The most common form of ancient African paintings is on rock. Ancient African societies were hunter-gatherers and roamed the vast continent looking for food.
Ancient African paintings were created in many different styles over time. Many of the ancient African paintings on rock were of animals, people, battle scenes, and some had figures shaped like human animals.
Traditional ancient African paintings were crafted mainly on wood that could not withstand the harsh climate over time. Although, some have been found and preserved.
For more than 27,000 years ancient Africans painted or engraved on rocks. The paintings were crafted in many forms including pictographs and petroglyphs.
There are two specific areas where each is more prominent than the other. Ancient African paintings on rock or pictographs were created in areas where there are caves or rock outcrops of granite or sedimentary rocks like sandstone.
Ancient African paintings which were engraved on rocks are petroglyphs and appear in areas of the continent where igneous rock like dolerite exist.
There are more than 14,000 sites containing pictographs or petroglyphs that have been discovered by archeologists in Africa.
Ancient African painting materials were consistent with most ancient societies. Red ochre was the most common dye used for painting.
Other colors like maroon and yellow were developed by mixing egg, blood, plant juices, and fat together. Charcoal was used for black and ash was used for white colors.
Next to rocks, wood was the most common material used as a canvas. Unfortunately wood does not last very long in extreme conditions that range from desert to mountains to rain forest.
The most common form of ancient African paintings is fine line painting. Fine line painting is the outline of a figure then filled in with the same color or a different color. Ancient African painters used their fingers, sticks, or a brush made of fur.
Themes of ancient African paintings varied but were mostly drawings of animals both wild and domesticated, people farming, and human/animal figures that were used by shamans.
Many times ancient African paintings contained a hand prints and finger dots. Ancient African painting also used geometric forms to create diamonds, circles, rectangles and squares that would intertwine with each other.
Ancient African painting themes varied from region to region. For instance, in South Africa a crocodile or lizard was more prevalent, whereas the kudu and giraffe were more apparent in ancient African paintings in areas like Namibia and Tanzania.
Shamans or gods