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Decorated half round rods

Untitled; abstraction employing charcoal lines, 1951

Half round rods decorated with elaborate patterns are known from many sites in southwest France and the Pyrenees dating between approximately 16,000 and 12,000 years ago. They are made from antler and have straight, parallel sides that taper to converge at both ends. The convex surface is most decorated and corresponds to outer surface of the antler. The opposite side shows the inner spongy structure of the material that is smoothed down to a flat surface that occasionally caries some decoration. These objects show no sign of any use and do not seem to have any utilitarian function. The patterns on them vary in elaboration and between sites and regions. The intricate designs are often produced in low relief and took a lot of time to produce by scraping away the outer surface of the antler around the lines of the intended pattern, a process possibly aided by soaking the material in water first in order to soften it. Even so, the concentration required for many hours of repetitive work possibly induced a meditative state in the artist who perhaps communicated special insights through them.

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