Australia's Living Heritage, Arts of

Australia's Living Heritage, Arts of the Dreaming
Jennifer Isaacs, JB Books

I read this picture book/essay while on vacation in Australia. It describes Aboriginal art from baskets to rock carvings to bark painting to body painting to decorated weapons to sculpture.

"All Aboriginal art is symbolic; much of it is geometric of non-figurative." In fact, it's quite a surprise that the art of the oldest continuous culture in the world (40,000 - 60,000 years old) expresses itself in a form that could be mistaken for "modern" abstract art. Lots of circlues and dots and wavy lines, generally recounting one's personal creation myth and ancestor stories.

Western eyes often miss the frame of Aboriginal art, for it often incorporates found objects from nature. A pile of rocks two blocks down the road from a painted boulder may represent the eggs of an emu.

We tend to look primarily for images that we recognize and that relate to our own perceptions of the world, perhaps ignoring the importance of other evidence relating to another world view. The existence of so many tracks, circles and other marks at most of the rock engraving sites highlights an aspect of Aboriginal perception that differs from that of Europeans. Because it was so necessary for hunters to undestand and relate to the tracks and marks left by every living creature, the engravings frequently showed the 'marks' made by people and animals, rather than presenting representational images of their forms. Examples are the obvious foot tracks, tail marks of the kangaroo, egg indentations to indicate a clutch of emu eggs, arcs and circles to denote seated people and a campfire.

Posted by Jay Cross at July 31, 2002 01:18 PM | TrackBack

i like it

Posted by: free love story at June 29, 2004 10:25 PM

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