A pictorial genealogy: the rainmaking group from Sehonghong Shelter


  • J. Wintjes University of the Witwatersrand


The rainmaking group from Sehonghong Shelter (Lesotho) is one of the most publicized and iconic groups of hunter-gatherer rock paintings from the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains of southern Africa. A variety of manual copies that are representative of the history of rock art copies in the region are sorted into two lineages. The first comprises a family of copies that descend from a freehand sketch created by Joseph Orpen in 1873. The second originated with a tracing made by Patricia Vinnicombe in 1971. This genealogical approach reveals how the scene has been isolated from its context, reproduced in a diagrammatic form and studied in a primarily non-pictorial way. Making use of a wider selection of pictorial records pertaining to Sehonghong, the rainmaking group is relocated within the rock shelter, illustrating how digital restoration can potentially restore lost visual qualities of the original. Reconciling pre-digital and digital modes of imaging in this way can enable us to capture the instability and specificity of the original rock painting.



How to Cite

Wintjes, J. (2011). A pictorial genealogy: the rainmaking group from Sehonghong Shelter. Southern African Humanities, 23, 17–54. Retrieved from https://sahumanities.org/index.php/sah/article/view/332