Aboriginal Art: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Aboriginal art.

  • Aboriginal art is the name given to the art made by the native people of Australia. As well as rock paintings, it includes sand painting, rock and wood carving, and paintings on leaves.
  • The oldest Aboriginal art is thought to be about 40,000 years old. The Aborigines may have lived in Australia for about 125,000 years.

  • The art was often used to tell a story, or to pass on beliefs, ideas and customs to future generations. Some paintings were about relationships, nature or animals or a desire to travel.
  • Aboriginal rock carvings can be found all over Australia, especially around Ayers Rock and Kakadu National Park. Rock paintings in Kimberly are known as Bradshaws, after the European who discovered them.
  • Yellow, brown, red and white represent the sun, earth, desert and clouds and are the four traditional Aboriginal colours. They are found in many carvings and drawings.

Aboriginal art

  • The largest collection of rock engravings is in Australia’s Burrup Peninsula. There are over a million carvings, some of which show a now extinct animal, the thylacine or Tasmanian tiger.
  • Although Aboriginal art often depicted something tangible, it was sometimes abstract. Abstract art used dots, circles, lines and symbols which were not easily understood by non-Aborigines.
  • Painting on tree bark is the oldest form of Aboriginal art. Bark paintings can sell for a lot of money and there is even an award given each year for the best new painting.
  • When Europeans explored Australia, the Aborigines did not want the meaning of their paintings to be understood. They used dots to hide secret messages and information.Modern day Aboriginal art has become popular and works can sell for a lot of money. A work completed artist Emily Kame Kingwarreye sold for a million dollars in 2007.

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