Southwest Petroglyphs

These modern cave paintings are inspired by the petroglyphs of the ancient Anasazi people, forebears of the Hopi, Zuni and Havasupai people. They lived in what is today called the United States Four Corners region: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

Rock art infused with mysterious symbolism can be found on mountainside panels, rocky outcrops and caves all through this area, particularly around the V-Bar-V petroglyph site, Newspaper Rock, Moab Area Rock Art Sites, and Petroglyph National Monument. The Great Basin of Nevada and California are also home to a great deal of petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs on Sacred Stones

In the American Southwest, petroglyphs were mostly made by carving or pecking on stone. In other places, pictographs were painted on the rock. Rock artists often chose particular sacred areas or places of power to create their art.

The rock art symbols had many meanings. A spiral could represent water or migration routes. Dots, diamonds, sunbursts, meandering lines could all denote plants and insects. Some cave art shows recognizable forms such as weapons, people, and animals. We can guess at the meaning of these mysterious works of art. The true key to these ancient symbols is lost to the passage of time.

  • The Quest

    The thunderbird is of prime importance in this painting. The symbol itself conveys ideas such as indomitable spirit (as it rises from the ashes), transformation and power. The thunderbird...

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  • Mystic Song

    Mystic Song is about the well-known Kokopelli flute player deity. In many Southwestern Native American cultures this figure, often depicted as a kachina doll, is thought to have control...

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  • Ancient Knowledge

    The painting consists of patterned body anthromorphs (attribution of human characteristics to non-living things, phenomena, spirits, or deities) along the seam line of the paper. Anthropomorphism is strongly associated...

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  • Remnants

    The main theme of this petroglyph has to do with life and death. Two headed animals often represent the birthing process. One head is usually drawn smaller than the...

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