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Agro-pastoral rituals and shaman dances of Dahongyan rock painting, Guizhou, Southwestern China, new investigations

Dambricourt-Malassé, Anne, Cao, Bo, You, QianSheng, Zhang, Pu
Quaternary international 2019 v.507 pp. 43-52
archaeology, minorities (people), pastoralism, research programs, rice, traditions, China, France
Guizhou was for a long time the wildest and the most enclave province of South China, its ethnographic, historical, archaeological and prehistoric researches are recent, especially that of the rock paintings (Wang and Luo, 1989; Cao, 2004; He, 2006; Yu, 2009). Dahongyan, or the Great Red Cliff, is the first rock art locality known in the Province. The research program is conducted by Cao Bo, vice-director of the Guizhou Provincial Culture Relics and Archaeology Institute. In 2012, a cooperation has developed with the Mountain Resources Institute, Academy of Sciences of Guizhou, and the Department of Prehistory of the Natural Museum of Natural History, Paris, France. The first description of the rock paintings has been presented at the IFRAO (International Federation of Rock Art Organizations) world Congress in July 2014, at Guiyang (Cao et al., 2014). The meeting was co-organized with the People's Government of Guiyang Municipality and the Rock Art Research Association of China (RARAC). The preliminary studies of some frescoes put in light ritual shamanic practices from agro-pastoral peoples before rice cultivation, in relation with animal spirits symbolized by the buffalo and the python. Three scenes are described with new observations and interpreted in the historical context of ethnic minorities and their cultural traditions devoid of written language. They have been named "The shaman dance", "The dance lesson" and "The meeting".