We're privileged to join the researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia in their last public heritage walk at Gua Tambun for the year. The site is located just over 7 km from Ipoh Old Town. It seems like an odd place, situated in the midst of some residential houses and a polo club with horses grazing in the field. The hill looks like just any other limestone hills in Ipoh. What made this place special was the discovery of hundreds of ancient paintings and drawings dated 4,000 - 2,500 years ago, known as Tambun Rock Art. The rock art was first reported in 1959 and later in 1984.
A steep, almost upright steps leading to the Tambun rock art site.
The view from Gua Tambun, situated in Gunung Panjang limestone hill. The rock art site survives the modern times in Ipoh, and seems oblivious to the fact that it was once a sacred site for local spiritual ceremonies. The hill also survives blasting by the quarry operators. The researchers were quick to point out to us a part of hill which was marred by the quarrying activities.
The site looked unkempt, with signs of graffiti and illegal clearing. Still a lot, a lot of work needs to be done to raise the awareness, understanding and appreciation for Tambun Rock Art.
Many paintings waiting for intepretation...
A dugong or tadpole?? An extinct animal or catfish??
A herd of deers? Can you spot a pregnant doe?
Rock Art hunting.....
...is a 'breakneck' feat!
Claws beside the crack??
The rock art is facing west, away from the direct heat of the sun. Perhaps that's why they could survive for so long. But as the illegal clearing becomes rampant, we may lose the ancient heritage too.
The drawings were very high up on the wall. How did the ancient people get up there?
Hanging stalactites add mystery to the site.
Haematite drawing by the cave boys!
Does this look like the head of Abe from Mount Rushmore?
Natural supply of haematite paint. Last for thousands of years. Better than those chemical paint in the market.
Glowing, rich vegetation in the cool, damp cave.
The guardian angel of the cave!
Few loyal, strong guard dogs to safeguard the ancient rock art. They have dutifully escorted us for the entire visit.