Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Art > Rock Art

The petroglyphs of Kalina

Eight kilometers south of Alero de Taira is the archeological site of Calina Oeste, an open-air campcontaining the remains of several circular stone-walled dwellings. The camp’s former occupants are believed to have been hunters in the early stages of domesticating camelids, specifically through the capture and taming of wild guanacos, among other species. The large rock wall situated a few meters away from the dwellings contains more than 20 panels of rock art in which beautiful lifelike images of camelids are the sole theme. All of the animals depicted in thesefinely incised petroglyphs are shown in profile, with a triangular head, vertical or backward-inclined ear and only two extremities, and most have no identifiable feet. The same style of imagery has been identified at 18 other sites in the vicinity, in Lasana, in the upper Salado River basin and at Puripica, near San Pedro de Atacama.

The images show the artists’ evident concern with camelid fertility: Several of the panels display pregnant female camelids, some with their headslooking backwards, a pose typically adopted by females as they labor. The images point to a belief in the symbolic power of petroglyphs to guarantee the multiplication of these early animal herds. As calving time is in summer, theserepresentations of females in advanced stages of pregnancy may have been linked to propitiatory rituals, which would have been performed shortly before that time. The images also indicate the presence of calving females near Calina Oeste.

Location: Upper Loa River basin, Region II of Antofagasta.
Timeframe: Approximately 2500–1600 B.C.
Style: Kalina

Source: J. Berenguer, 1999, “El evanescente lenguaje del arte rupestre en los Andes atacameños,” in Arte rupestre en los Andes de Capricornio, J. Berenguer and F. Gallardo, Eds., pp. 12-21, Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago.