Indigenous Australian Art refers to the art made by the original inhabitants of Australian continent and nearby islands like Torres Strait islands, also called Indigenous or Aboriginal Australians. In traditional Aboriginal society, activities, such as dancing, singing, body decoration, weaving baskets, sand drawing, or making sculptures are a part of their normal daily life. There is no concept of special person for these implements, as everyone is an artist. Aboriginal Art represents and symbolizes the world and beliefs of tribal people and is a vital part of their rituals and ceremonies. The existence of Indigenous Australians and their art is more than 125,000 years old. The descendants of these tribes still form a significant percent of population, keeping their traditional art and culture alive.

The myriad art various Aboriginal groups produce Australian ceramics, reflect the richness and the diversity of their culture and distinct differences in their social, cultural and linguistic customs. While in the central desert ground, drawing is the most important art style, rock painting and body painting are also popular throughout Australia. The styles, material, and meanings are peculiar to each region however.

Aboriginal Art often represents a ‘dreamtime story,’ using symbolic representation in meaningful colors. Concentric circles usually represent campfire, tree, hill, digging hole, waterhole, or spring. While curved lines represent underground water or rain, straight lines indicate travel. A “U” shaped figure generally represents a person, with a smaller “U” signifying a child in similar context. The metaphoric significance of icons is further clarified with the use of symbolic colors, such as blue for water. The colors are often mined from ‘orche pits,’ or pigments made from clay, wood ash, or animal blood.

Body Painting – It is the earliest form of Aboriginal Art, where people cover their bodies with exquisite designs, mainly for traditional dances and ceremonies.
Rock Painting – Done on boulders or walls of rock shelters and caves, this is the oldest wing of Aboriginal Art. The earliest examples include Kimberley & Pilbara region of West Australia, the Olary district of South Australia, and Tasmania in Central Australia.
Bark Painting – This painting is done on flattened bark, taken from Eucalyptus and other fibrous tree species. Although the painting technique is modern, the traditional designs used are heavily inspired from the Body Painting patterns.
Weaving – Done on baskets, bags, headbands, balls, belts, loincloth, skirts, and other garments is popular among Aboriginal women. The material woven is bark from banyan or peanut trees and the hair of women.
Rock Engravings & Carving – It is another ancient art employed in making jewelery & decorative shells, and to depict mythological stories.
Papunya Tula or Dot Painting – A modern Indigenous art style, it uses dots to hide the Symbolism in ancient stories done on sand. This gives these stories a more permanent form, which can be traded in international markets.


By Gilbert

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