Symbols Used In The Australian Indigenous Artwork

Written and spoken language at the beginning of every culture was not fine and advanced, as we study at our schools, colleges and universities. A good example of this are the various symbols inscribed in Egyptian pyramids. Every culture has a rich ancient background that has evolved into the present modern era. Therefore, in the past, our ancestors used different symbols or images to convey a message, record stories and so on. You might have seen archaeological evidence such as pictures, documentaries on ancient drawings. Similarly, the ancient Australian Aboriginal culture used such styles of drawings with different symbols. These were important in teaching generations, as there was no written language for them. Therefore, it’s important to understand the differences in these symbols, which is evident in various paintings. Just like there were different styles in various regions in these types of artworks, the symbols and icons varied greatly. The use of these symbols can be dated back to the prehistoric era, which continues to be used in the present artwork as well. Even after many generations, this community understands and uses these icons in the paintings, teachings, etc. Moreover, this is a significant factor of this type of art. With that said, here are some of the symbols that you would notice in the drawings of famous traditional and contemporary artists:     Circles Just as there are different styles of these drawing such as Gloria Petyarre paintings for sale, which used bush leaf, circles were also prominent is works of other artists. What did circles represent? Mainly it meant that there was a group gathering, while a concentric circles meant they gathered for a meeting, around a fireplace and so on. This icon was combined with other symbols to paint a story.     Letter shapes Even today, there are symbols that represent certain words, things, etc. such as the symbol that represents females and males. Even in these arts used letters that are similar to some letters in the English alphabet. For instance for a man the ‘U’ shape was used and ‘V’, which was three pointed for an Emu and so on.     Fine lines and ochre colours Other than dots, bush medicine leaves seen in Gloria Petyarre paintings for sale, even lines were used. That is, in order to represent various ceremonies that were unique to different clans or communities, they used iconography and symbols with fine lines and ochre colours. Each of the symbols and colours represented something such as animal designs, fire, etc. These symbols hold rich information about sacred, traditions of these communities. Each of the iconography depicts various meanings, some of which are mentioned above. It represents people, animals, cultures, seasons and many more. Therefore, when you visit an exhibition the next time, indulge in the moment of understanding a great story that has been painted.

Article by Matthew Gowin

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