Canebrake Pictographs

Elongated anthropomorph pictographs at site "B".

What is being covered here is actually two different locations, however they are within a short walking distance from each other. At the first site which I’ll dub as site “A”, there are a few medium to small red colored pictographs. They are extremely faded, and difficult to see. Images that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing of this site that are just a few years old show more detail, and additional images that are no longer visible with the naked eye.

 

A very faint pictograph at site "A".

A very faint pictograph at site “A”.

 

Site “B” is the real treasure of the two locations. The pictographs here are much more crisp due to being more protected from the environment by a rock overhang. The pictographs at site “B” are again red in color. It is thought that the pictographs at both sites may have been used to determine the beginning of the winter solstice. Also at site “B” there are grinding holes, and a number of stone shelters. An additional small pictograph site can be found just a few feet up the hill from the main site.

The Canebrake Pictographs have been identified as being a product of the Tübatulabal (Translated as “Pine-nut Eaters or Gatherers”) Tribe. McGuire and Garfinkel date the era of the Tübatulabal at Canebrake to between 1,200 B.C. to 600 A.D. in their 1982 paper, “Archaeological Investigations in the Southern Sierra Nevada: The Bear Mountain Segment of the Pacific Crest Trail.” The territory of the Tübatulabal includes the Kern and South Fork Kern Rivers drainages extending to the high mountainous terrain in the north to about 41 miles below the junction of the two rivers in the south.

 

Pictograph at site "B". The circular image is thought to be the sun, and the lines are thought to represent days until winter solstice.

Pictograph at site “B”. The circular image is thought to be the sun, and the lines are thought to represent days until winter solstice.

 

Pictographs are much more common from the Tübatulabal than petroglyphs. This is likely due to regular access of berries that was used to make paints. Petroglyphs are usually found carved into basalt rock, there is little to no basalt found in the tribes territory. The designs painted by the Tübatulabal Tribe are mostly abstract, and often depicts anthropomorphs, zoomorphs, and other realistic motifs.

Members of the Tübatulabal Tribe still live in the area today. At last count in October of 2012 the tribe had 287 members.

Elongated anthropomorph pictographs at site "B".

Elongated anthropomorph pictographs at site “B”.

 

Faded pictograph at site "A".

Faded pictograph at site “A”.

 

 

A distant view of the area that both sites are located.

A distant view of the area that both sites are located.

 

 

Interested in visiting this site?

GUIDE SERVICE OPTION: Jim’s Guide Service may be the right choice for you. Jim can provide you with a single day to multiday rock art tours throughout the Mojave Desert.  Visit the guide website for more details.

BOOK OPTION: The Canebrake Pictograph Site is featured in Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. III. Detailed maps, and GPS coordinates are included.  Order your copy now.

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

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