I believe it is also possible to get a suggestion of the handedness of the creator of the rock art by examining a hand print. A human normally finds one side or the other dominant and capable of finer control and dexterity.
Hand-prints, Texas. Photo: Peter Faris, 2004.
According to Wikipedia right-handedness is most common. Right-handed people are more dexterous with their right hands when performing tasks. A variety of studies suggest that 70-90% of the world population is right-handed, rather than left-handed or any other form of handedness. Left-handedness is less common than right-handedness. Left-handed people are more dexterous with their left hands when performing tasks. A variety of studies suggest that 8–15% of the world population is left-handed.
Now how would we apply this knowledge to the analysis of a hand print in rock art? It seems to me that if the hand print is actually a print of a hand – a hand covered in paint and applied flat to the rock face – the creator of the image would probably use their dominant hand out of force of habit. Therefore if it is a print of a right hand it was probably a right-handed person and if it is a print of a left hand it was probably a left-handed person.
If, on the other hand (pun intended), it is a tracing of a hand, whether painted or pecked, it is probably the opposite because the creator would be using their dominant hand to do the tracing around the less useful hand that they were holding flat against the rock face. When the outline was made permanent, either with paint or by pecking, it was a recording of the person’s subordinate hand, not the dominant one.
Applying this reasoning to the same panel of hand prints in Texas that I photographed in 2004 and used to illustrate the August 5, 2009 posting about hand-prints we see that these hand-prints were made with a paint covered right hand applied flat to the rock face. We have already seen that these prints indicated that their creator was probably a male, now we can see that he was probably a right-handed male. Not bad for a group of anonymous hand-prints.