Monday December 29, 2008
Art of our ancestors
Story and photos by ANTHONY LAW
THE prehistoric rock paintings in Tambun, Ipoh, may not be the only ones in the area.
Archaeology student Noel Hidalgo Tan believes the rock paintings are clues to show that there are other similar paintings yet to be discovered.
This, he said, was because prehistoric paintings were always found in clusters.
Tan, 30, who is currently doing his thesis on the Tambun prehistoric paintings discovered by the British army in 1959, was in Ipoh to take part in a guided tour of the Tambun caves organised by Perak Heritage Society (PHS).
Tan added that the limestone paintings in Tambun were of archaeological importance.
“I believe these are the only prehistoric iron oxide paintings in Malaysia,” Tan said of the paintings located several meters high on limestone walls.
Tan said he believed the prehistoric people used scaffolding to paint a dugong, a catfish, a turtle, a flying fox, a tapir and a herd of deer on the limestone walls.
“I will conduct an inventory of the paintings, none has been done so far,” Tan said.
He said his research would include determining the age of the paintings by carbon dating and conducting a chemistry test on the material used in the paintings.
The site of the prehistoric paintings was once under the sea, judging from the presence of seashells found scattered on the limestone hill which is at least 30m high.
Perak Heritage Society president Law Siak Hong said the paintings were not cave paintings as they were not found in caves but on the face of limestone rock.
After viewing the prehistorical drawings, the society members travelled south to Naga Mas near Gopeng to see the fossil of a mammal embedded in a cave wall.
“The bones belong either to a leopard or cat,” said Liz Price who has written many books on caves.
The bones, though high up, have been vandalised and need protection as there are people who are trying to remove the bones, believing that they have supernatural power or potential for the practice of black magic.