The rock art of Kisar Island, Indonesia: a small island with a wealth and diversity of artistic expression
AbstractWe report 40 recently discovered rock art sites from Kisar Island in eastern Indonesia and investigate the commonalities between this art and painted art in other islands of Indonesia and in Timor-Leste. Predominantly painted, the art can be broadly divided into three categories: 1) small figurative motifs including humans, animals, boats and items of material culture, 2) a range of geometrics, both curvilinear and rectilinear, and 3) hand and arm stencils. On the basis of geological features and weathering we suggest that the Kisar paintings span a considerable period of time, from the Pleistocene through to the Indonesian historic period. We argue that the oldest paintings in the Kisar repertoire are some of the red pigment hand and arm stencils. The small figurative motifs such as the anthropomorphs and some of the geometrics are remarkably similar to those featured in the rock art assemblages of nearby Timor-Leste, and at a number of locations throughout eastern Indonesia. One site with an engraved motif carved into a stalagmite formation was also recorded.