He is fond of dancing; besides the ordinary dances are the special dances at certain stages of the moon, etc. One of the most interesting facts about the Bushman is his possession of a remarkable delight in graphic illustration; the rocks of the mountains of Cape Colony and of the Drakensberg and the walls of caves anciently inhabited by them have many examples of Bushman drawings of men, women, children and animals characteristically sketched. Their designs are partly painted on rock, with four colours, white, black, red and yellow ochre, partly engraved in soft sandstone, partly chiselled in hard stone. Rings, crosses and other signs drawn in blue pigment on some of the rocks, and believed to be one or two centuries old, have given rise to the erroneous speculation that these may be remains of a hieroglyphic writing. A discovery of drawings of men and women with antelope heads was made in the recesses of the Drakensberg in 1873 (J.M. Orpen in Cape Monthly Magazine, July 1874). A few years later Selous discovered similar rock-paintings in Mashonaland and Manicaland.
Little is known of the family life of the Bushmen. Marriage is a matter merely of offer and acceptance ratified by a feast. Among some tribes the youth must prove himself an expert hunter. Nothing is known of the laws of inheritance. The avoidance of parents-in-law, so marked among Kaffirs, is found among Bushmen. Murder, adultery, rape and robbery are offences against their code of morals. As among other African tribes the social position of the women is low. They are beasts of burden, carrying the children and the family property on the journeys, and doing all the work at the halting-place. It is their duty also to keep the encampment supplied with water, no matter how far it has to be carried. The Bushman mother is devoted to her children, who, though suckled for a long time, yet are fed within the first few days after birth upon chewed roots and meat, and taught to chew tobacco at a very early age. The child's head is often protected from the sun by a plaited shade of ostrich feathers. There is practically no tribal organization. Individual families at times join together and appoint a chief, but the arrangement is never more than temporary. The Bushmen have no concrete idea of a God, but believe in evil spirits and supernatural interference with man's life.
All Bushmen carry amulets, and there are indications of totemism in their refusal to eat certain foods. Thus one group will not eat goat's flesh, though the animal is the commonest in their district. Others reverence antelopes or even the caterpillar N'gwa. The Bushman cuts off the joints of the fingers as a sign of mourning and sometimes, it seems, as an act of repentance. Traces of a belief in continued existence after death are seen in the cairns of stone thrown on the graves of chiefs. Evil spirits are supposed to hide beneath these sepulchral mounds, and the Bushman thinks that if he does not throw his stone on the mounds the spirits will twist his neck. The whole family deserts the place where any one has died, after raising a pile of stones. The corpse's head is anointed, then it is smoke-dried and laid in the grave at full length, stones or earth being piled on it. There is a Bushman belief that the sun will rise later if the dead are not buried with their faces to the east. Weapons and other Bushman treasures are buried with the dead, and the hut materials are burnt in the grave.
The Bushmen have many animal myths, and a rich store of beast legends. The most prominent of the animal mythological figures is that of the mantis, around which a great cycle of myths has been formed. He and his wife have many names. Their adopted daughter is the porcupine. In the family history an ichneumon, an elephant, a monkey and an eland all figure. The Bushmen have also solar and lunar myths, and observe and name the stars. Canopus alone has five names. Some of the constellations have figurative names. Thus they call Orion's Belt "three she-tortoises hanging on a stick," and Castor and Pollux "the cow-elands." The planets, too, have their names and myths, and some idea of the astonishing wealth of this Bushman folklore and oral literature may be formed from the fact that the materials collected by Bleek and preserved in Sir George Grey's library at Cape Town form eighty-four stout MS. volumes of 3600 pages. They comprise myths, fables, legends and even poetry, with tales about the sun and moon, the stars, the crocodile and other animals; legends of peoples who dwelt in the land before the Bushmen arrived from the north; songs, charms, and even prayers, or at least incantations; histories, adventures of men and animals; tribal customs, traditions, superstitions and genealogies.
A most curious feature in Bushman folklore is the occurrence of the speeches of various animals, into which the relater of the legend introduces particular "clicks," supposed to be characteristic of the animals in whose mouths they are placed.
See G.W. Stow, The Native Races of South Africa (London, 1905); Mark Hutchinson, "Bushman Drawings," in Jour. Anthrop. Instit., 1882, p. 464; Sir H.H. Johnston, Jour. Anthrop. Inst., 1883, p. 463; Dr H. Welcker, Archiv f. Anthrop. xvi.; G. Bertin, "The Bushmen and their Language," Jour. R. Asial. Soc. xviii. part i.; Gustav Fritsch, Die Eingeborenen Südafrikas (Breslau, 1872); W.H.I. Bleek, Bushman Folklore (1875); J.L.P. Erasmus, The Wild Bushman, MS. note (1899); F.C. Selous, African Nature Notes and Reminiscences (1908), chap. xx.; S. Passarge, Die Buschmanner der Kalahari (Berlin, 1907).