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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

White Lady



The painting was discovered in 1917 by Reinhardt Maack, who was preparing a map of the Brandberg, the famous mountain in Namibia.

The White Lady is a rock painting, located on a panel, also depicting other art work, on a small rock overhang, deep within Brandberg Mountain. The giant granite monolith located in Damaraland and called 'The Brandberg' is Namibia's highest mountain.

The painting has long been an archaeological dilemma, and several different hypotheses have been put forth on its origins, authorship and dating. It is now usually accepted to be a Bushmen painting, dating back at least 2000 years ago.[1]

The "White Lady" archaeological site is located close to the road from Khorixas to Henties Bay, in the area of Uis, on the Brandberg massif.

The "White Lady Group" is found in a cave known as "Maack Shelter" and portrays several human figures as well as oryxes, on a rock panel measuring about 5.5 m x 1.5 m. The "White Lady" is the most detailed human figure in the group, and measures about 39.5 cm x 29 cm. To reach The White Lady it is necessary to hike for about 40 minutes over rough terrain, along the gorge of the dry Tsisab River.

It is usually assumed that the painting shows some sort of ritual dance, and that the "White Lady" is actually a medicine man. She has white legs and arms, which may suggest that his body was painted or that he was wearing some sort of decorative attachments on his legs and arms. He holds a bow in one hand and perhaps a goblet in the other. Because of the bow and the oryxes, the painting has also been interpreted as a hunting scene. Apart from the shaman/lady, the other human figures have less detail, and are mostly completely black or completely white. One of the oryxes has human legs. The painting was probably made of ochre, charcoal, manganese, hematite, with blood serum, egg white and casein used as binding agents.[2]

The painting has undergone severe damage since it was first "discovered" in the early 20th century. For a few decades, tourists used to pour water on the painting to make the colors more clearly visible in their pictures, thus causing the painting to fade quickly. The site is now a protected heritage site of Namibia, and visiting is only permitted with official guides.

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