Bird Headed Man With Bison: 15 Facts About Lascaux Cave Painting

The Bird headed man with bison, or the Bird Man of Lascaux, is a 20th century archeological discovery.

This did not start with archaeology experts but rather an accidental incident of a dog falling down the sink hole. The dog belonged to four teenage boys. They, along with the lanterns and gears, went on to discover what lies beneath. Cave walls with paintings were discovered. The cave painting is famous for its imagery and excellent condition that prevails till today. Various animal images were discovered, like bison, ibex, mammoths and rhinoceros. Archaeologists too arrived on the scene, and what they unearthed is something this post will deal with. Keep on reading for more.

1 Where Is The Cave Located?

Bird Headed Man With Bison

The cave of El Castillo is an archaeological site located in the homonymous mountain of the town of Puente Viesgo (Cantabria). It along with other caves of Paleolithic representations of the Cantabrian Cornice, were declared a World Heritage. The cave depicting a bird headed man with bison is found in Lascaux Cave, Dordogne, France, at the bottom of a 16-foot shaft.

2 What Were The Symbolisms Of The Man-bison Of El Castillo?

Bird Headed Man With Bison

Bird Headed Man With Bison

The other emblems included are Tito Bustillo, La Garma, or Altamira. In its surroundings, other caves are also found embedded with magnificent Pleistocene representations like the currencies, fireplaces. In addition to its walls and lintels, the Castle of Paleolithic is one of the most important deposits of Europe in the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, with impressive strati-graphic power.

3 What Are The Elements Of Paleolithic Work?

Bird Headed Man With Bison

Although little is known to the public, the man-bison of El Castillo is one of the most unique works of the Paleolithic. There is a sculpture in low relief that is embedded in a stalagmite. Nature itself began the work and it was the mind of Paleolithic man who divined the forms in the rock itself and ended up configuring an anthropomorphic figure with human and animal features. It combines the three fundamental techniques of the Paleolithic: sculpture, engraving and painting.

4 What Material Was Used In Painting Of The Bird Headed Man With Bison?

The painting was done using limestone and other natural elements.

5 What Utility Does The Location Serve?

The painting at the bottom of a 16-foot shaft would have been very hard to get to. The private space in the deep part of a cave must have possibly been used for rituals.

6 What Is The Context And Significance Of Work?

The picture shows a man wearing a bird mask and having a spear with a bird carved on one end of it. It pictures a man who has just speared a bison, which still shows there is no border between the human and animal worlds.

7 What Are The Possible Functions/meanings Of Work?

The work may be an illustration of a story or myth, record of an actual event, or the record of a shaman vision. A textual reference gives four possible explanations about the representation. It is suggested that this specific image of a bird-headed man might be of a shaman in a delighted daydream.

The writer compares the representation to that of a cow sacrifice by the Siberian Yakut. There are posts topped by birds, similar to the ones depicted in the Lascaux scene. These supporting spirits help the shaman accomplish his journey while he is unconscious.

8 The Formation Of Sculpture Of Man-bison (El Castillo)

A figure with head and body of bison is formed which ends in human lower limbs. The shape of the human foot can be clearly seen. The jiba takes advantage of a natural bulge of the rock, which has been emphasized by means of the scraping technique. The present state of the pigment was quite unstable in origin. It is represented in vertical with dimensions of 73 cms of height and variable in its width.

9 What Was The Nature Of Classification?

Since there is no direct dating, the classification is problematic. Resorting to formal comparisons remains the only choice. Researchers classified them within the Magdalenian techno-complex, in style IV of the traditional classification.

With advances in dating systems, the obsolete nature of this classification was revealed. By conjugating the stylistic comparison with the new art dates, it is possible that the man-bison of El Castillo would have to fit it into one of the old techno-complexes of the upper Paleolithic.

10 What Are The Parallelisms Of Cave Figures That Exist?

Bird Headed Man With Bison

The most evident parallelism is found in the cave of Chauvet both by the theme represented (a man-bison), as well as by the formal characteristics and the support used. There is a face with a bipedal figure painted black and some characteristics observed in the Cantabrian cave, bison body (antlers, jiba, and head) and human limbs. The representation is associated with another one in which the legs and the pubis of a Paleolithic Venus are intuited. It has given rise to the interpretation of the scene of a relation of sex. The bison have been dated in 32,900 BP, during the technician complex Auriñaciense.

11 What Sort Of Representation Is Found In The Cave Of Les Trois-Fréres?

Bird Headed Man With Bison

Two other representations of man-bison are located in, one of them is the famous witch in which is represented a figure with head and body of bison and human limbs that is playing a flute. He seems to be in a scene where he would lead a herd of animals. There exists in the cave a second male figure bestialized with features of bison, this time it is represented isolated and with the head turned backwards. In both, we observed the defining characteristics mentioned above, bipedism and marked sex. Although in the first case the interpretation as a male figure gives me some doubts since the presence of sex can be seen as part of the belly.

12 Which Other Male Representation Is Found In The Cave?

human limbs associated with an owl's head

Apart from the figure of the bison-man we find other representations of the male figure that follow the same pattern but with a tinge of variation in the theme. One such example is found in the same cave of the two previous figures. In it, the human limbs are associated with an owl’s head or an owl, a deer antler and a ponytail. The erect position is not full, which suggests it as a type of dance. The male representation appears between the legs but in the back. It used the technique of black paint, quite degraded today.

13 What Is The Style Of Man-Uro?

Bird Headed Man With A Bison

The three figures of the cave of have been classified by stylistic criteria. The man-uro of Gabillou is a variation of similar subject. There are human limbs in which the shape of the human foot is clearly associated with tail, head and horns of uro. The position is erect, although the legs are slightly flexed. It has been interpreted as a dancing position. It is an attribution to the masculine gender by the presence of a supposed erect sex that generates doubts but is acceptable. The technique used is deep engraving.

14 What Are The Other Associations With The Bird Head?

Bird Headed Man With Bison

There are other male representations in Altamira or Lascaux. They were associated with heads of birds, with highlight of habitual characteristics of standing position and sex. The anthropomorphic representations (on the same hill Castillo) do not have sufficient features to classify the representations as male figures, although they have been interpreted as sorcerers, reflecting once more the dominant male ideology.

15 What Are The Different Interpretations Of The Cave Figures?

The anthropomorphic figures with shamans, sorcerers or wizards, have numerous interpretations throughout history. It is a highlight to the works of the French researcher Jean Clottes. There are theories on ethnographic comparisons that require some carefulness when comparing the present shamanic societies with the hunter-gatherer societies of the Upper Paleolithic.

Accepting that these societies had not evolved anything in more than 40,000 years is difficult. Another aspect that silences these theories is the participation of the woman, attributing the practice of rites to shamans or sorcerers in masculine. It obviates the presence of similarly animalized feminine representations with traits of the Paleolithic bestiary.