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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gua Tambun, Perak, Malaysia

Gua Tambun ( Tambun Cave) is one of another interesting place. The caves bear 2,000-year-old paintings dating back to the Neolithic era depicting the life of early inhabitants of the peninsula. For such a significant historical site, it has been ashamedly left obscure and relatively hard to locate. To get to the cave, you will need a good pair of walking shoes and have to climb a flight of relatively steep concrete 141 steps overgrown with weeds and leaves. A smooth limestone cliff overhangs the ledge. 
On this white stone, 20 feet or more above the ledge, are a number of paintings of wildlife, people and abstract designs. Gua Tambun is believed to be one of the caves in Malaysia with hematite (iron oxide) drawings. Discovered by Lt. R.L Rawlings of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Q.E.O Gurkha Rifles in 1959 while on a routine patrol in the area, he unearthed one of the greatest finds in Malaysian History.
There are 30 forms of paintings on the wall, which include human, abstract and animal designs depicting their surroundings. A few of them were about 3m across. The paint is dark purple, in others, dull red. Some of the figures are obviously men, rather crudely drawn. Some of the animals are easily identified,others are rather vague.  
But most of the paintings are quite clear; there are wild boars and a dugong, a tapir and some deer. The deer are particularly interesting, they all have the appearance of pregnant does, and one even has a small infant drawn inside its swollen belly! At one time, this gallery of pictures extended for more than a hundred feet, but time and the weather have obliterated a large portion of it.
However, enough remains to prove that at one time men living in Lembah Kinta, although primitive, were able to illustrate their lives rather vividly. Intriguing enough, there are even seashells found at the base of the 'cave', signifying that the area was once, in all probability filled with and surrounded by sea water, but this would have been thousands of years ago. The cave also contained some Neolithic artifacts but have since been removed. 

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