The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Chongoni Rock-Art Area - Malawi

Map showing the location of the Chongoni Rock-Art Area UNESCO world heritage site (near Dedza, Malawi)

Website Category: Rock-art and Pre-history

 Area:126 km2 

Inscribed: 2006

Criteria: (iii)  cultural tradition (vi)  association with belief system

Location and Values:  The Chongoni Rock Art Area is located on the southern Africa plateau about 80 km south-east of Lilongwe near the town of Dedza.  It is an area of forested hills with numerous granite outcrops and kopjes, protected as Forest Reserves.  Within the hills, 127 rock shelters have been used for rock art, creating the richest concentration of such art in central Africa.  Unusually, it is the work of farming communities, and part of a still-thriving tradition.

Most of the paintings were made during the past 1,000 years, following the migration of Chewa agriculturalists to the area.  They introduced painting with white clay, where the previous inhabitants, Batwa hunter-gatherers, had a tradition of painting in red.  Their images are particularly associated with women’s initiation, rain-making and funerary rites, traditions that persist in Chewa society to this day.  In recent decades, the symbolism of the rock art has served an important role in a Chewa secret society, Nyau. 

Slideshow of the Chongoni Rock-Art Area:  The slideshow features a series of photos contributed by Andras Sztankoczy, showing some general views of the landscape in the Chongoni area, as well as detailed studies of particular rock-art friezes.

Slideshow of the Chongoni Rock-Art Area:


Google Earth View:  To view satellite imagery of the Chongoni Rock Art Area on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.

Links to other places in the rock-art and pre-history category:  Tassili n’Ajjer  I  Tsodilo  I  Stone Circles  I  Tiya  I  Tadrart Acacus  I  Twyfelfontein  I  Drakensberg  I  Kondoa

Other Links:     Official UNESCO Site Details  I  Trust for African Rock Art

View of the forested hills where the Chongoni Rock-Art Area (a UNESCO world heritage site) is located (near Dedza, Malawi)Roadside signboard directing visitors to one of the rock-art sites in the Chongoni Area (a UNESCO world heritage site near Dedza, Malawi)Looking out from a cave, the ceiling lavishly decorated with rock art, one of many such sites in the Chongoni Area UNESCO world heritage site (Malawi)Typical white symbols and images painted by Chewa agriculturalists and part of a living tradition in the Chongoni Rock-Art Area (a designated UNESCO world heritage site in Malawi)



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