The Thin Red Line Analysis

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The first article I will critically examine is by Prof. David Lewis-Williams: The thin red line: southern San notions and rock paintings of supernatural potency (1981). This article examines the function, relationship and role of the “medicine men” in rock art and maintaining social relationships within the San community.
The function, relationship and role of medicine men is inferred from ethnographic sources, as well as the images portrayed in the rock art (Lewis-Williams 1981). Throughout the article there is mention of medicine men curing, capturing rain animals, driving off malevolent influences and travelling to distant places to validate the safety of distant friends (Lewis-Williams 1981). Notably, this was achieved through
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Specifically, men dance, while women sing and clap the medicine songs (Lewis-Williams 1981). The interaction and collaboration of the men and women during the trance dance produces potency: !gi:, which is highly regarded and used in every aspect of San life (Lewis-Williams 1981). Furthermore, social and emotional unity is established through the dance, and continues to be exploited by the !Kung to minimise social tension (Lewis-Williams 1981). Lewis-Williams (1981) highlights the possible function of the red line mentioned in the title. He suggests that the position of the red line by the dancers’ feet and across the clapping women links the San community through !gi: and functions in stabilising the internal workings of San societies (Lewis-Williams 1981). Thus, the interactions between men and women during the trance dance is vital to the normal functioning of these societies, so much so that this ideology continues within !Kung communities (Lewis-Williams 1981). These ideas portrayed in the article are framed in functionalism, specifically the references to social and emotional unity. Additionally, the functional role of both men and women, and the dance is essential in stabilising the community and preserving the continuity of San ideology in their daily…show more content…
In particular, the eland, as well as certain other animals are highly associated with !gi: (Lewis-Williams 1981). At Fulton’s rock the man and eland are dying and both are in contact with the red line with white dots, indeed this highlights the interdependent relationship between medicine men, animals and indirectly the rest of the San community (Lewis-Williams 1981). Additionally, rock art provides insight into the functional relationship within San communities, as it affirms the role of medicine men in ensuring the continuity and security of the southern San social formation (Lewis-Williams
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