Facts About Aboriginal Art You Should Know

Indigenous art that Aborigine–the native people of Australia who first settled in the land between 60,000 to 80,000 years ago created on rocks and in caves can still be seen in some places around Australia. This art is believed to be the oldest form of artistic expression in the world, archaeologists have analysed rock art made with ochres, a natural clay earth pigment, that depicted narratives through symbols and icons since there was no written language at the time. This kind of Aboriginal art can’t be comprehended easily by modern people since the ancient knowledges and understanding of the symbolism, iconography and meticulous rules has been lost. But there are some facts about this art which we do know and as the art has evolved through the thousands of years, modern versions have emerged and descendants of those original aboriginal artists continue to create new pieces to this day.

  • Only an Aboriginal artist can produce Aboriginal art

It is said that Aboriginal art can only be considered as Aboriginal if it is painted by someone who is of that origin, – Aboriginal, known as first nations people of Australia. A non-indigenous Australian doesn’t have the authority to paint an Aboriginal piece of artwork since a non-indigenous artist is not from a particular tribe, that’s why that person can’t represent any form of Aboriginal art.

  • Dots used to hide meanings

Australian Aboriginal people use painting to convey their cultural stories. Some of the paintings use dots. This dot painting itself is originated from the time of Aboriginal art movement when the people were concerned that non-initiates may be able to understand or learn the sacred, secret or restricted parts of their stories. Since then, it has become one of the most well-known style techniques of Aboriginal art and is copied often, becoming the most iconic Aboriginal style, though this was originally  just one technique.

  • Artists need permission to paint a particular story

Aboriginal artists can’t paint a story that is not from their lineage. So, if they’re seeking to paint a story concerning historical or sacred information, they must ask for permission from elders in the tribe before they proceed to make one.

  • Aboriginal people do not have a written language

Due to the fact that First Nations People of Australia did not have a formal written language, the artwork they tend to portray is a visual story. Without words to communicate, pictures take their place. Due to the horrors of colonialism and genocide Aboriginal languages in spoken form do not exist like they once did either. Each tribe has a different dialect; there are about 500 different Aboriginal languages but many are endangered or extinct as the elders and fluent speakers age and die out without being able to pass it on.

  • Symbols are central to Aboriginal art

Since Aboriginal artwork is a form of visual storytelling, each tribe has its own symbols that relate to a certain meaning. There are some iconic symbols that are relevant to multiple tribes and that include eagle feet, waterholes, and digging sticks. Colors can also be linked to certain meanings as well, but this is quite rare because only some tribes can understand which colors are related to which meaning, depending on pigments available in their local area.

It is truly a good thing for Australian to conserve this amazing art for the future. First Nations Art tells the story of a people past and present and is a major source of national pride. This is clear from how many Australian corporate gifts are decorated and designed uniquely based on Aboriginal art.