Red Lady Pictograph & Brunette Lady Pictograph Sites (Joshua Tree National Park)

I had heard that there were two pictograph locations in Joshua Tree National Park depicting a female in red paint. Having never before come across a design of a female form in what appears to be a red dress, I was intrigued.

Both, “The Red Lady” and “Brunette Lady” sites are thought to be Chemehuevi sites, indicating the first day of spring, also the beginning of the Chemehuevi’s new calendar.

 

Brunette Lady Pictograph - Joshua Tree National Park

Brunette Lady Pictograph – Joshua Tree National Park

 

Above image has been enhanced to show detail.

Above image has been enhanced to show detail.

 

 

At the “Brunette Lady” site, archaeologists have noticed that only on spring equinox, the sun can be seen through a notch at the site during sunrise. It is also believed that these two site are fertility sites. Present at the Brunette Lady site is what appear to be a set of twins. The twins may represent the ‘twin sons of the sun’, as told in the Chemehuevi legend of the “lone woman of the cave.”

 

The twins may represent the 'twin sons of the sun', as told in Chemehuevi legend.

The twins may represent the ‘twin sons of the sun’, as told in Chemehuevi legend.

 

Above image has been enhanced to show detail.

Above image has been enhanced to show detail.

 

The “Red Lady” Pictograph site is located roughly a mile east of the “Brunette Lady.” Like the “Brunette Lady” it is believed that there is a connection to the “lone woman of the cave” story. The story indicates that a woman, “went out one morning to urinate and, as she spread her legs wide, the rising sun penetrated her with his rays and she became pregnant.”

 

The Red Lady Pictograph - Joshua Tree National Park

The Red Lady Pictograph – Joshua Tree National Park

 

 

A large mortar is present at the “Red Lady” site. An archaeologist that has observed the site has documented on spring equinox, “One half hour before noon a small arrow shaped spot of light suddenly appeared, pointing to the bedrock mortar, the pointer grew in size, quickly moved toward the lone hole and then made a ‘nose dive’ into it.” Reading into the ritual would indicate that the mortar acts as a vagina, and the arrow shaped rays of the sun, as a penis. When the sun rays enter the mortar, it is penetrating it, indicating a season of fertility.

 

The mortar stone, which likely acts as a ritualistic vagina.

The mortar stone, which likely acts as a ritualistic vagina.

 

Sun pictograph at the Red Lady site. Barely visible to the eye.

Sun pictograph at the Red Lady site. Barely visible to the eye.

 

Above image has been enhanced to show detail.

Above image has been enhanced to show detail.

 

 

 

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.

  • Desertbat

    Bribes you for gps #’s. Great read.