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Anthropomorphic motif discovered in Wayanad

E.M. Manoj
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An anthropomorphic motif on a rock in the Thovari hills near the Edakkal caves, Wayanad.— Photo: Special Arrangement
An anthropomorphic motif on a rock in the Thovari hills near the Edakkal caves, Wayanad.— Photo: Special Arrangement

An anthropomorphic figure has been discovered among the prehistoric petroglyphs (rock engravings) on the Thovari hills near Edakkal caves in the Wayanad district of Kerala.

This is the first time an anthropomorphic figure, a recurring motif of pre-historic rock arts sites in the world, has been reported from the site.

The rock engravings at Thovari are generally believed to consist mainly of geometrical and abstract figures.

The petroglyph, a stylistic depiction of a human being with a bow and arrow in the left hand, bears a close resemblance to the motif of the Indus valley seal.

The motif on a slanted rock was discovered by a group of rock art enthusiasts while documenting the petroglyphs in the district recently.

Although many geometrical figures on the rock wall, similar to those in Edakkal caves, were identified by M.R. Raghava Varier, a notable historian, in the 1980s, this is the first time an anthropomorphic figure was found on the wall.

Dr. Varier, who has undertaken a comprehensive study on the petroglyphs, told The Hindu that the finding was unique and highly significant as it looked like a prototype of the anthropomorphic figures represented on the walls, especially on the western wall, of the Edakkal cave.

“One of the motifs on the wall of the Edakkal cave is an elaborated one of the new finding and we assume a kind of continuity in both engravings,” Dr. Varier said, adding that it was difficult to find any similarity in the richness of both the engravings.

Scholars, however, could assume some similarities in the tools used for the purpose and the style adopted for engravings in both sites. The proximity of the site to Edakkal also increased the magnitude of the new finding, he added.


  • A stylistic depiction of a human being with a bow and arrow

  • ‘The finding is unique and highly significant’


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