"Newspaper Rock" - Canyon de Chelly, AZWell then.. back from my 1800 mile road trip to the Navajo country of Northeast Arizona, and a bit of time off from the city, work and computers. This time I specifically wanted to photograph some of the wonderful cliff dwellings and rock art that are found all through this area, along with the incredible landscapes in and around the canyons. It'll take me some time to sort and process all the new material, but this one is a relatively straightforward shot of what is essentially an ancient form of blog.
Humans have been living here in Canyon de Chelly (pronounced d'SHAY, a Spanish corruption of the Navajo word "Tsegi" meaning canyon) for 5000 years. The Navajo people now own this land, but they are just the most recent inhabitants and all the various peoples before them are referred to by the generic term "Anasazi", meaning Ancient Ones, who apparently left here around 1300 A.D. and were followed first by the Hopi and then the Navajo.
Primitive rock art is divided into two types: pictographs, which are painted on with natural pigments... and petroglyphs, which are scratched or etched into the rock. Over the ages, various residents have embellished the walls of their home area with the symbolic art depicted here, each group having different techniques and styles to tell their stories. Some are fairly obvious in their meaning (notice the Spanish Conquistador-looking characters etched more lightly in the upper center area-they are a common subject and I have another really fantastic location for that later), some are not. What appear to be bullet holes in the rock are probably the work of some fairly recent vandal. My Navajo guide was explaining some of the symbols to me but I didn't really have time to take notes since I was busy trying to get as much work done as possible at each location while listening.
Some of the best Anasazi cliff dwellings in the Southwest are located here in this canyon, so I hope to have some interesting shots from my time photographing these, as well as more interesting facts and stories about the area which I will get into to accompany new images as I get to them.
My pictures are never pre-visialized or planned. I feel strongly that pictures must come from contact with things at the time and place of taking. At such times, I rely on intuitive, perceptual responses to guide me, using reason only after the final print is made to accept or reject the results of my work.
- Wynn Bullock