Indian Ratnagiri engravings reveal innate and imitated inspiration

The five layers of archetypal expression were confirmed in the recently discovered elegant rock art on India’s west coast. This finding supports the validity of the archetypal structuralist model of culture. The model predicts about 100 optional elements of the core content of cultural media, including art, icons, building sites and myths (Furter 2014, 2016). About 60% of the known optional elements are always present in a complex artwork; expressed by the characters; in a specific sequence along the outer edge; with their eyes on an axial grid, opposite specific counterparts; around certain markers indicating a historic time-frame. The features are simplistic, but their inter-dependent and spatial relationship makes the ‘blueprint’ of culture too complex to imitate or fake, thus culture is largely a subconscious behaviour.

India’s west coast in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur area of Maharashtra state, has 52 engraving sites on flat, reddish laterite bedrock hills of the Konkan coast. Similar engravings, some in deep relief, are 50 km southward, in the Sindhudurg district. The themes are mostly outlines of birds, sea and land animals, some humans, and geometric shapes, typical of rock art worldwide (Furter 2016 b). Some of the southern themes are identical to familiar icons associated with other cultures, such as a rampant eagle, winged scarab, staff god, lord of animals; prompting theories of diffusion either from Egypt and South America to India, or the other way around.

Early dynastic cylinder seals, stamps and other miniature artworks (see another post on this website) indicate that Mesopotamia, Persia, and the Harappan civilisation of the Indus valley shared a number of conventionalised icons (Furter 2018 c), some of which remained in Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek conventions and myth. Thus the archetypal structuralist model of subconscious expression indicates two sources of inspiration for the format and the content of Indian Konkan coast engravings; innate, and imitation. Both of these processes are active in every cultural expression.

There are too many detailed similarities with the underlying universal model to have been directly copied; and too many detailed similarities with conventionalised icons in some other cultures, to have arisen locally. Moreover, some foreign species are pictured; and some typically Indian religious art conventions seem absent, such as the churn, and avatars. India’s west coast was a trade destination for Middle Eastern civilisations for millennia, indicating a possible source of integration, or synchretism, by one or two local or visiting artists. Some rock artists are prolific.

Some of the bedrock pavements may have been initiation sites, but initiation engravings typically contain novice art, repetition of a few themes, and clothing or decoration items.

Amateur historians led by Sudhir Risbood and Manoj Marathe, have uncovered many of the engravings under thin soil and grass. About 60 Sindhudurg engravings were found in two villages by Satish Lalit and others. Researcher Bibhu Dev Misra noted “sacred symbols found in the art and culture of many civilisations,” in a post on in April 2019.

Elephant engraving on bedrock at Ratnagiri, India, is a basket of mysteries

The general subconscious theme in the Ratnagiri elephant ‘tattoo’ engraving, is indicated by extra features of the four half-types or c-types. These are 2c Basket, typical of woven textures (here the seven outline ‘clamps’ of nested curves, perhaps oracular as a kind of game-board); 9c Basket Lid, of discs (here the large outline, and spirals, and ‘eye-discs’ or ‘palettes’); 5c Basket Tail (here tail of the elephant, buffalo, and outline); and 13c Basket Head (here the elephant’s head, a pig?, and an eye-disc. Types 2c and 9c are expressed at the top centre and bottom centre of the work, in large ‘slices’ in the subconscious axial grid. The four transitional types are off the axial grid, but in four sectors between specific axes.

Indian Konkan west coast elephant pavement engraving at Ratnagiri (after Bibhu Dev Misra. Typology and axial grid by ED Furter).

Type Label; Character (archetypal features):

01 Builder; ?

01 BuilderB; Rhino (bovid).

02 Builder; Dolphin?, antithetical with another dolphin (cluster).

02c Basket; Corner ‘clamp’ (weave, instrument?), on the elephant’s back. One of seven, perhaps ‘chakras’. C-types are off the grid.

03 Queen; Fox?, with tail ring? (dragon?).

04 King; Fox? And eagle? (bird). And fox? (twins).

05a Priest; Eye-disc A, in elephant’s large tail (tailcoat head, large).

05c Tail; Bovid’s erect tail (tail). And elephant’s tail (tail). And outline tail (tail).

06 Exile; Bird climbing, far from the centre (egress).

07 Child; Buffalo?, with young (juvenile) behind its head.

08 Healer; Buffalo? Newborn? (juvenile, of 7) emerging from 7 (unfold, of 7).

08 HealerB; Fox? (canid).

09 Healer; Water-bird? Leaning (bent forward).

09c Lid; Shark composite (weave). Mud? Fox? under a loop (disc?). Elephant trunk (arm-link). Kangaroo (leg-link).

10 Teacher; Pony?

11 Womb; Pony’s midriff (womb).

12 Heart; Elephant.

13c Head; Elephant head (head). Pig? Eye-disc A (head?). C-types are off the grid, but between specific axes.

14 Mixer; Fox? And fox? (canid).

15 Maker; Dolphin or seal (canid). And human (maker, smiter) in profile.

Indian Konkan coast engraving detail of man and dolphin or seal as type 15 (image after Bibhu Dev Misra, typology test by ED Furter 2019).

Typology is uncertain due to some ambiguous outlines. Axis 1v8 may instead express an extra axis 15v7, since 8 is apparently juvenile, and ‘unfolding’ from the larger animal’s head, which are both typical features of type 7.

Central or polar features are analogous to cosmology, since artworks, building sites, and space-time all express aspects of archetype. These features are not on eyes, but on limb-joints or junctures:

00 Axial centre; Unmarked as usual. Analogous to the ecliptic pole.

04p ‘Galactic South Pole’; Eye-disc B’s edge (juncture).

11p ‘Galactic Pole’; Fox? jaw (limb-joint). And outline ‘clamp’ or ‘chakra’ on elephant chest. Chakras are analogous to planets, but not in the sense of a star map.

Midsummer; Triangle (juncture). Midwinter; Bird beak (limb-joint, here apparently damaged). The two seasonal markers are near the horizontal plane of the work. They place midsummer between Leo and Cancer, thus spring and the cultural time-frame in Age Taurus-Aries, confirmed by the top central position of the transitional type 2c, and the general subconscious theme in the work. This time-frame is analogous to about BC 1700, but polar markers usually express the era before the artist and the work, at the perceived formation of the artist’s culture. Thus polar markers could not resolve the uncertain dating of the work. However the subconscious time-frame does not support the tentative dating of ‘BC 10 000’, but could rather support a dating of about BC 1700 or later.

Structuralist features of expression are universal, and subconscious to artists, architects, builders, crafters and members of any culture.

Indian west coast global icons puzzle

Local archaeologists tentatively date these engravings to about BC 10 000 (Director of Maharashtra State Archaeology Department, Tejas Garge). The style is associated with Middle Stone Age tools, as found near engravings in Kasheli village in Ratnagiri. The era is after the Ice Age and the ‘cold snap’, however other scientists date the end of the Younger Dryas later, about BC 7000, when Anatolian and Middle Eastern survivors moved down from the Zagros and Anti-Taurus ranges to the foothills (see other posts on Gobekli Tepe, and on archaeo-astronomy, on this webiste, and on

Winged scarab

A winged scarab beetle is among the engravings on the Indian west coast, as in the ancient Egyptian symbol of creation and rebirth, Khepri, Coming into Being, or dawn sun. Dung beeltes push their balls with eggs backward, perhaps a semi-conscious symbol of the solstices slowly moving backward through the ages, due to precession of the four seasonal points. The symbol of regeneration is conscious, while the popularity and perpetuation of the icon is probably subconscious. Khepri appears in Egyptian tomb paintings, carvings and manuscripts, particularly popular as an amulet since the Middle Kingdom, BC 2055 -1650. See scarabs in Chinese rock art in the Tien Shan range, in Mindprint (Furter 2014), and in another post on this site or one of the three related sites (mindprintart.wordpress, or edmondfurter.wordpress).

Archetypal structuralist analyses have identified dung beetle icons as type 14 Mixer, expressed by characters with optional features that appear at specific average frequencies: ingress/egress 43%, time 28%, tree 20%, angel 15%, bird 11%, antelope 10%, felid 8%, dancer 8%, reptile 4%, fish 4%, canid 4%. Average frequencies arising among artists disconnected by place, time and culture, indicates one of the synchronistic functions of the universal subconscious, rooted in nature. Thus culture is largely innate, leaving a thin layer of optional stylisation for conscious impulses.

Master of Animals, staff god, or creator

Another Ratnagiri engraving shows a man holding two animals by their hind legs, a symbolic motif in ancient art known as Master of Animals, Tamer, or Hunt Master, implying dominance and protection at the same time. The motif was popular in Mesopotamian art, used since the Uruk Period, typically of a hero taming lions. It was also conventionalised in Egypt, as in the Gebel el-Arak ivory knife handle of BC 3450 (see archetypes in seals and miniature works in another post), of pre-dynastic Naqada II culture. A Mistress of Animals (Potnia Theron) is known in Minoan, Mycenaean, Greek and Etruscan art, often with wings, noted Bibhu Dev Misra. This icon expresses type 10 Teacher, identifying itself by arms up in a W-posture or V-posture, with a staff, guard, metal, market, disc, council, snake, ecology, school, carousel, or canid, at specif acverage frequencies: W-shape 44% (arm/s 28%), staff 36%, huntmaster 24%, guard 20%, metal 14%, market 14%, disc 12%, council 11%, snake 8%, ecology 8%, school 6%, carousel 4%, canid 4%.

Artemis expresses this icon in some artworks. In the Ratnagiri engraving, the man grasps two animals, perhaps tigers, as on several Indus Valley seals from BC 2600 (see Stoneprint Journal 5), and in some BC 1900 steatite seals of Mohenjo-daro. Similar icons in Mexico could be entirely archetypal, or could have been adopted from one or two contacts, due to its strongly archetypal nature.

A man holding staffs in both hands, appears in a relief engraving at Sindhudurg. In Andean cultures, he has fanged teeth, and snakes in his hat or clothes (see the features listed above).

Pictures of Pisces and Aquarius

Another Ratnagiri engraving shows a pair of fish facing opposite directions, connected by a string, as in the Western Pisces constellation and glyph -)(-. Pisces appears on an Egyptian coffin lid of BC 2300. Bibhu Dev Misra noticed that another petroglyph resembles mythical Aquarius; a man holding a jug or object above his head with both hands, flanked by two fish on the left, and another pair of fish near his leg on the right, perhaps Piscis Austrinus, Southern Fish. However Aquarius expresses archetype 5 (archetypes do not express myths, gods or constellations). Type 5a /5b Priest identifies itself by these features and average frequencies; varicoloured 37%, priest 34%, hyperactive 33%, tail-coat head 32%, assembly 30%, horizontal 28%, water 24%, heart 24%, large 24%, bovid 20%, reptile 10%, winged 14%, invert 12%, sash 8%, judgement 8%, weapon of 12/13 opposite 7%, felid of 12/13 opposite, equid, ascend.

Foreign animals

There are several foreign animals in the Ratnagiri engravings; a hippopotamus of Africa, and a kangaroo of Australia. Bibhu Dev Misra notes Tamil traditions of a pre-flood island-continent, Kumari Kandam, in the Indian Ocean [Australia? Madagascar? or just part of India’s west coast?], “swallowed by the sea”. N Mahalingam, chairman of the International Association of Tamil Studies, dated this flood to BC 9564, near the end of the Younger Dryas cold snap. However every culture has a flood myth; and is aware of flood myths in other cultures; and occasional real floods are always conflated with archetypal features. Some events are archetypal, and all archetypes find expressions in several media.

Eagle rampant

One Sindhudurg engraving resembles an Imperial Eagle, used by many tribes and nations. In myth, a golden eagle was Zeus’s messenger and totem. In India and South-east Asia, sun bird Garuda was the eagle mount of supreme Lord Vishnu, preserver of created order. Type 14 Mixer, and type 15 Maker, share this icon, which may also express one of the poles. Inherent optionality has camouflaged the rigorous ‘rules’ of the core content of culture for millennia. The blueprint in our subconscious behaviour was raised to conscious demonstration and underststanding for the first time in the book Mindprint (Furter 2014), and since developed in several publications (see some of the References below).

See extracts from the theoretical background, and more examples of subconscious archetypal structure in cultural media, in other posts, and on


De Santillana G. and Von Deschend, H. (1969) Hamlet’s Mill: An essay on myth and the frame of time. Boston, Gambit

Furter, E. D. (2014) Mindprint, the subconscious art code. USA,

Furter, E. D. (2015a) Gobekli Tepe, between rock art and art. Rock art Where, When, to Whom. Anati, E. Italy, Atelier Etno

Furter, E. D. (2015b) Art is magic. Expression 10, Dec. Italy, Atelier Etno

Furter, E. D. (2015c) Mindprint in mushroom psilocybin, peyote mescaline, sugar, and chocolate art.

Furter, E. D. (2015d) Mindprint in San Francisco public art, and more examples.

Furter, E. D. (2015e) Rock art expresses cultural structure. Expression 9. Italy, Atelier Etno

Furter, E. D. (2015f) Structuralist rock art analysis. Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA), Harare, 2015 conference. Zimbabwe, University of Zimbabwe, in press 2019

Furter, E. D. (2016b) Colonial artists re-style the same characters. Expression 14, Italy, Atelier Etno

Furter, E. D. (2016a) Stoneprint, the human code in art, buildings and cities. Johannesburg, Four Equators Media

Furter, E. 2016 b. Abstract signs in art as shorthand for cultural structure. Ed. Anati, E. Meaning of abstract signs. Atelier Etno, Italy

Furter, E. D. (2017a) Pregnant is the most consistent typological gender. Expression 15, Italy Atelier Etno

Furter, E. D. (2017b) Recurrent characters in rock art reveal objective meaning. Expression 16, June. The message behind the image. Italy, Atelier Etno

Furter, E. D. (2017c) Stoneprint tour of Paris. Stoneprint Journal 3. USA,

Furter, E. D. (2018a) Babylonian Plough List decans.

Furter, E. D. (2018b) Stoneprint tour of London. Stoneprint Journal 4. USA,

Furter, E. D. (2018c) Culture code in seals and ring stamps. Stoneprint Journal 5. USA,

Jung, C. G. (1912 /1952. Symbols of Transformation. Collected Works Vol 5, transl R Hull, Ed; Herbert Reed, M Fordham, G Adler; Ed. McGuire. Bollinger Series XX, 20 volumes; Routledge & Kegan Paul; 1953-1979

Jung, C. G. (1936. 1959) Concept of the collective unconscious. Analytical Psychology Club of New York

Jung, C. G. (1950) Synchronicity; an a-causal connecting principle. Collected Works Vol. 8, Bollingen Foundation, Princeton Univ Press

Levi-Strauss, C. (1973) From honey to ashes. Harper & Row

Neugebauer, O. and Parker, R. (1969) Egyptian astronomical texts 3; Decans, planets, constellations and zodiacs. USA, Brown University Press

Parry, E. (2012) Rock art of the Matopo hills. Bulawayo, Amabooks

Schulberg, L. (1968) Historic India. Time-Life

Tresidder, J. (1997. 1999) Watkins dictionary of symbols. London, Watkins

Wylie, A. (1989) Archaeological cables and tacking: the implications of practice for Bernstein’s options, beyond objectivism and relativism. Philosophy of Social Sciences 19(1), March, 1-18

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