
11), was viewed by Largo as an ancient Umbra marriage site.
Here, he said, in the early morning, the Tamara or Kurarka
(priest) presented the bride to the groom on the flat top
of the rock, where the petroglyphs were engraved. Guests sat
on the ground, pressed close to the rock, with their backs
to the participants. A gully, with a flowing stream, is below
the guests. When the sun rose, everyone turned to greet it.
When the ceremony was finished, the groom descended and joined
the bride. Together they walked down to the stream, and bathed,
In the center top of the petroglyph grouping
is a circle with two parallel lines joined to it (f.). This
the Umbra symbol for the number "12" meaning maude
ombea, literally 10 + 2. The petroglyph motif is formed
by the "O" meaning "ten" and the two lines
meaning "two." This is the only number interpreted
so far in Colombian petroglyphs as phonographic writing .
It was a reminder that marriages had to take place on the
12th day of the month. The Umbra year consisted
of six months. Two of their years (6 months+6 months=12 months)
equals one of our modern years. A different date was designated
as special for baptisms.
A very important and unusual portrayal of
an instrument used for astronomical observations is depicted
in the middle of the spirals in this grouping (g.). This scientific
instrument, made of gold, was used by the Tamara or shaman,
as a sighting device to observe the rising sun on the day
of the marriage, to confine or limit it's movement, orient
its rays, and to make predictions (possibly also to stop the
sun's movement south at the winter solstice?).
At Carmelo, Piedra del Lomo, in the Quimbaya
Media area, there is a rock art site that was used for Chami
culture marriages until 1947. It has a petroglyph motif portraying
(according to Largo) two participants standing back to back
(spirals formed of two lines each) during the marriage ceremony
(indicated by a "V")(Fig. 12). Chamis and Umbras
have common ancestry and the similarity of designs suggests
a common meaning. A petroglyph at Apulo in the Panche zone
of two anthropomorphs seated back to back suggests a similar
ceremony (Fig. 13).
The origin of the Chami matrimonial symbol
of two spirals joined by a "V" originates from a
hand-sign held over the head during the wedding ceremony.
Each participant places their two thumbs together with the
last joint containing the thumbnail apart from the other thumb,
forming the "V" symbol for matrimony. Both index
fingers are closed forming two spirals (Figs. 14 and18). This
important discovery is the first confirmation that some Colombian
rock art was based on sign language. Note the position of
the upraised arms in the previously mentioned Apulo petroglyph
. The silhoutte of a "V" formed between the heads,
and the curling arms, form a shape similar to the matrimony
symbol at the Chami marriage site. The Chami sign language
may have been previously based on the shape formed when the
participants sit or stand back to back
during the marriage ceremony with their arms raised. The only
bas relief symbol at the Piedra del Sol petroglyph
at Media Luna, Nilo, Cundinamarca is a large "V"
indicating that this may be a Panche zone marriage site (Fig.
15). In 1938 Dario Rozo made an attempt to translate Muisca
(Chibcha) pictographs based on separating their components,
but his efforts were not accepted by the scientific community
(Mitologia y Escritura de los Chibchas). Another look
should be taken at his works considering recent discoveries.
Reichel-Dolmatoff (143) suggests that, in
the case of Tairona gold figurines, this "back to back"
spiral motif represents the power of fertility, in the sense
of growth and vegetal renewal. He also mentions that spirals
are decoration details on figurines indicating a shaman in
ecstatic flight (thinking or dreaming). It's interesting to
note the similarity of the Chami marriage rite hand sign and
the Tairona solstice icon pectoral to the shape of a bat in
flight. Bats were sacred to the Tairona and many other Colombian
cultures (Figs. 16 and 19).
SHAMAN-In this same group of marriage-related
symbols, the Tamara or shaman is said to be represented at
the top right by the largest single spiral, showing that he
is different and more important than the others (Fig. 11).
He is alone "thinking." The Tamara is the one who
guides man, all living things, and nature. He lives alone,
celibate at this rock.
The role of the shaman in the Desana culture
in the Vaupes department is similar to the role of most shamans
worldwide. It is to be a societal interpreter and spokesperson
for the community before the unknown. The shaman is the intermediary
between nature the giver and culture the taker; he is the
mediator between the production of food and the consumer,
the messenger of the sun and the controller of power that
maintains the equilibrium of the jungle world, and the intermediary
between the hunter and the owners of nature's productive elements.
The shaman doesn't just ask for one animal for one hunter,
but negotiates with the "master of the animals"
for an abundance of one kind of animal during the hunting
season. In return, as payment, he promises to deliver the
spirits of humans when they die. (Reichel-Dolmatoff 1986:107,
PROCREATION OF ANIMALS-The upper left spiral in this grouping
is shown to have a "head," and is said to represent
the procreation of animals. The glyph below is supposed to
represent two animals mating, a fertility symbol (Fig. 11b.).
THE MARRIED COUPLE-Below the coupling
animals are two double-spiral motifs (Fig. 11c. and d.) opposing
each other. The bottom one (Fig. 11a.) begins at the two lines
in center of the right spiral. One line represents the man
and the other the woman. Note that they are separate at the
beginning, but run parallel to each other until the end of
their life. The double-spiral above this motif represents
the consummated marriage of the couple who live together for
life. Another portrayal of the married couple is located at
the lower right of the grouping, but with the addition of
a triangle with a circle inside (Fig. 11i.). The triangle
represents the mother's uterus and the circle represents the
child at the moment of birth. It is a prediction of happiness
in the near future.
Designs of Tairona gold "winged objects"
are similar in form to the "married couple" petroglyph
and may have a common ancestral origin. Reichel-Dolmatoff
(149, 156) (Fig. 17) assigned this motif the name of "Icon
D, the solstitial icon" and believes it relates to shamanistic
practices involving the sun, procreator and father of all
THE CHILD-At the bottom left of the
group, a small spiral (Fig. 11e) represents a child, the expected
result of matrimony. The spiral at the upper right (Fig. 11h.)
represents the everpresent solitary Tamara or shaman.
OTHER ROCK ART SPIRALS
Tails of monkeys and coiled snakes are almost
certainly portrayed in some Colombian spiral petroglyphs such
as those found in Tibacuy, Cundinamarca (Figs. 19 and 20).
Muisca gold offerings confirm the importance of animals associated
with spirals in tribal cultures (Fig. 21).
In some cultures (for example the Dakota
of north America) the spiral represents the shell of a snail
or conch, and is related to the recording and
computation of time (Mallery 2:746). Time was very important to
Wind, whirlpools, and whirlwinds are occurrences
in nature and should also be considered when attempting an
interpretation of Colombian spiral rock art designs. Hopi
Indians used the spiral as a symbol of migration to new lands.
The Ojibwa used the spiral to indicate physical, sacred places
along a line on a pictorial map showing the route of their
migration mixing religion and myth. Each sacred site located
by a spiral is a place where a shaman held a ceremony or conducted
a rite. This migratory path starts from a circle with a dot
in the center. The circle represented the world and it's horizon,
while the dot represented an imagined island or original home
of the human race (Mallery 2:566).
It is important to note that a symbol represents
a general concept. Interpretation of rock art symbols involve
deciphering a meaning that is extended from that general concept.
For example, the basic concept of a circle and a dot is held
in one place. The dot indicates a fixed spot, while the
circle represents holding. In sign language, this symbol is
made by encircling arms. Extending this concept by looking
at the symbol in context with others on the panel, this symbol
may be interpreted to mean many other things such as: waterhole,
unable to get out, corralled, out of reach, within, a good
place, pinned down, etc. (Martineau 37).
Moki Indians of northeastern Arizona say
the single spiral is the symbol of Ho-bo-bo, the twister,
who shows his power in the whirlwind. Their myth states that
a stranger came among the people when a great whirlwind blew
all the water and vegetation off the earth. Using a flint
he carved spiral symbols on a rock and told them he was the
keeper of the breath and that the air which men breathe comes
from his mouth. (Fig. 22).
The association of the spiral form with
wind continues southward. In Mesoamerica a "Wind Jewel"
was worn around the neck and hung as a pectoral by priest
members of the Quetzalcoatl cult. It was made by cutting a
marine conch shell crosswise to reveal the spiral within.
The spiral represented Ehecatl (wind), a complex aspect of
Quetzalcoatl-Xolotl (venus as morning and evening star). Ehecatl
symbolized the air
and sky as mediator between the heavens, earth, and underworld,
and wind in the form of moving air, be it breeze or wind storm,
and on a more esoteric level he represented the breath of
life. Ehecatl also set the sun and heavenly bodies in motion
(Labbe 15, 17).
Further south, in the case of the Muiscas,
a "walking spiral" with "feet" at the
end of "spikes" protruding from the spiral is frequently
seen painted on ceramics (Fig 23). This motif may indirectly
represent the sun, but more directly may be a depiction of
the marine conch, used as a horn in sacred ceremonies (Fig.
24). The U'wa, genetically related to the Muisca, use conch
shells in healing ceremonies and also as musical horns to
invite the tribe and the gods to a celebration. The symbolism
of the spiral and conch probably also represents lime powder
made by grinding conch or large land snail shells, that is
mixed with powdered coca leaves for religious purposes. Conch
shells, spirals and their representation in rock art obviously
are associated with the shaman who uses the coca mixture to
communicate with parallel worlds and give tribute to the sun
during special ceremonies.
Summary: The spiral in Colombian
petroglyphs in many cases, may symbolize a shaman, his activities,
or other person, in a trance state, or in heavy, serious concentration
during a sacred ritual or ceremony. It probably was also used
as a practical device at some sites to indicate the time of
a winter or summer solstice ceremony incorporating sunrise
shadows. When used to represent an animal such as a serpent,
or part of an animal, such as the tail of a monkey, the spiral
may have indicated a shamanic spirit helper or the shaman
himself transformed into that animal. A variation of the spiral
motif with "legs" may also be related to shamanistic
healing ceremonies and ceremonial activities involving coca
and lime consumption. Associating Colombian spirals with the
wind has not been confirmed as in central and northern America,
but studies are continuing in this area.
Chief Largo describes a Picará sacrifice
as follows: "The victim, a prisoner, was laid on his
back on the rock with his face upwards. The priest, using
a polished rock knife, opened the victim's chest and
grasped the pulsating heart. This was the way the priest gave
homage to deceased brave chiefs. Water was then agitated in
large gourds with holes. The noise imitated the sound of the
jaguar. The heart was then placed in another gourd and a toast
was made to the jaguar god" (Gelemur 94).
A petroglyph site located at the base of
the Quimbayo or Picara Hill, at Monte Oscuro, in the Escopetera-Pirza
Indian Reservation, was described by Gelemur and Rendon (Fig.
25) as a sacrificial site containing petroglyphs engraved
by both Picaras and "Chibchas." The term "Chibcha"
is actually a term used in modern times by most Colombian
anthropologists to describe a language spoken by many different,
but linguistically related Colombian cultures (Kogi, Muisca,
U'wa, Cuna, and Guane). Gelemur references the high plains
Chibchas, who are normally designated by the name Muiscas.
She states that "Chibchas" visited and engraved
the sacrificial rock using a different style from the Picaras,
and used it for fertility rites. In fact, Muisca zone pictographs
differ greatly from Picara petroglyphs, and the Monte Oscuro
petroglyphs are not considered by this author to have been
made by Muiscas. The triangular head (Fig. 26) and other aspects
of the sacrificial rock petroglyphs appear to be more similar
to petroglyphs found in the Panche cultural zone bordering
the Muiscas (e.g. Piedra de Las Cabezas Triangulares (Fig.
27), Cachipay, Cundinamarca). Triangular heads may represent
shamanic activity incorporating the weasel or "comedreja"
abundant in the Panche/Muisca zone. Weasels were sometimes
represented in the form of Muisca gold "tunjo" offerings.
An unusual exception is one pictograph of triangular heads
at Las Petacas, Tenjo, Cundinamarca in the Muisca zone (Fig.
28) that may represent the three forms (Trinity) of the Muisca
god Bochica; or possibly it represents the goddess Bachue
and her offspring. She originally populated the Muisca nation
through an incestuous relationship with her son.
One aspect of the Monte Oscuro site does
appear to confirm the thesis that it was a sacrificial site;
some anthropomorphic figures are upside down. This method
of portraying a dead person or sacrificial victim was common
in North American Ojibwa, Chumash, Plains and Iroquis, and
in Central American Aztec cultures (Martineau 139; Hudson
and Lee 43,
Mallery 660) and appears to be a universal concept continued into
Colombia. At Piedra del Fraile, San Francisco (Panche zone),
Cundinamarca, one anthropomorphic petroglyph figure is portrayed
upside down in the midst of many figures engaged in some sort
of ceremony (Marriner, Rupestre No. 2:27) (Fig. 29).
Ritual death and rebirth is a universal concept associated
with the activities of shamans and their initiation rites,
so the context of the upside down figure in relation to the
entire panel needs to be closely examined in order to determine
if the figure represents death in battle, a sacrifice, or
a ritual death and rebirth. We also see at Piedra del Fraile
two figures with a common foot, that Gelemur suggests in the
Picara zone represents a shaman and his sacrificial victim.
A Tibacuy zone petroglyph also shows two connected figures
(Fig. 30). An additional aid to identification of the Picara
site as being sacrificial is the portrayal of two decapitated
victims next to one upside down. Their heads are separated
from their bodies by the arm of the shaman extended into the
form of a spiral. The shaman holds a stone knife. A curved
instrument supposedly also used for the sacrifice touches
the shaman. (See Fig. 25., Middle of right side).
The owl is prominent in both Muisca and
Embera-Chami mythology. Gelemur (Gelemur, 125) gives convincing
evidence of the portrayal, at a site called La Curva, of an
Embera Chami legend about the creation of an owl (Currucutao)
from the unfaithful wife of the moon. Cupules at the east
side of the petroglyph group supposedly represent the moon
(Fig. 31), while an owl is represented on an object supposed
to be a nest. These moon symbols may show the full, 1/2 and
crescent moon phases (Fig. 32). Two joined spirals may represent
the movement of the moon in this grouping. This interpretation
is logical since this classical depiction of the spiral symbolizes
the orbit of the moon according to Marius Schneider (Cirlot,
At Ainsuca, Sasaima, Cundinamarca, the owl
may have been represented in another way (Fig. 33). This petroglyph
is in the Panche cultural zone, bordering the Muiscas who
tell the legend of the rebel goddess Huitaca who was turned
into an owl by the powerful god Bochica as punishment for
Bogota savanna. A more realistic petroglyph of owls is seen in
soft sandstone at Perico, Honda, Cundinamarca (Fig. 34).
In the Amazon area, a Ticuna Indian legend
attributes four young owls with lifting a small dim sun to
a great height where it was converted into a powerful light.
It's possible that the four owls may refer to the helical
rising of a stellar constellation. At El Fraile, San Francisco,
Cundinamarca a petroglyph of a bird lifting a sun may represent
a similar legend (mentioned further in this study) in the
Panche/Muisca zone where blackbirds created the first light.
Felines such as the jaguar (felis onca),
puma (felis concolor) and tigrillo have been identified
in both petroglyphs and pictographs in Colombia. Natives sometimes
use the word "tiger" and "jaguar" interchangeably.
In Chiribiquete, Amazonas many felines such as jaguars are
depicted in red pictographs with vertical lines, horizontal
dashes, circles, circles with dots in the center, or squares
with dots in the center (Fig. 35).
Jaguars are very important to shamans since
they are believed to be the only animals who dominate the
earth, water and sky, however their primary function is to
guard the jungle. Much Amazonian mythology revolves around
the jaguar and his creation by the sun to be the sun's principal
representative on earth. It is also a symbol of sexual strength
and represents the fecundity of the universe. All Amazonian
shamans believe they can call and change themselves into jaguars.
The Desana and Guahibo use a large dose of snuff to effect
this transformation. Others use singing spells, put on jaguar
ornaments, teeth and skins for the same purpose. Some shamans
believe they are permanently transformed into a jaguar when
they die. Chiribiquete representations of the jaguar may symbolize
the protective power of the jaguar and its role as regenerator
of animal life as well as representing the transformed shaman
The jaguar in petroglyph form is found at
the Batero, Caldas site as a feline with vertical lines (Fig.
36). The Jaibaná (shaman) in the Embera-Chami
culture is very closely associated with the jaguar. They believe
that the first men lived inside trees with jaguars
who protected the men. After death the shaman is believed to be
converted into a mythical being with the body of a man and
the head and claws of a jaguar.
An Umbra myth associates the jaguar with
the moon. During nights with moonlight a beautiful young woman
continuously dreamed of being courted by a special young man.
Her friends told her to paint her hands with a black dye.
When the young man came and had sexual relations with her
during a dark night, her hands streaked his back with the
dye. The next morning when everyone left to work, she saw
that the man was her brother, so she ran the Cauca River and
drown herself. The brother, when he saw he was painted with
stripes like a feline, realized what he had done and ran after
her. The moon appeared painted after this incident, then disappeared,
and the brother was converted into a wolf (Gelemur 132).
A careful study of Umbra cosmology may show
a relationship between the wolf and a certain star or constellation,
and the jaguar and the moon. This jaguar petroglyph could
very well have been engraved as a reminder of the Umbra myth
as well as indicating a sacred place where a shaman went into
a trance to transform himself into a jaguar.
SUN AND MOON
A pictograph at Suacha (Sua=sun; Cha=son),
Cundinamarca, may represent the Muisca sun god Sua or an important
Muisca chief or shaman since Muisca chiefs believed they were
the sons of the sun, (Fig. 37a). This shaman or chief costumed
as an eagle, vulture or condor may represent something similar
to the Mesoamerican concept of a "sun" vulture sending
sacrificial offerings to the awaiting sun. Huitoto Indians
of the Colombian Amazon wore a headdress resembling the Suacha
pictograph for the "pulling of the hairs" puberty
ceremony for girls. The moon goddess Chia may be portrayed
next to the Suacha sun figure as an anthropomorph with a circle
for the head. A dark circle next to a series of vertical lines
may represent a lunar cycle at Altania, Subachoque, Cundinamarca
Petroglyphs representing the sun are found
in varying styles at sites such as: Santandercito, Cundinamarca
(Fig.39), Media Luna, Nilo, counterclockwise spiral (starting
from the middle)
Cundinamarca (Figs. 40, 45 and 46), La Herrada, Quimbaya Baja
region of Caldas and Covadonga, Cesar. In places like Covadonga,
the ceremonial sun mask may have been represented in rock
art. The actual mask uses feathers to represent the rays of
the sun (Rupestre 3 pg 23). The Kaggaba Indians of this region
are prohibited by tradition to look at the sunrise at certain
times of the year. Anyone looking at the sunrise is transformed
into a petroglyph. Emblems of J'ui (the sun) engraved on rocks
in this area may remind tribal members of this prohibition
(Fig. 41). The La Herrada site is said to contain a petroglyph
group of the sun in an annual eclipse with the moon next to
it (Fig. 42) (Gelemur 151). A depiction of the moon (Jedeko)
over the head of a mythological being is supposedly engraved
at La Herrada (Fig. 43) and the moon in four different phases
as mentioned previously at Currucutao, Caldas (Fig. 31) (Gelemur
151, 163, and 125).
At Sachica, Boyaca the sun may have been
depicted in pictograph form as three concentric circles alone
or with spiked rays. A painted Muisca cloth from Belen, Boyaca
shows the sun as two concentric circles with spiked rays (Fig.
37b). In many cultures, portrayal of a head with emanating
rays (head of the sun) has been confirmed to represent a spirit
or a man "enlightened" from on high, such as a shaman
with special knowledge (Mallery 2:474).
Contemporary Yagua shamans of the Colombian
Amazon draw the moon as a shaded-in circle while the sun is
represented as a shaded-in circle with short lines extending
outward (Fig. 44).
Many native cultures believe that the first
men were able to communicate with the celestial world and
it's inhabitants by climbing a ladder to the sky. Various
myths describe how angered gods destroyed this ladder. Privileged
shamans in trance state communicate with the upper world by
being carried by bird spirit helpers or themselves being transformed
into birds. At other times they climb trees, or notched single
or double log ladders to the sky world. Some shamans shoot
arrows into the sky to form ladders to allow a dead person's
trapped soul to travel from the sun to join dead kinfolk in
the underworld (Vitebsky 17).
These different types of ladders may have been portrayed in rock
art at the following sites in Colombia: Cachipay (Fig. 47),
Suacha (Fig. 38), Media Luna (Fig. 48), and Bojacá
Nearly all religions believe in parallel
words. The number of worlds and the location of the home of
gods and souls of the dead varies with each culture, but generally
there is one world (the earth) where humans live, one world
(sky) where the gods live, and one world (underworld) where
the dead live. Tribal origin myths may also include the concept
of "emergence" from one world to other. One common
element in all of these cultures and religions is "communication
between worlds." This communication may be symbolized
as a ladder as mentioned above, a spiral or a dumbbell shape.
DUMBBELL: The dumbbell or barbell
motif is seen frequently in the southwest USA and south into
Mexico, where it has been interpreted as speech (a line) between
two persons (2 circles) or as a symbol pointing to hidden
rock art panels (Fig. 50), and also as the sun moving from
solstice to solstice (Fig. 51). In Colombia this motif is
encountered as a petroglyph in places such as El Fraile, San
Francisco (Fig. 52), and at the Mataven River, Orinoco (Fig.
53). This symbol may represent any of a variety of ideas relating
to communication or movement from one place to another, such
as: two people talking, a shaman moving from one world to
another, the sun moving from one solstice to another; or a
road from one village to another. The general idea, however,
is communication via thought, speech or movement from one
place to another. It may represent the shaman visiting a parallel
world in some cases.
SPIRAL: We have suggested some possible
interpretations for the spiral earlier in this paper. The
spiral is used in southwest USA at times to symbolize the
emergence of man onto the earth from another parallel world.
In Colombia the spiral appears to be more closely related
to shamanic trance-induced journeys. When there is only one
spiral motif on a rock, it may indicate a direction (up or
down) to be taken to find water, or an important site nearby.
indicates "going up" like an eagle or condor gaining
altitude, while a clockwise spiral indicates descent or going
down (Martineau 19). At sites associated with shamanic trance
journeys, the direction of the spiral might indicate whether
he was travelling to the sky world or into the underworld.
OPPOSING TRIANGLES: Muisca pictograph
and petroglyph sites occasionally include a motif composed
of two opposing triangles, apex to apex (Figs. 57, 58, 59a,
60). Sometimes these figures include two eyes and a mouth,
making it logical to assume they are anthropomorphic figures
(Fig. 55). Similar North American Indian pictographs have
been interpreted by native speakers as "headless bodies."(Fig.
54) In Colombia they are more like "bodiless heads."
Some options for interpretation include:
1. A shaman visiting the sky world and the underworld.
2. The male and female aspects.
3. The sky god above and the earth god below.
4. Father sun and mother earth.
5. A couple mating. This interpretation stems from the concept
of the sun's rays (male) fertilizing the earth (female). Another
way this concept may be symbolized is merging two triangles
to form a six-pointed "star of David" as seen in
Canica Baja, Subachoque, Cundinamarca (Fig. 56a). A six-pointed
star was found on a sun disk in Yucatan. This symbol represented
the rays of the sun to the Maya and Aztec cultures.
6. A stellar constellation, possibly Pisces.
7. Aca, the number 9. In the Muisca Chibcha
language, the number 9 is formed using opposing triangles
representing a frog whose tail is beginning to form another
tail. It is also the symbol of the moon. Croaking frogs announce
the coming of rain to the Muiscas and signal the time to begin
planting crops.(Fig. 58).
7. A symbol of war. Opposing arrowheads in North American
rock art many times
represent war. The association of this motif with faces in Colombia
weakens support for this interpretation, but doesn't discount
8. Symbol for the double gourd lime container (poporo).(
Fig. 59b.)This container is used by the Kogi Indians of the
Sierra Nevada, Magdalena region to store lime made from ground
marine conch shells. Lime is used in conjunction with coca
chewing (mambeando). Sexual and mythological associations
have been described by investigators of the Kogi culture.
Mexican Huichol Indians use the same symbol for a double water
gourd (Fig. 60). The gourd is used by the hikuli (peyote)
seekers on their journey as drinking vessels, as well as to
hold the sacred water they take home with them (Fig. 61).
CONCEPT OF TIME: In pictographs, at Altania Alta,
Subachoque, 27 vertical lines next to a dark circle, may be
day markers counting the number of days the moon is visible
in one lunar cycle (Fig. 38). As petroglyphs, at Media Luna,
Nilo, one horizontal line of seven circles joined by one horizontal
line across the diameters, may symbolize a seven day lunar
phase (Fig. 62).
ANIMALS: Portrayals of animals are found in both pictographs
and petroglyphs in Colombia. A few of the many animals depicted
in Colombia follow:
Birds are realistically portrayed in many areas such
as the Orinoco where long beaked petroglyphs resemble the
North American Thunderbird (Figs. 63 and 64). At the Pacific
Ocean island of Gorgona there is one petroglyph of a crested
bird (Fig. 65). In the Panche area of San Francisco, Cundinamarca
we find a bird rising from a circle with a dot in the center.
The bird glyph of San Francisco (Fig. 66) may represent not
Muisca cultural spillage over the border in the form of a bird
bringing the first light to humans. Chiminigagua was the god
who first gave light to the earth by sending many large black
birds to all points of the sky breathing light into the primeval
Birds associated with spirals at the Piedra del Sacrificio
mentioned above probably represent spirit or protector animals
of a particular shaman.
Frogs or toads are believed by many Colombian anthropologists
to have been depicted symbolically as red diamond shape pictographs
in the Muisca area (Figs 80-83). A few are realistically portrayed
as petroglyphs (Figs. 67, 68). This rhomboid may represent
the distinctive wide body shape of the Bufonidae frog
or the Atelopus with its sharply pointed nose. Realistic
gold frog votive artifacts of the venomous Atelopus and
wide-bodied Bufonidae have been found in the Muisca
zone indicating a sacred interest in this animal. Cochranella
frogs (both terrestrial and amphibious stages) have been
found engraved on stone matrices used to make beaten gold
adornments, and Centrolenido frogs are seen as Muisca
ceramic bowl decorations, especially the large species Centrolene
Frogs in some Chibcha language family groups (Kogi and Muisca)
are feminine, and are closely associated with lakes and rain.
This association of frogs and water is still seen today in
the Colombian capital. The frog symbol is the official symbol
of the Bogota Water Company (Acueducto de Bogota) and is seen
on the metal lid covering the water meter at every house.
The Kogi believe small black frogs are daughters of the lakes.
When these frogs begin to call for water, the tribe must sing
to the mother of the
rain to bring showers. The beginning of the rainy season is said
to be announced by croaking frogs. The author has personally
heard the first seasonal croaking of the small green Bogota
savanna frog anticipating the first rainfall of the wet season
by twelve hours. A Kogi origin myth relates that the Sun's
first woman was a toad who was banished for being unfaithful.
The Bufo Marinus is a generic frog symbol for that
area and continues today to represent a negative, dangerous
aspect of the femenine sex to the Kogi.
Fertility, prosperity and crop abundance are also associated
with frogs by country folk living in the Muisca territory
today. Diamond shaped symbols were, and still are painted
to bring rain, good luck and abundant crops. Today these symbols
are painted on house fronts just as their ancestors painted
them on rock faces (Figs. 69 and 70). There is some indication
that pictograph portrayals of frogs in different positions
may symbolize different moon phases (Barradas 1941:53). Palm
fronds woven into a single or double diamond shapes are placed
in planted fields in Muisca territory on Palm Sunday to protect
crops, calm storms and even to ease the pain of childbirth
(Fig. 71). One diamond placed on top of another diamond is
the origin of the Chibcha word aca (meaning number
9) and represents the wet season symbolized by one frog on
top of another. The wet season is when frogs reproduce and
is also the time to plant crops. The symbol for Cujupcua,
the number 7, is somewhat similar to the symbol for number
9. Cujupcua symbolizes two ears or two basket handles
associated with a harvest. Variations of this symbol only
the ruling class was allowed to eat deer meat. Rabbits, curi
and birds were
may have been painted as pictographs at Suacha, Facatativa and
Subachoque, Cundinamarca (Figs. 57a., b., c.). Miguel Triana,
a pioneer Colombian rock art investigator, believed that most
diamond shapes were frog depictions (Fig. 72). Ticuna Indians
of the Amazon paint the diamond shape on wooden buildings
for good luck and also as a basket decoration, but their literal
translation of the symbol is a vulva (Figs. 73 and 74). Kogis
associate the open mouth of a frog with the vulva. In modern
day handsign language the word "vagina" is signed
by touching the right index finger to the left index finger
and the right thumb to the right thumb (Fig. 75). A diamond
within a diamond may indicate pregnancy and the associated
nine lines on one pictograph (Fig. 83) may indicate a nine
month gestation period.
Interpretations mentioned above differ from the North American
Indian meaning of the diamond symbol which means peace. The
distribution and context of the North American symbols for
war (two triangles joined apex to apex)(Fig. 56b) and peace
(diamond shape)(Fig. 76) in Muisca territory should be closely
studied before completely eliminating this possible interpretation,
since both motifs are found frequently and were obviously
very important to the culture who painted them. Note the similarity
of Figure 56b to 77, and the similarity of Figure 76 to Figures
78 and 79.
A gold Tairona pectoral with spirals and a frog on an anthropomorphic
figure may represent a shaman's spirit helper and aid in interpretation
of rock art in that area (Fig. 84).
Lizards are difficult to separate from humans and
acuatic frogs with tails in
Colombian rock art petroglyphs. A shaman with raised arms is
easily confused with a lizard or an acuatic frog with extended
legs. One clue to identification is the number of fingers
on the figure and the representation of a tail or penis (Figs.
85, 86, 87 and 88). Usually the petroglyph form has three
toes or fingers, but other times no fingers or toes are shown.
In Tenjo, Cundinamarca, a rare two color pictograph of a red
head over a yellow-orge lizard may indicate that the artist
was attempting to show a shaman transformed into an animal
(Figs. 89 and 90). Five fingered figures more obviously indicate
the intention to depict a human or a simian (Fig. 87).
Lizards and frogs, in the Muisca culture, may have been
spirit helpers or messengers for shamans, able to enter holes
in the earth and rocks and descend to bring back answers to
the shamans' prayers to underworld gods. Vaupes Indians believed
a small tree lizard (Plica plica L.) represented the
Master of the Animals and was assigned a very special phallic
symbolism since this lizard has a forked, anchor-shaped hemipenis,
which facilitates prolonged coitus. In this context the lizard
symbolizes the generative forces of nature. Tairona gold objects
and Kogi Indian dancers wear these anchor-shaped Tairona pendants
during a dance honoring this lizard. The "spread-eagled"
lizard is a common petroglyph found in many zones of Colombia.
The anchor shape is found as a petroglyph in Aipe, Huila (insert
Aipe rock anchor).
Deer (Odocoileus virginianus and Mazama sp.) were
abundant in the Muisca territory when the Spanish arrived.
This is probably because of a conservation law in effect at
on the protected list. A very rare realistic red pictograph of
a hunter possibly holding an atlatl, deer and possibly a shaman
in a hallucinogenic trip to the land of the master of the
animals to ask for abundant game, is seen at a site in Mongua,
Boyaca (Fig. 91). Representations of deer on gold votive objects
are also scarce, even though deer meat and bones were very
important to the Muiscas. Bones were used to make tools for
weaving and working hides. Hides were used as doors to the
chiefs' huts. When Muiscas died, their souls went to the cold
paramo region or turned into bears or deer. Kogi myths associate
the deer to the history of coca. The Tunebo, another Chibcha
speaking tribe, believe that when a deer dies, its soul goes
into the hills and changes into a human. One gold atlatl with
a deer on it suggests that the atlatl was used as a weapon
to hunt this animal.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Interpretation of Colombian motifs at the 100% confidence
level is impossible, but by looking at each rock art panel,
studying the context of one motif with another, and using
meanings from other indigenous cultures, it is possible to
reach some tentative conclusions. Suggested meanings included
in this paper were based on interpretations from Colombian
and other Mesoamerican native cultures and the interpretation
of contemporary tribal chiefs who may have inherited knowledge
passed down from their ancestors . Hopefully the interpretations
here, based on the accumulation of over twenty years of studying
Colombian rock art in conjunction with the collaboration of
other GIPRI rock art investigators will provide the basis
further investigation into the original meaning of pictographs
and petroglyphs found in nearly every department in Colombia.
LIST OF REFERENCES CITED AND
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING
Aveni, Anthony F. 1980. Skywatchers of
Ancient Mexico. University of Texas Press. Austin.
Botiva Contreras, Alvaro. 2000. Arte
Rupestre en Cundinamarca. Gobernación de Cundinamarca.
Castano-Uribe, Carlos. 1998. Chiribiquete:
La Peregrinacion de los Jaguares. Ministerio del Medio
Cates Jr., John M. 1974. El Dorado: The
Gold of Ancient Colombia. The Center For Inter-American
Relations. New York.
Cirlot, J.E. 1983. A Dictionary of Symbols.
Philosophical Library. New York.
Conway, Thor and Julie. 1990. Spirits
On Stone: The Agawa Pictographs. Heritage Discoveries.
San Luis Obispo.
Dubelaar, Cornelius N. 1986. The Petroglyphs
in the Guianas and Adjacent Areas of Brazil and Venezuela:
An Inventory. Institute of Archaeology. Los Angeles.
Gelemur de Rendon, Anielka and Guillermo
Rendon Garcia. 1998. Samoga: Enigma y Desciframiento.
Centro Editorial Universidad de Caldas. Manizales.
Halifax, Joan. 1982. Shaman: The Wounded
Healer. Thames and Hudson Ltd. London.
Hudson, Travis and Ernest Underhay. 1978.
Crystals in the Sky: An Intellectual Odyssey Involving
Chumash Astronomy, Cosmology and Rock Art. Ballena Press.
Hudson, Travis and Georgia Lee. 1984. Function
and Symbolism in Chumash Rock Art. In Journal of New
World Archaeology 6(3).
Figure 17. Cates page 126.
Figure 18. Foto by author.
Iriarte, Alfredo. 1992. Mitos Muiscas. Amazonas Editores.
Labbe, Armand J. 1992. Religion, Art,
And Iconography: Man And Cosmos In Prehispanic Mesoamerica.
Bowers Museum Foundation. Santa Ana.
Lloreda, Diana. 1992. Los Muiscas: Pasos
Perdidos. Editorial Nomos. Bogota. 1992.
Mallery, Garrick. 1972. Picture-Writing
of the American Indians. Vols 1 & 2. Dover Publications,
Inc. New York.
Marriner, Harry Andrew. 1998. Rock Artists
and Skywatchers in Ancient Colombia. Privately Published.
Martineau, LaVan. 1987. The Rocks Begin
to Speak. KC Publications. Las Vegas.
Medicine Hawk and Grey Cat. 1990. American
Indian Ceremonies. Inner Light Publications. New Brunswick.
Moore, Hyatt. 1991. The Alphabet Makers.
Summer Institute of Linguistics. Huntington Beach.
Munoz C., Guillermo, ed. 1995. Rupestre:
Arte Rupestre en Colombia. Año 1, Numero 1. GIPRI.
Munoz C., Guillermo, ed. 1998. Rupestre:
Arte Rupestre en Colombia. Año 2, Numero 2. GIPRI.
Munoz C., Guillermo, ed. 2000. Rupestre:
Arte Rupestre en Colombia. Año 3, Numero 3.
Patterson, Alex. 1992. A Field Guide
to Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest. Johnson
Perez de Barradas, Jose. 1941. El Arte
Rupestre En Colombia. Instituto Bernardin De Sahagun.
Serie A-No. 1. Madrid.
Preuss, K. Th. 1974. Arte Monumental
Prehistorico. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Bogota.
Purce, Jill. 1987. The Mystic Spiral:
Journey of the Soul. Thames and Hudson, Inc. New York.
Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. 1988. Goldwork
and Shamanism. Compania
Litografica Nacional S.A.-Editorial Colina. Medellin.
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Rouillard, Patrick. 1987. San Agustin.
Editorial Colina. Medellin.
Schultes, Richard Evans and Albert Hofmann.
1979. Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic
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Sotomayor, Maria Lucia and Maria Victoria
Uribe. 1987. Estatuaria Del Macizo Colombiano. Imprenta
Nacional de Colombia. Bogota.
Tompkins, William. 1929. Universal Indian
Sign Language. Frye and Smith. San Diego.
Triana, Miguel. 1922. La Civilizacion
Chibcha. Escuela Tipografia Salesiana. Bogota.
Vitebsky, Piers. 1995. The Shaman.
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Ward, J.S.M. 1969. Secret Sign Languages:
The Sign Language of the Mysteries. Land's End Press.
ILLUSTRATIONS AND PHOTOS
Figure 1. Preuss foto No. 21.
Figure 2. Sotomayor Plate No. 4.
Figure 3. Sotomayor Plate No. 39.
Figure 4. Vitebsky page 24.
Figure 5. Foto by author.
Figure 6. Gipri Rupestre 3:79.
Figure 7. Botiva page 81.
Figure 8. Foto by author.
Figure 9. Foto by author.
Figure 10. Gelemur page 57.
Figure 11. Gelemur page 66.
Figure 12. Gelemur page 85.
Figure 13. Botiva page 195.
Figure 14. Gelemur page 75.
Figure 15. Gelemur page 75.
Figure 16. The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
(1899) page 472.
Figure 19. Gipri Rupestre 1:36.
Figure 20. Botiva .
Figure 21. Mitos Muiscas page 19.
Figure 22. Mallery Vol. 2, page 604.
Figure 23. Foto by author. Muisca ceramic
"mucura" water jug.
Figure 24. Foto by author. Caribbean marine
Figure 25. Gelemur page 95.
Figure 26. Gelemur page 95.
Figure 27. Drawing by author.
Figure 28. Drawing by author.
Figure 29. Drawing by author.
Figure 30. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 31. Gelemur page 125.
Figure 32. Gelemur page 125.
Figure 33. Foto by author.
Figure 34. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 35. Castano-Uribe page 47, figure
Figure 36. Gelemur page 133.
Figure 37. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 38. Drawing by author.
Figure 39. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 40. Foto by author.
Figure 41. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 42. Gelemur page 151.
Figure 43. Gelemur page 163.
Figure 44. Vitebsky page 16.
Figure 45. Foto by author.
Figure 46. Foto by author.
Figure 47. Gipri archives, Bogota. Emboss
Figure 48. Foto by author.
Figure 49. Drawing by author.
Figure 50. Martineau page 28.
Figure 51. Patterson page 86.
Figure 52. Foto by author.
Figure 53. Foto by author.
Figure 54. Tompkins page 72.
Figure 55. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 56. Foto and drawing by author.
Figure 57. Duquesne in Lloreda page 49.
Figure 58. Duquesne in Lloreda page 49.
Figure 59a. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 59b. Foto by author.
Figure 60. Patterson page 206.
Figure 61. Patterson page 207.
Figure 62. Foto by author.
Figure 63. Foto by author.
Figure 64. Drawing by author.
Figure 65. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 66. Drawing by author.
Figure 67. Foto by author.
Figure 68. Gipri files, Bogota.
Figure 69. Drawing by author.
Figure 70. Foto by author. Barrio San Marcos,
Figure 71. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 72. Triana page 212.
Figure 73. Foto by author.
Figure 74. Foto by author. Amatura, Amazon
Figure 75. Foto by author.
Figure 76. Martineau page 4.
Figure 77. Drawing by author.
Figure 78. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 79. Foto by author.
Figure 80. Triana page 188.
Figure 81. Drawing by author.
Figure 82. Drawing by author.
Figure 83. Drawing by author.
Figure 84. Reichel-Dolmatoff page 143.
Figure 85. Foto by author.
Figure 86. Drawing by author.
Figure 87. Gipri archives, Bogota. Emboss
Figure 88. Gipri archives, Bogota.
Figure 89. Drawing by author.
Figure 90. Foto by author.
Figure 91. Gipri archives, Bogota.