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History of erotic depictions
African Art: History, Characteristics
Prints became very popular in Europe from the middle of the fifteenth century, and because of their compact nature, were very suitable for erotic depictions that did not need to be permanently on display. Nudity and the revival of classical subjects were associated from very early on in history of the print, and many prints of subjects from mythological subjects were clearly in part an excuse for erotic material; the engravings of Giovanni Battista Palumba in particular. An earthier eroticism is seen in a printing plate of for an Allegory of Copulation where a young couple are having sex, with the woman's legs high in the air, at one end of a bench, while at the other end a huge penis, with legs and wings and a bell tied around the bottom of the glans, is climbing onto the bench. Although the plate has been used until worn out, then re-engraved and heavily used again, none of the contemporary impressions printed, which probably ran into the hundreds, have survived. In particular Leda and the Swan , where the god appeared as a swan and seduced the woman, was depicted very explicitly; it seems that this—rather strangely—was considered more acceptable because he appeared as a bird. Michelangelo's Leda was a fairly large painting showing sex in progress, and one of the hundreds of illustrations to the book the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili of shows Leda and the Swan having sex on top of a triumphal car watched by a crowd. Raimondi was subsequently imprisoned by the Pope Clement VII and all copies of the illustrations were destroyed.
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For a guide to symbols used at Blombos, please see: Bushmen are the oldest known natives of South Africa, although exactly when they appeared, and how far their history dates back, remains a mystery. It is not even certain if it was their ancestors who were responsible for the pictographs and petroglyphs which have been found at various prehistoric sites in the country. The Bushmen were driven back into the desert areas, not only by the white man, but also by the Hottentot invaders.