Story Behind The Painting: Tall Tale

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Tall Tale represents an elephant hunt on Bundoran in upper Lotheni. (Detail)

This depiction is found in the Natal open grassland in South Africa and even though this would not normally be a natural habitat for elephants, it is presumed that “continual hunting sometimes drives animals to an unnatural environment”.

This painting is part of a very dramatic scene. Paint on the rocks shows eleven small and naked hunters surrounding a large bull elephant (People of the Elands, P. Vinnicombe p. 12). The elephant is not included in this painting. It is a chaotic scene where some of the hunters are fleeing, while others are using camouflage tactics. Still others are attacking from the rear carrying sticks and curved bows. A few hunters are surveying the scene from above from what may have been a pit, perhaps directing the few who are landing spears behind the elephant’s head.

After the take down of the animal, they have recorded it on stone. An elephant’s life is a difficult one!