General Characteristics of the Horse Depictions of Roucadour

Comparison of the horse images of Roucadour leads to the following observations (the numbering of each horse image includes the number of the panel followed by that of the figure in the panel).

1. They are depicted in absolute profile. Often the fore legs are both present whereas the hind legs are sometimes represented by a single limb. The limbs are always side by side, with no attempt at perspective.

2. The head is always small: it represents from 8 to 10 per cent of the total length of the animal; the exception is 14 per cent for horse XII-42 which is a little marginal in its proportions and the configuration of its head. (The length of wild Przewalski horse heads is between 16 and 22 per cent.).

Most of them display the 'duck-bill' convention, to use the abbe Breuil's formula (I-19, II-3, IV-7, IV-17, IV-15, IV-19, VII-1, XII-36)—that is to say, an elongated and fine head, whose extremity is curved downward like that of a duck bill: the lips are well developed and droop down.

However, a second minority type (IV-8, XII-5, X-2, XII-41, XII-43) displays a small elongated head which is not 'duck-bill' in shape but rather like a glove-finger directly prolonging the arch of the mane. The jaw is exceptionally well marked (VIII-1, IV-3).

Some heads are aberrant: the polychrome horse IV-1 possesses an elongated 'muzzle' that ends in a kind of hook or 'pincers' that represents an open mouth. The very original head of horse IV-15 surrounded by a strange double outline also doubtless depicts open jaws.

The eyes are sometimes engraved (I-19, IV-3, VII, XII-36). The eye of horse I-19 is very skilled, since for its pupil it integrates a particle of red pigment belonging to a negative hand just below. In many other cases, it is a natural feature, such as a hole in the wall, which serves as the eye (VII-1, XII-42) and sometimes the nostril (IV-16). The skill with which the engravers of Roucadour systematically used natural rock features, even the tiniest ones, is particularly astonishing. It doubtless contributes to the meaning of these parietal works.

3. The mane and neck generally have an exaggerated volume; the mane has the shape of a regular arch (IV-10, IV-8, IV-16, VII-1, VIII-1, X-2, XII-5, XII-36, XII-43). But sometimes it takes the shape of an asymmetrical arch with an expansion at the back (I-19, IV-7, IV-15, V-1).

4. The back and belly most often have an accentuated curvature. These are very curved backs and hanging bellies.

5. The tail is most often linear and simple, but sometimes more shaped and with a double line (IV-10, VII-1, VIII-1).

Fig. 11.4. Engraved horses of Roucadour cave: Panels IV, V, and VII

6. The legs are often neglected. absent or simply sketched (I-19, IV-3). In several notable cases, the legs are perfectly shaped and detailed (IV-16, VII-1, VIII-1, X-1), and even the hoofs are depicted (VIII-1, X-1). It should be noted that several animals have X-shaped legs, a convention that is frequently found during archaic phases of parietal art (III-3, IV-15, XII-41).

Fig. 11.5. Engraved horses of Roucadour cave: Panels VIII and X

7. The animals' coat is sometimes represented. The body of horse IV-1, painted in red, is covered with Wne hatchings which doubtless represent the coat. Its neck uses a brown patch on the wall which may suggest a neck that is darker than the body.

In one case (VII-1), an oblique line separates the neck from the rest of the body (noting the colour of the coat?) as can also be seen on the horses of Pech Merle.

Some of the arch-shaped manes have an upper outline that has multiple striations which doubtless depict the hair (I-19, III-3, VII-1).

Other horses have internal striations that are perpendicular to the arch of the mane, and which are also a schematic depiction of hairs (IV-1) or external perpendicular striations which have the same function (VII-1). The striations

perpendicular to the outline are found at the front of the neck (IV-1, VII-1). These striations, built up perpendicular to the outline, are also found on a bison in panel IV.

Finally, in Roucadour we encounter only one example of a detailed mane formed of clusters of oblique striations (XII-42) which makes this horse a very special case. However, one should note the total absence of depictions of the beard beneath the jaw, whereas the beard of bison is represented.

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