Saturday, November 12, 2011


Push-me-pull-you (right center of photo), at the mouth
of Salt Arroyo,  Purgatoire Canyon, Bent County,
Colorado. Photo: Peter Faris, June 1998.

Of all the many portrayals of animals (zoomorphs) in rock art some of the most fascinating are the double ended animals known lightheartedly as “Push-Me-Pull-You’s”. On May 1, 2010, I published a posting entitled Sisiutl – The 2-Headed Serpent. Sisiutl, a snake with a head at each end, represents one form of the “Push-Me-Pull-You”.

Push-me-pull-you (lower left of photo), Carizzo Canyon,
Baca County, Colorado. Photo: Peter Faris, 1993.

The more common form that these creatures take however is that of a quadruped, a four legged animal with a head at each end. What these Push-Me-Pull-You’s actually represented to their creators I do not know. I can show a few examples to illustrate the general form of this creature, but except for Sisiutl (mentioned above) I have no idea as to what they were intended to mean.

Push-me-pull-you, Rochester Creek,
Utah. Photo: Peter Faris, 1993.

Alex Patterson (1992:202) suggested that the two-headed animals “zoomorphs with a head at both ends” is an animal birth scene representing the “invariable head-first appearance of many animals at birth.” Can this be the meaning of these enigmatic creature? Well, it is a very clever idea and may, in fact, actually be applicable in some instances. However, many of the Push-Me-Pull-You’s are shown with what appear to be horned heads on both ends, and no animal I know of is born with a set of adult horns in place. An example is the Push-Me-Pull-You from Rochester Creek in Utah which has a set of Bighorn Sheep horns on the head at each end. 


So, this brings me back to the question what do they represent? I really have no idea, but I would like to hear your suggestions.


Patterson, Alex
1992 A Field Guide To Rock Art Symbols Of The Greater Southwest, Johnson Books, Boulder.

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