Cueva de las Manos (Spanish for Cave of the Hands) is a cave located in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina, 163 km south from the town of Perito Moreno, within the borders of the Francisco P. Moreno National Park, which includes many sites of archaeological and paleontogical importance.
The Cave lies in the valley of the Pinturas River, in an isolated spot in the Patagonian landscape, some 100km from the main road, Route 40. It is famous (and gets its name) for the paintings of hands, made by the indigenous inhabitants (possibly forefathers of the Tehuelches) between 13,000 and 9,300 years ago. The composition of the inks is mineral, so the age of the paintings was calculated from the rests of bone-made pipes used for spraying the paint on the wall blocked by the hand.
The main cave measures 24 m in depth, with an entrance 15 m wide, and it is initially 10 m high. The ground inside the cave has an upward slope; inside the cave the height is reduced to no more than 2 m.
The images of hands are often negative (stencilled). Besides these there are also depictions of human beings, guanacos, rheas, felines and other animals, as well as geometric shapes, zigzag patterns, representations of the sun, and hunting scenes. Similar paintings, though in smaller numbers, can be found in nearby caves. There are also red dots on the ceilings, probably made by submerging their hunting boleadoras in ink, and then throwing them up. The colours of the paintings vary from red (made from hematite) to white, black or yellow.
Most of the hands are left hands, which suggests that painters held the spraying pipe with their dexterous hand. The size of the hands resembles that of a 13 year old boy, but considering they were probably smaller in size, it is speculated that they could be a few years older, and marked their advancement into manhood by stamping their hands on the walls of this sacred cave.Here at the House of the Serpents there is a cave of hands where guests, who want to mark their creative advancement, stamp their hand into the walls, leaving an imprint, a handprint that will guide subsequent travellers and act as a beacon of encouragement to those who follow.
Make an imprint of your hand. On each finger write something that you have learned about creativity during this journey. Hang it on the wall here in the House of the Serpents. These handprints will be transferred to the Cave of the Creative Hands at Soul Food.