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Paleolithic

THE HANDS IN PREHISTORY / LE MANI NELLA PREISTORIA

Lasciare l’impronta della propria mano è un gesto antichissimo ripetutosi in ogni epoca e in ogni continente, sulle rocce alla luce del sole come nelle grotte nell’oscurità più profonda; attraverso il colore o per mezzo dell’incisione, con la mano aperta o semichiusa, dagli adulti e dai bambini, dalle donne e dagli uomini. Ma cosa ciò significava esattamente ancora non è chiaro. Certamente si trattava di un’interazione tra la persona e il supporto dove posava la mano, ma è ancora più probabile che il suo significato sia mutato nel tempo,e differendo da contesto a contesto. Segnalo alcuni articoli e immagini degni di nota sull’argomento, cui uno in particolare riguarda la determinazione sessuale delle impronte.

Camille Lamotte fa una disamina sulle diverse interpretazioni trattando delle impronte scoperte in Borneo nella Grotta Gua Masri II, sul Journal du CNRS. Ma parla anche dello studio di Jean-Michel Chazine il quale ha messo a punto un nuovo software, Kalimain, in collaborazione con  Arnaud Noury, per determinare il sesso delle mani dipinte in negativo nelle grotte preistoriche.  <<Tutto inizia nel Dicembre 2004, quando i ricercatori Kevin Sharpe e Leslie Van Gelder, specialisti di tracciati digitali, affermano la possibilità di determinare il sesso di certe mani in negativo grazie all’indice di Manning, secondo il quale il rapporto tra la lunghezza dell’indice e l’anulare sarebbe rappresentativo dell’identità sessuale di tutti gli individui. Nei primi mesi della vita fetale alcuni ormoni influenzerebbero lo sviluppo dei queste due dita. Gli estrogeni per la crescita dell’indice e il testosterone per quella dell’anulare. Tale scarto medio tra uomini e donne si verificherebbe costantemente.>>

Anche se un po’ datato, questo post tratta delle famose impronte di Grotta delle Mani in Patagonia (Cueva de las Manos, provincia di Santa Cruz, Argentina)., delle quali si può leggere un articolo interessante di Rafael S. Paunero. Quasi tutte sono in rosso (ematite), bianche (roccia calcarea), nere (manganese o carbone) e gialle (limonite, ocra gialla).

Invece le impronte note in Italia sono a Grotta Paglicci, Grotta dei Cervi e Grotta Cosma (tutte in Puglia).   Gianfranco e Giovanni Purpura segnalano la presenza di altre impronte,  scoperte già anni fà ma non rese note, a Grotta Perciata e Grotta dell’Acqua in Sicila (Mondello, Palermo).

Se nella forma delle mani si può leggere  il sesso e l’età dell’individuo, la difficoltà dell’esecuzione, la posizione in cui ci si doveva mettere per eseguire il disegno e la destinazione topografica del gesto potrebbero aggiungere qualcosa di più. Tuttavia le amputazioni delle dita (o quelle che si ritengono tali) sono l’aspetto più misterioso nella pratica delle impronte. Le mani “amputate” più famose del Paleolitico europeo sono quelle di Gargas (Ariège, Francia). Per la tipicità, quasi tutte mancanti di dita e falangi, potrebbero offrirci dei risultati più che deduttivi riguardo la loro caratteristica.

Dal tipo di taglio delle falangi si può risalire all’origine della menomazione: se la forma dell’impronta manifesta un taglio netto, conseguenza di una volontaria amputazione, oppure una terminazione accidentale causata da un evento involontario come un congelamento, una malattia, un incidente. Inoltre, la possibilità di capire se le mani amputate di Gargas sono di ogni sesso ed età, aiuta a sperare in ulteriori considerazioni. Come spiega L.R. Nougier in “Les grotte prehistoriques ornée de France, d’Espagne et Italie”, 1990 (Balland) Paris a pag. 157-158, le anomalie delle mani di Gargas sono eccessive perché siano interpretate come il riflesso di un linguaggio dei segni.

Personalmente aggiungo che, almeno  per questa grotta,  l’amputazione rituale è da mettere in dubbio, specie se relazionata alla pratica del dolore per il raggiungimento della transe.  In tal caso non avrebbe senso la presenza di mani infantili. Una teoria del dolore fisico inferto per la transe non trova sostegno in presenza di mani di bebè o fanciulli. Non vedo la necessità e il senso di una transe in così tenera età, tanto meno l’applicazione di un eventuale linguaggio dei segni col fine della numerazione o della ideazione simbolica.

Nel caso di Gargas è possibile pensare a un luogo terapeutico dove le argille permettevano una cura alle amputazioni involontarie, derivate da malattie o congelamento. Nougier faceva notare proprio questo, dicendo che vi sono casi di impronte di mani affondate nell’argilla da riportare eventualmente a una pratica farmacologica, come mettere una mano dentro una pomata lenitiva.

Direi che bisogna porre un’attenzione specifica sugli aspetti pratici e ideologici del bisogno curativo, specialmente per capire determinati aspetti del Paleolitico. In ogni caso la presenza delle mani è sempre una trasmissione densa di significato. Attraverso il contatto con il supporto, col disegno vicino, con la forma della parete, la mano prendeva qualcosa e lasciava qualcos’altro, stabilendo così una trasmissione fra le parti. Anche i gesti terapeutici di Gargas, se tali furono, sono al contempo un lascito rituale e un desiderio di permanenza.

MARIA LAURA LEONE

(Gennaio 2010)

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