Australian Aboriginal Art

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Australian Aboriginal art, song and dance has been the corner stone of culture since the beginning of their existence. Having no form of written language Aboriginal art, songs, and dances passed down through the generations have been the heartbeat that has kept this ancient culture alive. Even though the art, medium, song, and dance of each Aboriginal tribe may be completely different, they all serve the same purposes; create ceremony, and to inform each member of the tribe of their history, spiritual beliefs, values, and expectations for cultural norm and behaviour. It is not until recently that Aboriginal art has stopped depicting Dreaming stories and has begun to be used for other purposes, such as self expression and emotion release (Pizzi, 13). However as the customary Aboriginal ways of life have been continually interrupted and battered, the personal identity of Aboriginal people and their culture has deteriorated and is in great danger of dying out completely. For tens of thousands of years Aboriginals have created art on rocks, tree bark, the ground and their bodies, with dyes, paints, seeds, plants, sand, and ochres. It is these art works which create a visual language expressing the legends, morals, and history specific to each Aboriginal tribe (Kreczmansk and Stanislawska-Birnberg, 3). Each painting or drawing contains symbols and colours which represent a part of a Dreaming story. Generally the symbols similar to what they are representing, but can come to mean different things at different times, such as a spiral could represent a waterhole, campsite, breast, or fire depending on the context. Aboriginal art is an integral physical manifestation of their culture and cultural continuity is reflected in all forms; such as painting, drawing, ceremonies, song, dance, jewellery, and head masks (Barrington, April 12). On page one of ‘The Tjulkurra’, Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri, Janusz B. Kreczmanski and Margo Stanislawska-Birnberg write, “there is...
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