I recently received a most interesting book entitled “Arte Rupestre en Jalisco” (Rock Art in Jalisco) by archaeologist Joseph Mountjoy, which was kindly given to me by the author himself after I asked him one too many questions about petroglyphs. Joe suggested I might find many of the answers I sought in the pages of this richly illustrated, 48-page book (all in Spanish) and I certainly did.
If anyone ought to know rock art, it’s Mountjoy, who registered his first pintura rupestre (rock painting) in 1964 and has analyzed some 20,000 glyphs since then. To fully appreciate his insights, you really ought to visit the fascinating museum he has set up in the Casa de Cultura in Mascota (140 kilometers west of Guadalajara), where you will find a whole room dedicated to petroglyphs, a project carried out in collaboration with National Geographic Magazine. Google Mascota Museum for more information.
Between now and your visit to Mascota, here are a few insights I gleaned while reading “Arte Rupestre en Jalisco.”
The great majority of rock-art designs, says Mountjoy, are related to ceremonies aimed at obtaining rain from the sun god for the benefit of those plants and animals that ancient peoples depended on for their sustenance. The ceremonies were related to that critical transition from dry to rainy season and the drawings were destined for a god rather than for fellow human beings.
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