Gua Tambun is a prehistoric rock art site situated in Gunong Panjang limestone hill, just outside the border of Ipoh Town. Gua Tambun was once known as a sanctuary for local spiritual ceremony or as an oracle site. Over the years, researchers discovered huge clusters of prehistoric rock art on its west-facing cliff. These rock paintings, collective known as Tambun Rock Art, were dated to approximately 4,000 -2,500 years ago.
TAMBUN ROCK ART
Tambun Rock Art refers to those intriguing parietal figures daubed in red and purple on the cave wall of Gua Tambun, Ipoh. According to archaeological records, the origin of Tambun Rock Art can be traced back to Neolithic period, between 2,500 and 4,000 years ago. To date, Tambun Rock Art is the only rare testimony of prehistoric red painting survives in modern times Peninsular Malaysia.
Prior to 2009, the literature dedicated to Tambun Rock Art is relatively limited and most of them are the field reports produced by Matthew (1959, 1960) and Faulstich (1984, 1985). Mathew’s investigation in Gua Tambun identified approximately 80 forms of rock art and unearthed 49 stone implements, said to have been attributed to "Hoabihnian" culture (approximately 10,000-5,000 years ago and varies across different region in Southeast Asia) whereas the Faulstich recorded more rock art and reported the discovery of Neolithic cord-marked pottery sherds.
In 2009, an extensive archaeological research was conducted by Tan and Chia (2010) and a total of more than 600 forms of rock art scattered through 11 panels across the wall were documented. According to Tan and Chia, Tambun Rock Art consist predominantly of zoomorphs (animal forms), anthropomorphs (human shapes), geometric features, botanic shapes and abstract shapes.
Faulstich, P. (1984). Preliminary report on the rock art of Ipoh, Malaysia. Rock Art Research, 1, 141-142.
Matthews, J.M. (1959). Rock paintings near Ipoh. Malaya in History 52: 22-25. Matthews, J.M. (1960). A note on rock paintings recently discovered near Ipoh, Perak, Federation of Malaya, Man, Vol.60. pp.1-3
Tan, N. H., & Chia, S. (2010). 'New'Rock Art from Gua Tambun, Perak, Malaysia. Rock Art Research: The Journal of the Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA), 27(1), 9.