culture is subconscious

California rock art confirms: culture is subconscious

California’s Painted Rock panel, a large work, reconstructed in a copy by Campbell Grant, who worked at Walt Disney. Styling is no indication of spiritual or cultural complexity or quality. The work is compared to the freehand ink copy of Mary Brumley Noyes, a European settler woman who made renditions of some of these rock art characters. Both versions are equally structured.

California’s Painted Rock includes a very long rock art panel in a semi-geometric style typical of herder cultures generally, comparable to much of western North American art. Some of the features and styling are distinctive to this site. Despite the length, and apparent separation of the long panel into four separate groups, there are only about eighteen semi-naturalistic characters (people or animals) in the panel, inviting structural analysis of their attributes and relative spacing (Reconstruction from photographs and drawings by Campbell Grant. Type labels and axial grid added by Edmond Furter. Colour inverted for clarity. Image length condensed to separate relative spacing).

[UPDATE 2016; See structural analyses of buildings, villages, temples, complexes, pyramid fields, geoglyphs and cities at My second book, Stoneprint, the human code in art, buildings and cities (400 pages, 130 illustrations), demonstrates that cultural grammar, or the periodic table of culture, is innate, and readable in all our works.]

Painted Rock, California (Campbell Grant. Mindprint labels and axial grid added by Edmond Furter, 2016). This is a myth map, and subconscious expression of archetypal structure. It is not a star map, despite the inclusion of some constellations, such as Gemini on the right.
Painted Rock, California (Campbell Grant. Type labels and axial grid added by Edmond Furter, 2016). This is a myth map, and subconscious expression of archetypal structure. It is not a star map, despite the inclusion of some constellations, such as Gemini on the right.

Some of the features of rock art, and noted in structural analysis as frequent in all art, seem cartoonish due to the styling. However all distinctive visual features, once reduced to their basic postures, or items, could be considered cartoons (see Maurice Cotterell’s demonstration of cartoon animation in Mayan art, by moving duplicate overlays around various polar points).

Campbell Grant, who meticulously reconstructed this magnificent and mysterious rock art panel, worked at Walt Disney. However styling is no indication of spiritual or cultural complexity or quality. Some San Bushmen, and Michelangelo, sculpted and painted much better than Lapp drum illustrators, yet they, and non-artists, are equally human, and get equal benefit from a good story or song or movie (see a European settler woman’s version of some of these characters, in a new mindprint, below).

Type label; Characters in California’s Painted Rock (noting archetypal features);

1 Builder or Taurus as a skin, perhaps of a buffalo (bovid).
2 Builder or Taurus as a burrower, or the hind paw of a large animal or skin in twisted posture (twisted). Some rock art express animals by their tracks or tail tufts (see Twyfelfontein engravings in Namibia, in Mindprint). The character over the animal or skin may have hoofs (bovid). The character under this could be a spider (of type 2c Basket, as it is on a Gobekli Tepe pillar, see an adjacent post).

2c Basket; Extra head of the lightning person
3 Queen or Aries as tall lightning person (neck long or bent). Lightning is more typical of type 2 adjacent, (see USA Cienega Mission turtle woman engraving, Mindprint p110).

4 King or Pisces; Peak or cliff, perhaps of Painted Rock itself. NO EYE.
4p Gal.S.Pole; Outline corner? (juncture).

5a Priest or Aquarius as a peak or cliff outside Painted Rock. NO EYE.
5b Priest or Aquarius as a shrimp or boat (varicoloured, hyperactive, horizontal).

4c Basket Tail as extra features?
6 Exile or Capricornus as a swimmer or fish (tail), with a proboscis or snorkel (see 6 as Pan with a flute or double flute, and 6 as Kokopelli or long-nosed characters, in Mindprint p160-163).
6 Exile or Capricornus B as a turtle, far from the centre (egress). Its opposite at 14 is more often a turtle, or two turtles. Splitting of this type into two is unusual, however 6 may be double-headed (Mindprint p161).
6 Exile or Capricornus EXTRA; A swimmer, more typical of 5 adjacent, OFF THE GRID

7 Child or Sagittarius as a baggy person (bag), in wavy outlines (rope).
7g Galactic Centre on large human with ‘pirate’ hat. This is the only naturalistic figure whose eyes are not on the grid, but it is pictured without eyes, with a lizard? over one eye, and with unnatural eyes on top of its head.

8 Healer or Scorpius; A skin person (common in rock art worldwide, usually at type 7), or jellyfish?
9 Healer or Scorpius; Two men, arms raised in dance (trance, ritual. This feature does not imply that artists are healers).

9c Basket Lid as a man in the dance row.
10 Teacher or Libra as the main dancer, arms in W posture (arms up).

11 Womb or Virgo as a double circle (interior), inside a plan or Painted Rock, which resembles a vagina and womb (womb).
11p Galactic Pole; Painted Rock entrance right side (juncture).

12 Heart or Leo; Axis to a chest (heart), of a man standing in the nearby mountain range. Compare this mountain, perhaps Sierra Madre (in light colour, here dark due to colour inversion), with Picasso’s light-bulb in his Guernica, in Mindprint p103. The likeness is coincidence, or archeitypal, not due to diffusion.
13 Heart or Leo; An animal climbing, axis on its heart (heart), perhaps felid (felid).

13c Basket Head; Lightning bolt, and a plant? (weave, herb).
14 Mixer or Cancer; Water woman with two containers (mix), between two snakes (water-snake, as in decan Hydra); between two trees (tree). See Tarot trump 14, Temperance, as the angel of Time with two jugs.

15 Maker or Gemini; Two people (doubled), arm in arm, on a shrimp resembling a quipo rope (rope), behind them a bag shape (bag). Two stars above them (doubled). This is probably a conscious expression of constellation Gemini, which also subconsciously express type 15 Maker, as a worldly re-creator. The only other figure here resembling a constellation, is type 10 Teacher or Libra resembling Bootes, which in the sky is north of Virgo (in the ecliptic grid). The design does not resemble a sky map in any projection. The mindprint model uses astronomical labels to tag relevant myths, seasons, and characteristics. Artists are not astronomers.

15g Gate; Two (doubled, of 15) rectangular shapes, one gridded by lines (grid. See the Coricancha mural in Peru, in Mindprint).

The axial centre is unmarked, as in most artworks. The celestial pole is on an inlet shape (juncture). The celestial south pole may be on Painted Rock interior wall (juncture). These markers, and horizontal plain of most of the figures (orientation), place ‘midsummer’ on or near Gemini, thus ‘spring’ and the cultural inspiration or formation in Age Pisces. The work as probably made about AD 1000 or later, about the middle of Age Pisces. However this aspect of subconscious expression is always approximate. All five levels of structuralist expression are subconscious to artists and members of all cultures.

The overall theme in this large panel could be type 14 Mixer or Cancer, of time and calendar; and its opposite, type 6 Exile or Capricornus, of scapegoat, Pan, music and dance.

Artworks test mindprint in turn

The informal mindprint analysis score is ….[see an update of the scoring formula in Stoneprint Journal, and in some other posts….] about 70%. The global average of structuralist tests of artworks worldwide, is about 60% of the 100 elements of the five layers of structure already isolated.

Scoring of all structural analyses may change as more elements of collective subconscious cultural expression are identified. Discovery of more high frequency features would raise the scores. Discovery of more low frequency features would lower the scores, by raising the number of non-expressions. No definitive scoring of art is possible. Scoring is an indication of the overall validity of the mindprint model, and demonstrates the high level of consistency in subconscious expressions globally.

Validity of the isolate features are already proven by statistical tests of the average frequencies of regular attributes; by about 700 examples of their sequence, and axial grids, polar structures, and temporal orientations; in various media; and by only three examples of artworks with more than 11 characters where the structure could not be found.

Long and narrow, but the structure is still there

Painted Rock is the longest, narrowest artwork among the first 556 works tested, to reveal a single mindprint set, in standard sequence, on the ocular (eye-to-eye) axial rid, with the polar structure, and its temporal ‘Age’ relative to the horizontal plane of its figures (see elongated axial grids in Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Mindprint p198; and in South Africa’s Mossel Bay rock art river scene, recorded by Jeremy Hollmann, where a mindprint test revealed a double imprint).

Painted Rock inspires myth and fantasy

Painted Rock in Californa is in San Luis Obispo county, on the Carrizo Plain. It is a free-standing marine sandstone outcrop near the Sierra Madre range, at the southern tip of the Great Central Valley. In the interior alcove of the horseshoe-shaped rock, are pictographs by Chumash, or Salinan, or Yokut Americans. Entrance to the horseshoe is on the north. The elevation profile from some angles resembles a turtle.

The main rock art panel is 250 feet across and 45 feet tall. The section analysed here is not the entire panel. The site is near Soda Lake, in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, west of Bakersfield, 70 miles (110 km) east of San Luis Obispo, 45 miles (72 km) west of Taft. The art is in red, black and white yucca pigments, and some yellow, green and blue, with rodent tail hair brushes, or finger painting. Yokut art often include large colorful figures and motifs. Some are made Chumash art of small elements, circular mandalas, and complex red, black and white panels. The Goodwin Education Center is near Painted Rock.

Fauna in the area include rattlesnake, burrowing kangaroo rat, San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, giant kangaroo rat, San Joaquin antelope squirrel, marine turtles, shrimps.

Some other sites are also named ‘Painted Rock’. The name Piedra Pintada could be confused with Pedra Pintada in Brazil.

Some ink drawings of the pictographs were sketched in the 1870s by pioneer resident Mary Brumley Noyes. See structural analysis of one of her drawings in Furter 2014; Mindprint p138. Here is an extract;

California's Painted Rock panel in a partial copy. Mary Brumley Noyes, pen an ink on paper. Mindprint labels and axial grid added by Edmond Furter. The copyist expressed some elements in a new structure, typical of 'traditional' art programmes, and of free hand copies
California’s Painted Rock panel in a partial copy. Mary Brumley Noyes, pen an ink on paper. Type labels and axial grid added by Edmond Furter. The copyist expressed some elements in a new structure, typical of ‘traditional’ art programmes, and of free hand copies.




New world, new culture, same shapes
Types 5a and 5b Priest or Aquarius are expressed as a world spirit, in this free-hand copy of some of the characters in a large rock art panel in California (by Pioneer settler, Mary Brumley Noyes. Ink pen on paper. Type labels and axial grid by Edmond Furter). The main figure is a large, horizontal, active, composite, dappled, benedicting healer, river baptiser, or nature spirit, as type 5often is, partly in his occasional vesica piscis halo, here around his head, conflated with some type 6 Exile or Capricornus features (see an African antelope man-boat with mushrooms. See a lightning woman in another USA rock art image, in Mindprint).

11 Womb or Virgo as a shrimp or boat, and autumn marker (see the Egyptian Hierakonpolis disc as stylistic parallel, above).

7g Galactic Centre as a luminary (light or pool).

Some features are semi-geometric, and many are assumed to be ‘cultural and traditional’, such as the animal skins on the left.

10 Teacher or Libra as a kachina doll, a ritual pageant mascot, as of Hopi culture (Gary A David; Orion zone). The original work has some unique features, such as the bandy legs, localised stylistic elements.

Mindprint remains independent of conscious meanings, with enough symbolic overlap to make the subconscious typological sequence apparent. The axial pattern is never apparent, revealed only in the sequence, itself identified only when reduced from its cryptic cultural disguise to universal attributes, such as shape, gender, posture and function.

The original work, and the copy, are notable for elegance (simplicity), and for hovering between geometry and figures, between ‘abstract’ and figurative. Both versions demonstrate that provenance (time, place, source and cultural context) remain subordinate to universal and timeless structure, however seemingly conceptual in inspiration.

The ecliptic pole is on the main figure’s elbow.
Celestial poles on an extra elbow on the left, and the lightning bolt or water arm, provide a gauge through the preceding Ages up to the 15 Gemini axis,
midsummer to Age Pisces, confirmed by the horizontal plane.

A celestial polar marker in the southern hemisphere (here the lower triangle) on the upper hand or club, confirms the inspirational tag as Age Pisces.

Here is a structuralist analysis of the Hierakonpolis disc for comparison;

Hierakonpolis disc, Egypt. Mindprint labels and axial grid added by Edmond Furter.
Hierakonpolis disc, Egypt. Type labels and axial grid added by Edmond Furter.

A romantic novel, The Painted Rock: A legend, by Myron Angel in 1910, was inspired by the Californian Painted Rock site. Many of Angel’s fictitious fancies have since become regarded as historical and ethnographical fact (Whitley, DS, 2007; National Historic Landmark Nomination).

See more art analysis examples, and text on the philosophy and psychology of archetype, and on structural anthropology, on

Comments are welcome on that blog, or this blog

See an article on structural rock art analysis in Expressions 9, at

Order the book Mindprint, by Edmond Furter (2014), with 200 art and rock art illustrations, a critique of cognitive archaeology and art history, references, and an index of 400 tested artworks, from

By Edmond Furter

Edmond Furter wrote the book Mindprint, the subconscious art code (2014,, to demonstrate five layers of recurrent features in 200 artworks of all cultures and Ages, revealing the archetypal core content of culture. His second book, Stoneprint, the human code in art, buildings and cities (2016, Four Equators Media), expands demonstrations of the subconscious expression of archetypal structure to houses, temples, monuments, pyramid fields, geoglyphs, villages, cities and regions. The same structure also appears in mythology, such as Babylonian building rituals; and in reflexology points in our hands and irises, thus in nature. Stoneprint also demonstrates that the periodic table is a kind of natural 'culture', and that culture is a natural 'species' of behaviour. The structure in our works is as rigorous as grammar or DNA.
The books Mindprint, and Stoneprint, and editions of the structuralist anthropology periodical, Stoneprint Journal (some of which are available on, draw on extensive research in iconography, archaeology, history, esoterica, astronomy, art history and structuralist anthropology, spanning 26 years.
The core content of culture includes about 100 recurrent features of the sixteen main types, their sequence, five polar markers, and a time-frame orientation, that nature, individuals and societies subconsciously and compulsively express in all media. The mindprint or stoneprint model of structuralist anthropology has several major implications for all the human sciences, and offers a theoretical bases for a holistic approach to the study of the cultural record. Edmond Furter works as a freelance researcher and editor in Johannesburg.
Order the book Mindprint at $30, or the book Stoneprint at $30, or editions of Stoneprint Journal at $5, plus postage, on edmondfurter at gmail dot com; or Mindprint, or Stoneprint Journal editions on

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