Certainly, the phrase "rock art" is a misnomer. The ancient imagery is not "art" in the sense that contemporary Western culture considers it. Petro-pictography ("rock-picture-writing"), paleography, or even epigraphy might be more correct. Whatever one calls these signifiers, they certainly are not art for art's sake. Instead they are a form of writing with its own idiosyncratic grammar and usage. For instance, the Hopi word tutuveni refers to petroglyphs (rock carvings) or pictographs (rock paintings); however, the same word also denotes books, magazines, newspapers, or any written material. This dual designation clearly puts the form of communication in the same conceptual realm as the Egyptian or Mayan hieroglyph and the Chinese ideogram.
"In most works concerned with these mysterious markings, the term rock writing is seldom applied to them, in spite of the fact that this is the very term the Indians themselves have always used, and would thus seem to be the most appropriate one.... This omission is due largely to the fact that most scholars have never accepted the premise that these markings were indeed writing. The existence in the languages of many Indian tribes of a word for writing (in the sense of recording information for others to read) proves, at least that picture writing was long accepted as writing by the Indian. And who but the American Indian himself is more qualified to say whether it is or is not?"
LaVan Martineau,The Rocks Begin to Speak (Las Vegas: KC Publications, Inc. 1994,1973). [www.lavanmartineau.com]
"Recent theories for the study of rock art and other archaeological materials have emphasized the roles played by context and symbolism. It has been proposed that symbols such as rock art images are most likely to be meaningful when examined within the contexts of time, place, culture, and society [my italics] and with the knowledge that symbolism is part of information exchange, communication systems, and acts to express and reinforce group identities."
Sally Cole,Legacy On Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region (Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books, 1995, 1990)
"These images pecked into or painted on stone are a valuable component of the archaeological record-- graphic images that often derive from the various aspects of prehistoric cosmologies and mythic systems. Some prehistoric ideologies of the Southwest have been carried into the ethnographic present by the modern descendants of the prehistoric peoples, but other such systems, with the exception of what can be learned through the visual imagery of the petroglyphs and rock paintings, have been almost totally lost. Rock art, then, is an important means of reaching some understanding of the sacred dimension and certain related practices of the prehistoric period."
Polly SchaafsmaIndian, Rock Art of the Southwest(Santa Fe: School of American Research, 1995, 1980)
You write: "You should distinguish between genetic migration and cultural diffusion. And between poetry and fact." Edmond, I don't mean to be obtuse. But please explain to me how a migratory group could bring its genes without bringing its culture? The Dineh (Navajo), for instance, a nomadic tribe with specific ceremonial practices migrated into the Southwest after circa 1300 AD, bringing its repertoire of cultural idiosyncrasies to the agrarian Ancestral Puebloans (i.e, the Hopi et al.).
"If Hopi and Zuni kachina characters “come from the sky”, then so do clan totems and minor gods everywhere, but they don't. Some major gods mirror planets, but their set is exclusive, and too small to express the full cycle of archetype. Discovery of invisible planets did not change any pantheons."
In the Hopi pantheon there is no god other than Taawa (sun) that is more important and more primary than Sotuknang, the sky god. Hopi drawing: [www.dropbox.com] Also, his mask: [www.dropbox.com]
Then there is Chasing Star katsina: [www.dropbox.com]
And the plain Star Katsina, with Orion's belt on the crest. [www.dropbox.com]
"Even cosmology (direction, orientation) is independent of the sky. Orientation does not come from the sky, but equally "from" earth." The Hopi directional system hinges upon the solstice sunrise and sunsets points. [www.as.wvu.edu]
"Please do not quote poets as if they were anthropologists... If you confuse the praxis of craft and science, you are not doing culture, or science, any favours." In your goal to promote your structuralist paradigm, you are attempting to achieve some sort of unattainable "scientific" purity, even though most scientists will look askance at your writing, I would think. And, by the way, I unabashedly quotes poets. The late American poet Charles Olson wrote of how Pindar said, “‘Poesy / steals away men’s judgment / by her muthos’ [myth][...] / ‘and a blind heart / is most men’s portions.’ Plato / allowed this divisive / thought to stand, agreeing / that muthos / is false. Logos / isn’t-- was facts." So this division that survives to this day of Logos and its heir science as true, Muthos and its heir poetry as false.
The Cape Town kachina type troupes seem similar to the Hopi clowns, of various types, but serve as a foil for the staid, and stately katsinam. The former are caricatures, satires of pahanas (whites) mostly.