Aboriginal art is integral to the culture, and often inspired by religious and ceremonial aspects of life. Here are summaries of situations where painted and engraved art have been applied in traditional times, other art forms, and an overview of the main styles of Aboriginal art.
Painted and engraved art has been applied to:
- Weaponry, including shields, spears, spearthrowers, boomerangs and clubs.
- Utensils, including wooden coolamons and bark carryalls.
- Sacred objects, such as long wooden boards, small wooden and stone tjuringa, pearl shell, and ceremonial poles.
- The walls and ceilings of bark shelters.
- The walls and ceilings of natural rock shelters.
- Exposed rocks beside waterholes and streams (only the engravings have survived).
- Trees, in particular sacred trees associated with ceremonial grounds and burial grounds. (Carved trees are known as dendroglyphs.)
A south-east Australian man
A sacred stone tjuringa carved with designs and painted over with red ochre. Central Australia.
Photograph by David M. Welch, from The Australian Aboriginal
A pearl shell with an engraved pattern filled with red ochre. Kimberley, Western Australia. Two holes bored at the top allow it to be attached to a waist belt. Collected by Herbert Basedow in 1916 and on display at the Australian Museum, Sydney.
A rock shelter in the Kimberley region, north Western Australia, its walls painted with ancient human figures.
A carved tree (dendroglyph) with geometric designs incorporating angulated spirals, near the Macquarie River, New South Wales.
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