Animal motifs on rock art in Papua and West Papua

R. Cecep Eka Permana, Zubair Mas'ud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most of the rock art in Indonesia is found at prehistoric sites, specifically caves or cliffs in South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, East Kalimantan, Maluku, Papua, and West Papua. Most rock art with animal motifs is mainly located in Papua and West Papua. Therefore, the data in this paper are mostly based on the results of research conducted during the last ten years at rock art sites in Papua Province (with hinterland and mountainous characteristics) and in West Papua Province (with coastal and archipelagic characteristics). An analysis of these animal motifs has demonstrated that lizard and fish motifs dominate rock art in these provinces. However, rock art in Papua and West Papua also depicts turtles, snakes, birds, and several types of marine animals. The depiction of animals in rock art in Papua and West Papua has generally been interpreted as ancestor worship. However, this research argues that the interpretation of animal motifs is also related to the ongoing communal concerns and traditions, such as the fertility of the fields, success in fulfilling daily needs, and healing diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-199
JournalWacana, Journal of the Humanities of Indonesia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023


  • Rock art
  • animal motifs
  • Papua
  • West Papua
  • interpretation of animal motifs
  • ancestor worship


Dive into the research topics of 'Animal motifs on rock art in Papua and West Papua'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this