Thursday, December 19, 2019

Mankind's oldest cave art at Sulawesi resembles the native tree- climbers of South India.

Live Science dot com recently carried an article on humanity’s oldest ever cave art discovered in a cave in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Older than the previously oldest art of hand stencils found in Sulawesi and also at Spain  dated around the same period of 40,000 years BP, the present art dated around 44,000 years before present depicts a ‘supernatural being’ according to the report.

This therianthrope, showing a human figure with a tail, is part of the hunting scene found in cave art in Leang Bulu' Sipong in Indonesia. (Image: © Ratno Sardi)

Among the hunting scenes by spear wielding humans in the 4.5 metre long art, this human like figure appears with a snort on its face! Treating this as the artist’s imagination of supernatural beings, the researchers are of the opinion that this being is climbing a tall tree.

The report says, “During a survey for rock art, study co-author Pak Hamrullah noticed "what appeared to be the entrance to a cave located high up in a limestone cliff face, and he climbed several meters up a fig tree vine to investigate it," study co-author Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, told Live Science.”

As one having seen the native tree-climbers in my region, this figure appears to me as that of a tree climber and not a super natural being. With thick and long ropes made of plant fibres hanging around the body which locks them firmly with the tree while climbing and the feet-of-the-frog like accessories for firm grip on the trunk of the tree, I don’t find much difference between them and this man in the cave art in the act of climbing. With Sulawesi being native to tall Eucalypt trees, the figure seems to be proof of tree- climbing as the oldest surviving activity or profession of mankind.
Here is a picture of the native tree climber of India that I could spot in the net, but this man is not actually fully equipped with his accessories.

Here is another I picked out from a blog.

The tree climber in the cave art is using more than one circular rope to climb the tree. The snort on his face could be some head gear, as the tree climbers use head gears. The man in the picture (below) is using the frog like feet accessory for climbing. This is somewhat similar to the feet gear of the man in the cave art.

The feet accessory ties up the two feet and helps the climber in moving the legs up simultaneously. In the cave art, the feet accessory looks like a semi circular base put around the tree on which the climber rested his feet. The feet are tied to the base which he drags up while climbing. Though the appearance is different, the concept is the same.

With tall trees dotting the tropical Indian Ocean islands starting from Madagascar to Polynesia in the Far East, tree climbing must have been an occupation by itself since long. Normally we are led to think that island countries must have been thriving in fishing and sea-faring activities. The tropical islands are also known for tall trees such as coconut and palm varieties, facilitating the growth of a class of people who specialise in tree-climbing and also of others making goods from tree-products. Connection through sea helps in easy transmission of specialists and also spread of the skill.

The land forms of the 2nd Sangam age reflect this kind of sea-based life style and occupation. During the times before c.1500 BCE, (when 2nd Sangam age was thriving) seven types of land forms had existed that can be matched with island based living. ‘Adiyārkku Nallār, the olden commentator for Silappadhikaram had given the names of these lands. There were forty nine countries categorised into seven on the basis of the nature of the land that had existed mostly off the southern shores of India and stretching towards east in South East Asia. I have given below their names along with the meanings.

7 Thenga naadu (
தெங்க நாடு) (coconut country)
7 Madurai naadu (
மதுரை நாடு), (Inland countries or cities with settled life)
7 Mun paalai naadu (
முன் பாலை நாடு), (desert country in early part (of the year))
7 pin paalai naadu (
பின் பாலை நாடு ) (desert county in later part (of the year))
7 kundra naadu (
குன்ற நாடு) (Mountainous country)
7 GuNakarai naadu (
குணகரை நாடு) (Eastern shore country)
7 kurumpanai naadu (
குறும்பனை நாடு) (Short palm country)

Of the seven types, two are identified by the presence of coconut and palm trees (7+7 = 14 countries were of these two types). Such regions are found as far as Polynesia. For example Tonga, one among 169 islands of the Polynesian Archipelago traces its name to the meaning “southwards” which is ‘thekku’ in colloquial Tamil and ‘therku’ in grammatical Tamil. The word Tonga resembles Thenga country of 2nd Sangam age. There are other similarities too, mainly the fire-walking ritual in this region to justify the spread of a people of the same culture between Indian shores and Polynesia that could have housed sea based countries among the 49 countries of the 2nd Sangam age.

The submerged western ghat-extension running upto Madagascar where Seychelles and Maldives are located fits the bill for the seven mountainous countries. One might recall the Valmiki Ramayana verse of Agastya once having made the end of Mahendra Mountain enter the ocean. (VR: 4.41.19). That was metaphorical of subduction of the extension of the Western Ghats south off Kerala into the Indian Ocean. (Wherever rise or subduciton of land forms are indicated, there Agastya’s name will also be present).

Of interest here for this article is the scope of commonality in this vast stretch among people of tree-climbing occupation. With the olden tree- climbing methods still continuing in parts of South India, the cave art of Sulawesi seems to be proof for the presence of the same occupation from long past in the regions connected by Indian Ocean.


Surya said...

I have an unrelated question. A brief answer would be appreciated if you can. Will Modi [Vrischaka Raasi] and Shah [Mesha Raasi] be negatively impacted by all that's going on in India today? And will India be in for instability? You had predicted that several years ago with the country's Chandra dasa.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

India's Moon-dasa - Saturn Bhukti started on 3rd December 2019 and will last till 2nd July 2011. Within that period transit saturn will be in 7th from Moon sign of India (cancer). Struggle is there.

Added to this, Jupiter, saturn and Sun (State / state head) coming in Rahu- Ketu axis in fiery sign + Solar eclipse in the same sign in Moola (Nirriti) are the causes for the current turmoil. By 1st January the current trouble will come down. Within that period, threat of destruction by fire for temples, temple related signs, Brahmins, kshatriyas (police and army) is possible. Tension at border also possible. With Mars not joining the combination, damage will be limited.

Horoscopes of Modi and Amit Shah show that current crisis will be overcome. They had gone through worse phases than this and come out well. However there are going to be tougher times for them in the 2nd half of next year (2020) as per their horoscopes.

The current crisis is more mundane (transit planets + eclipse) oriented and I wish the current rulers, before taking major decisions check for good times in astrology. Other side of it, they must have spread awareness about CAB before bringing it out.

Throughout Moon Maha dasa, Pakistan and Muslim related problems will be there. Better times begin from 2015 (Moon dasa- Sun Bhukti)

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Read as 2025(Moon dasa- Sun Bhukti)

//Throughout Moon Maha dasa, Pakistan and Muslim related problems will be there. Better times begin from 2015 (Moon dasa- Sun Bhukti)//

Surya said...

Thank you so much. I will read again and reread. This is the best and only analysis that I have seen so far. May God bless you always. I hope that Amit Shah is more cautious in the future. He's brash at times.

Swamy said...

Thankyou Jayashree Ji

Siva said...

Thanks for the details about the current Moon Dhasa and its implications madam. Need blessings from almighty for both Namo and Amit Shah to take right decisions and right time.

Best Regards


Jayasree Saranathan said...

Another typo - pointed out by Mr Siva. Thanks Mr Siva.

Read * India's Moon-dasa - Saturn Bhukti started on 3rd December 2019 and will last till 2nd July 2021

//India's Moon-dasa - Saturn Bhukti started on 3rd December 2019 and will last till 2nd July 2011//

Venkat Ranganathan said...

Thanks for the article. Interesting observations.

BTW, The last paragraph in our comment seems to also have a type. Did you mean 2025 or 2021 (instead of 2015?)


Jayasree Saranathan said...

@ Mr Venkat Ranganathan,

Yes, but after noticing it I posted the corrected date in the next comment.

I have given two times in the comment
(1) the current time of Moon Dasa- Saturn Bhukti: from 3rd Dec 2019 to 2nd July 2021.
(2) Better period starts from Moon dasa - Sun Bhukti: from 2025

Unknown said...

2011 should be 2021, I think

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Yes. Corrected in comment on December 21, 2019 at 10:58 PM