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While the Men were Hunting

Drawn 1981/11/3 by Chris Wayan

Digging through a box of your old art is like digging down through the strata on the floor of a cave in Neanderthal country--layers on layers. Here's an old drawing I'd quite forgotten, from decades ago. Despite its prehistoricity, its premise still seems likely to me:

For twenty thousand years, the men were all out hunting. It was the women who had the time and opportunity to explore the cave-depths, and also to know to the properties of plant dyes and mineral paints. So the famous cave paintings were most likely done by women.

Woman paints elk on the wall of a cave while girl sits and watches. Dog, girl and painter are all splotched and daubed with ochre. Click to enlarge.
Hmm. I spot an anachronism--those little ghostlike figures with spreading hands are Hattifatteners, strange lightning-fed beings imagined by Tove Jansson in her Moomintroll books. They haven't, so far as I know, been found on cave walls.

It sounds strange now, but remember--back in the savage 1980s, when this was drawn, its premise that the cave-artists might be women was actually controversial! As was the idea women could do much of anything.

Some Ice Ages do melt in the blink of an eye.

Cave girl, primordial painter, splotched and daubed with ochre, chewing a reed.
Why'd I draw it? Why, I was tryin' the same old cave magic the Stone Age artists did. Draw your wish to summon it! The cave artists prayed (via painting) for a fertile land full of edible critters; I prayed (via painting) for a soulmate, a primordial Artist-Shaman Girl who shares my passions.

Technique: a tiny ink drawing at work, blown up huge on the office Xerox machine after hours, tinted later with Sanford's erasable crayons

LISTS AND LINKS: time and time-travel - caves - artists and the arts - in the studio - creative process - gender - hunting - prayers and wishes - babes and hunks - ink drawings - crayon and pastel - a primordial Artist-Shaman Girl who shares my passions: Emily

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