Kalliopiirrosalueen mystiset kalliomaalaukset

Translated title of the contribution: MYSTERIOUS ROCK PAINTINGS ON A ROCK ENGRAVING SITE

Research output: Artistic and non-textual formExhibitionSolo art production


The breath-taking Driekopseiland rock engraving site is situated in the bed of the Riet river, approximately a hundred kilometres to south-west from the diamond town Kimberley. There are almost 3600 engravings on the site, of which over 90 per cent are geometrical shapes.

According to archaeologist David Morris, the engravings were possibly made by people belonging to Khoe-San spectrum. The site has a relation to their horizontally structured cosmology. The engravings have possibly been be made in rituals connected to rainmaking and (especially females’) puberty ceremonials.

The site was declared in 1944 as National Monument of South-Africa. Despite of this, is threatened by agriculture and alien vegetation, as well as diamond mining and recreation activities. Part of the area is still private property, which complicates its protection.

In January 2019, photographer-researcher Seija Ulkuniemi visited the unique site with her expedition and a local guide. Taking a closer look at the rock engravings and interpreting them, she found for her surprise that there were also rock paintings in the area.
The paintings were white, situated especially on the downstream, western part of the area.

With her camera Ulkuniemi documented these shapes which meaning is yet unknown. Who has made them, when, and why? Are they scribbles or art? Have they got a message? In the list of works Ulkuniemi suggests possible interpretations for the paintings – the viewers are welcome to make their own.

Ulkuniemi thanks the Faculty of Art and Design of the University of Lapland for the opportunity to participate in the PARTY-project. It offered a chance to study the Driekopseiland rock engraving site.
Original languageFinnish
Place of PublicationGalleria Lovisa, Lay, Rovaniemi
PublisherGalleria Lovisa, Lapin yliopisto
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019
MoEC publication typeF1 Published independent work of art
EventKALLIOPIIRROSALUEEN MYSTISET KALLIOMAALAUKSET - Galleria Lovisa, Lapin yliopisto, Rovaniemi, Finland
Duration: 1 Sept 201926 Sept 2019


  • rock engraving
  • South-Africa
  • rock painting

Field of science

  • History and archaeology


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