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The White Lady

This exceptionally detailed painting comes from the Brandberg in Namibia. Even though it is still called 'The White Lady' it has been known for many years that the painting in actual fact depicts a male figure. Clues to this include the very obvious fact that he carries a bow and various arrows in his hand, objects only used by men the hunters, as well as the fact the he has a penis (not visible in this reproduction due to fading). He also carries a ritualistic object in his hand, which some have described as a cup of some sort, but it is most likely a fly-whisk. Again the word 'fly-whisk' is deceiving in terms of usage. A fly-whisk is in actual fact used for certain rituals, such as during a trance-dance, and is made from the tail of an animal, usually a wildebeest but it can also be another animal's tail, such as a gemsbok. The white on the lower half of the body probably signifies initiation, as this colour is often used by different tribes in Africa to represent this process of transition.

It could also represent potency, due to the fact that in bushmen rock art, white is reserved for special occasions and significant spiritual symbolism. Note also the very detailed and elaborate beadwork worn around the wrists, top of the arms, chest, waist and knees.

Made in South Africa

written by Gary Trower

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