Native American Art is the visual art of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas. Evolving from simple cave drawings and carvings, the traditional art grew to include intricate forms such as jewelry, beadwork, weaving, pottery, basketry, paintings, dolls, carvings, masks, quillwork, and totem poles. It incorporates symbols and subjects involving nature, that include the sun, the moon, and various animals such as bear and birds.
Native American Art
Native American Art is the visual art of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas. It incorporates symbols involving nature, that include the sun, the moon, and various animals.
Traditional Basketry Caps
Uploaded by H-stt Public Domain Image via Wikimedia Commons
This art form displays an astonishing array of both utilitarian and ceremonial objects produced by America's earliest people, that range from meticulously formed polished stone utensils, wooden bowls, and ceremonial pipes adorned with wonderfully detailed carvings to ornaments fashioned from copper, marine sheens, and clay figures perfectly clad in customary dresses. Many art objects are intended to perform a service as to act as a container.
The artistic designs have beauty and are a way to worship the gods. The varied geometric shapes used, became representative symbols and later became a language in themselves. The materials used to make this artwork include stones, feathers, cloth, and clay.
Basket weaving involved the use of reeds and corn husks to create intricate baskets. The materials would be dyed to make interesting tribal patterns, resulting in pieces of art that were also useful, as the baskets were used to carry fruits and vegetables.
Blanket weaving was another common art practice. Women would spend hours weaving threads together to create unbelievable colorful blankets in a vast variety of patterns and designs.
In the colder regions, walruses were carved out of whales' teeth; pendants and statues were created to symbolize the respect the tribes had for animals.
Totem poles were the most elaborate form of Native American Art. These huge, tall wooden sculptures represented generations of family members. Each "face" of the totem pole was a different representation.
Traditionally, the pottery was used for storing food, water, and valuables, such as beads. The Native Americans also created pots for cooking. However, beyond its functional purposes, the pottery was used as an artistic expression.
Masks were often used in tribal ceremonies, the examples of which are the kachina masks created by the Pueblo tribe. Kachina dolls of the Hopi tribe depict the spiritual beings that they worshipped.
Jewelry made of turquoise, copper, silver, and stone was worn as an adornment and sometimes for protection. Beautiful beads were made from shells, wood, and silver. The artwork created included use of lines of beads, that were stitched to emphasize the imagery.
In the Arctic region, the Eskimos carved sculptures of arctic animal life, including seals, walruses, and polar bear, and hunting motifs, using stone, ivory and bone. They also made elaborate ceremonial masks. The subjects of their work were chosen from their extensive mythology, as well as, their everyday experiences.
Ledgerbook drawings were the result of paper being introduced. Traditionally, picture drawings, paintings, and art symbols were crafted on hides of animals and clothes. Ledger books originally used by trading companies to keep accounts were given to the artists who produced ledger book drawings.
Symbols were carved into trees in the form of tree picture art. The trees were permanent natural structures and an ideal canvas for the artists, who wanted to record events that were important to their history, and could be seen through this unique art form by later generations.
Petroglyphs found on the surface of caves were created by removing parts of the rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. They consisted of a design, motif pattern or symbols engraved on stone.