Aboriginal Art - Understanding Aboriginal Art, Symbols and Styles

Aboriginal art refers to the spiritual and symbolic art practiced by Aboriginal peoples of Australia. While artistic styles vary from region to region, indigenous art has been shaped by common factors such as the environment and historical events shared between different tribes. Read more about Aboriginal art, symbols and styles in this guide to Australian Indigenous Art.

Australian indigenous art

Australia’s culture has been shaped by its indigenous artists. Australian indigenous art is a mixture of various regional styles and traditions based on where each artist grew up. Aboriginals use symbols to tell stories that hold cultural importance in their communities. Since so much is told through symbols rather than written words, it can sometimes be difficult for non-indigenous people to understand what they mean – however, knowing a little bit about Australian aboriginal art will help
bring these works of art to life.

Aboriginal art symbols

The symbols and symbols of aboriginal art are as diverse as they are old. The oldest known aboriginal art in Australia is approximately 60,000 years old. And while there have been many forms of aboriginal art since that time, a few traditional meanings remain constant. The red ochre paintings of ancient aboriginal cultures signified blood; yellow ochre symbolized sand or sunlight; white paint meant water. Black dot patterns often represented stars, ancestral desert tracks and or body parts while lines signaled waterfalls, rivers or landscapes.

Aboriginal art styles

The most common styles of aboriginal art are dot painting, abstract painting, and sand or rock engraving. Each region has its own unique style. For example, in Arnhem Land bark is used instead of canvas to create artworks. The patterns in aboriginal paintings come from many places: such as geometric shapes drawn from ceremonial ground drawings; or natural sources like bush tucker found out in nature; or symbolic meaning associated with specific colours of sacred significance. Aboriginals believe that their ancestors & spirits live on in objects like rocks, trees, animals, and waterholes. These places are a source of great inspiration for artists in all genres—including dot painters who use these sites as a patterning tool when creating artwork. There is an essential spiritual belief held by indigenous Australians that all things created were done so through acts of culture and ceremony by their ancestors, who acted as creators or storytellers also known as Lore men.

Aboriginal Art Facts

Aboriginal art is a diverse style of artistic works created by Indigenous Australians. They have been produced in many media forms. The earliest date back at least 40,000 years according to Geoffrey Blainey. There are several thousand distinct tribal groups in Australia. Throughout each of these cultures, there are some fundamental commonalities such as the importance attached to storytelling, ceremony, and symbolism. The term art can apply to both objects created for practical use or purely for their aesthetic value. As such, Aboriginal people create utilitarian or decorative art, including shields, boomerangs, weapons (such as knives), musical instruments (including didgeridoos), clothing (necklaces, etc.), ceremonial regalia, and headdresses.