Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads (CSEN)


A copy of The Indo-European Studies Bulletin

with this article may be obtained by contacting:


Dr. Deborah Anderson, Editor



The Kangjiashimenzi Petroglyphs in Xinjiang, Western China

by Jeannine Davis-Kimball

 (Excerpted from Indo-European Studies Bulletin , Volume 7, Issue 2 May /June 19)

 [Editor's Note: Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball traveled to the Kangjiashimenzi petroglyph sitelocated in Xinjiang, China, in August of 1991 and again in May and June of 1997. These anthropomorphic rock carvings are unique in style and content. The costume elements depicted link Xinjiang with the whole of Central Asia.]


 1. Background
One manner in which prehistoric populations expressed and preserved special activities and belief systems was by carving and painting on stone outcroppings. In Eurasia, many thousands of petroglyphs were carved most likely by Indo-Iranians, Bronze Age sedentary populations of the second millennium BC and Early Iron Age nomads from the first millennium BC. From at least 2000 BC, these peoples inhabited steppes and intermountain valleys as far east as central Mongolia. Their carvings are found in southern Siberia and Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgryzstan. In Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, China, early populations relating to those of Central Asia carved petroglyphs on rock outcroppings which also date to the second and first millennia BC. Petroglyphs carved by Early Iron Age peoples along the Karakorum Highway leading into northern India, are closely related to those of the Altay Mountains and southern Kazakhstan.

 . . . . Generative and regenerative forces of nature, propagating, birthing, and life- maintaining have always been a universal phenomena; these themes are the major subjects of rock carvings.

 . . . . . Because of the immense quantity of petroglyphs in Eurasia featuring primarily zoomorphisms, the low relief anthropomorphic tableau located in the Tien Shan Mountains at the site of Kangjiashimenzi, 75 kilometers southwest of the Hutubei county center stands out. Here the low relief images are finely executed and clearly depict a somber fertility ritual


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