Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Hunter gatherers and coastal fishermen



Through their contact with the agricultural and herding groups living in the desert and inland valleys, these hunter-gatherer-fishers obtained objects such as ceramics, metal and fine woven cloth of camelid hair, while they themselves made clothing from sea bird skins and ornaments of feathers and shells, especially pendants and bead necklaces, which they often traded with other groups. Despite these accomplishments, it was in their rock art in which these groups achieved their highest form of artistic expression. Two distinct rock art styles have been attributed to these groups—one featuring painting and the other engraving. Noteworthy examples of the former have been found at the El Médano ravine, north of Taltal, where a 10 km stretch of river contains hundreds of red drawings. These include images of marine animals, mainly fish and turtles, and scenes with men riding on sea lion skin rafts hunting those same animals. Engravings have been found at Las Lizas, a beach site south of Chañaral that contains primarily figures of fish, apparently already caught.