Heritage, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1985 Page: 11
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Paintings cover the entire wall and part of the ceiling of Panther Cave, reaching more than twelve feet above
the floor. The designs at each end of the shelter have been exposed to the sun and blowing rain and are very
dim, but under protected parts of the shelter the color is still remarkably bright. A seep spring in the ceiling
of Panther Cave destroyed a number of paintings. In the pictograph shown here, many areas have been
overpainted, but most of the designs are quite clear and can easily be separated from the overlapping
pictures. Watercolor by Forrest Kirkland, copied July 10, 1937, courtesy of the Texas Memorial Museum.
(Acc. No. 2261-24)
TEXAS ROCK ART:
SIXTY YEARS OF PRESERVATON
by C. Andrew Causey
A heat-dazed hiker will find rest and relief
from the blazing sun in the alcoves and
caves that dot the river valley cliffs of
Texas. These shelters often hold more for
the hiker than respite from the weather,
however. In about forty-four counties in
the western half of Texas, certain alcoves,
caves and rocky outcrops are illuminated
with the artistic legacy of ancient Indian
cultures. The depictions of humans and
human-like forms, animals and geometric
shapes, painted in reds, white, yellow and
black, are splashed across the rock surfaces
at all angles, overlapping each other
(Fig. 1) or standing intensely isolated.
Remains of ancient Indian painting in
Texas are found from the trans-Pecos to
the Edwards Plateau, from the high plains
of the Panhandle to El Paso, at nearly 200
sites. Precise dates for the paintings are
difficult to ascertain. Although some are
associated with datable habitation sites,
there is nothing inherent in the paintings'
constitution to provide specific ages. Despite
this, scholars have found that the
paintings seem to group themselves into
four styles, the earliest of which may be
associated with the Archaic Period (approx.
700 B.C.-A.D. 500). This early
style is termed "Lower Pecos" and is
characterized at many sites by representations
of elongated box-like Figures called
"shamen" by scholars (Fig. 1), and by a
proliferation and variety of animal forms
(Fig. 2). Subsequent styles are termed
Red Linear, whose name is self-descriptive,
and Red Monochrome, defined by
the presence of life-like figures in frontal
poses holding bow and arrow (Fig. 3).
Although the origin and time span of the
Texas rock art tradition is unclear, it is
known that the art was still being produced
at the time the Spaniards arrived, for
HERITAGE * Fall 1985
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1985, periodical, November 1, 1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45445/m1/11/?rotate=90: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.