"In my pursuit of interspecies relations and animal aesthetics, I have made a lifelong study of totemic peoples' attempts to communicate directly with various species."
The following is a brief look at some of the petroglyphs Jim Nollman has encountered that depict interactions between humans and other creatures. Like his own efforts to record and document the extraordinary experiences he has had, these rock drawings provide a glimpse of the importance interspecies communication has played in the lives of ancient hunting peoples. Music and ceremony often preceded the hunt and songs and instruments were used on occasion to attract and speak with animals.
"In 2000 I went to Russia to view and document petroglyphs. Petroglyph means a picture chipped out of rock is different than a pictograph which is a rock painting. I went to Russia because my work connects art to nature, music to animals, ancient shamanism to modern spirituality. Precisely, I was asked by the Russian Academy of Sciences and Canaz Film Production to help interpret the shamanic subject matter of these petroglyphs. They were carved in rock by a European aboriginal people, and showed gods, explicit details of a relatively unknown ancient culture, and hunting practices. We traveled to 3 areas by boat and by helicopter. These were lake Onega on the south, Zalavruga on the southern coast of the White Sea, and Kanozero above the Arctic Circle.
It was to an area every Finn knows well as Karelia (see map below), a Republic within the Russian Federation. The Karelians are a finno/ugric race of people who originated in the northern Urals, migrating into western Russia in waves starting about 6000 years ago. From there, individual tribes scattered north. The earliest tribe was probably the Saamis or Laplanders. The Hungarians, Estonians, Finns and the Karelians followed.These people were hunters. And they not only left us pictures, but also complete scenes of themselves in action.
By going to the site and looking at these petroglyphs right in the rocks I could see that they described a relationship to animals, such as the moose, that is no longer possible today. All these animals are in decline across Europe. Just as important, we human beings no longer need them to survive. They have lost their sacredness."
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