Joshua Tree

"Black Hands" Pictographs

I found these solitary black pictographs hidden under a pile of granite boulders out in Joshua Tree National Park. The pictographs here are very faded. A casual passerby wouldn’t even notice them. You have to know what you are looking for and stop a minute to see them.

I used false colors and D-Stretch to bring out the details in them. One large digitate anthropomorphic figure dominates the panel with its well-defined hands and feet. Smaller figures are next to him with a few undecipherable symbols there as well.

The Serrano or Chemehuevi tribes most likely created these pictographs. Why, of course, remains a mystery. They are not in a particularly important spot geographically; granite rock shelters are ubiquitous in Joshua Tree. No other rock art seems to be nearby. Perhaps some water pooled here after a significant rain and this place made a good spot to rest.

Regardless of the reason this rock art is here, it is a sacred place. Please treat it with respect.

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About Guy Starbuck

Exploring the American West.
  • Nevada
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