HomeAmericaHistory of Native American Art

It’s actually quite surprising that there are no written records of Native Americans that exist before the 1500s. This is of course the time when the European seamen found the American continent. The period before 1500s is considered by historians and scholars as the prehistoric period. During that time and later, Native Americans had established their very own states, history and art. Of course initially there were huge communication problems with no common language. Many believe that Native American art was the forerunner in a connection between natives and Europeans, the only way to convey ideas between the two cultures. When the Europeans arrived, they had some impact on the style for example. Yet overall there were only minor changes in Native American art resulted, because of a new way of life that native people had to take. Native American art is our way to accomplish the native Americans perspectives and history, to find out more about them.


That is why researchers in culture explore Native American art so carefully. It holds many clues to the development of Native American culture and thus it makes it an object of several scholastic discussions. There is a qualification of Native American culture, branching in five main culture districts or zones, which can be made for an easier interpretation of the artwork and culture. They’re, namely, the East, the Plains, Southwest and Northwest shore, along with the Arctic. The forms of Native Americans artwork differ considerably regarding different districts. This depends upon the various weather conditions, different traditions among different kinds of natives, natural environment, social arrangement, various religious beliefs, and so on. The difference of Native American artwork in various districts is so astounding that we can even wonder if they came from one continent.

If you have some interest in this, there have been a few studies and even some documentaries about Native American art.  One possible source is via the excellent BBC web site where you can stream programmes directly to your computer.  This is restricted to the UK though, but this post shows how to watch UK TV from anywhere in Europe.

The basic reason behind this is about the purpose of art in the life span of Americans. Native American artwork served many functions, and most of it was intended to be the visual representation of various myths and religious beliefs. The mythical Origin of Native American artwork gives some reason the forms of art differ significantly in various portions of the continent: due to the various myths and religions that occur between tribes. Native American artwork is made to meet the various requirements, to be a traditional linkage between generations to serve technical requirements; to be a symbol of rituals. Native American art is so different and hard to categorize due to the materials utilized for the creative pursuits.

Many artists used substances, that they found in their natural environment. Feathers, porcupine quills, tree bark, wood, animal skins and hair were combined in the artistic creation. Different artists used different technology for the creation of beautiful things. Native American art consists of artworks, made by carving, painting, weaving, sewing, or construction. And different technology have a tendency to slightly change in various regions, in order that artworks aren’t the same, even when the same materials are utilized for their own making.

Modern day Western artists have always looked for inspiration and Native American art has provided it for many.  Particularly in the use of materials and for a design linked so heavily to the natural world, it is often in great demand.  One area where it is particularly popular is the design in jewelry, where many of the oldest designs have been recreated in modern materials and even mass produced.

James Collins

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