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The more common positive print was often made with pigment applied to the hand and transferred to the rock.
What rock art means and why the ancients practiced it has been a bane of contention amongst scholars since the phenomena started to be studied.
Crayons and animal hair brushes have been excavated in caves with paintings.
Exceedingly fine lines evidence the production of excellent brushes.
There are some 250 sites which are located in the municipality of Mulege within the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in the state of Baja California Sur in Northern Mexico.
Motifs include human figures, weapons, and animal species such as rabbit, puma, lynx, deer, wild goat/sheep, whale, turtle, tuna, sardine, octopus, eagle, and pelican; there are also abstract elements of various forms.
The shaman would retreat into the darkness of the caves, enter into a trance state and then paint images of their visions, perhaps with some notion of drawing power out of the cave walls themselves.
This goes some way toward explaining the remoteness of some of the paintings (which often occur in deep or small caves) and the variety of subject matter (from prey animals to predators and human hand-prints). Dale Guthrie has studied not only the most artistic and publicized paintings but also a variety of lower quality art and figurines, and he identifies a wide range of skill and ages among the artists.
The simplest pictographs are wet clay finger drawings and charcoal drawings.
To produce crayons or paints first the minerals had to be finely ground and combined with binding materials.
Various conjectures have been made as to the meaning these paintings had to the people who made them.
Prehistoric men may have painted animals to "catch" their soul or spirit in order to hunt them more easily, or the paintings may represent an animistic vision and homage to surrounding nature, or they may be the result of a basic need of expression that is innate to human beings, or they may be recordings of the life experiences of the artists and related stories from the members of their circle.
Significant early cave paintings have also been found in Kakadu National Park in Australia.