Tribal Art is the objects and artifacts made by the tribes in the rural areas, for religious reasons rather than as an example of artistry. Its numerous uses differ from tribe to tribe. They could be used to decorate objects of daily use or can even be used for spiritual ceremonial functions. Very often tribes are isolated from civilisations, with no tradition of literacy. Hence, art is a good way to demonstrate and preserve tribal traditions, mythology, and history. In the Western Art scene, the most widely known Tribal Art categories are from the tribes of the remote areas of Central and South America. While the primary influence on Tribal Art is the geography and the climate of a region, the social and religious needs of a tribe and the availability of resources are also other important factors determining its evolution and proliferation. Because there is no access to technology, the artisans use hand-tools made of materials, like stone, wood, tusks, bones, skin of animals, dyes made from minerals, baskets woven with natural grasses, pottery made of clay, and sand for painting etc. The designs and symbols used represent favourable weather, good crops, successful hunting, illness cures, and other common experiences of the tribe. The images of dream and supernatural visions constitute the most creative works of Tribal Art. Since the tribes are isolated from the outside world, tribal art is unchanging in style. The tribes usually sustain themselves on the internal trade exchanges among the tribes.
Genres of Tribal Art
Inuit - It refers to the culturally similar group, residing in the Arctic region of Canada, Greenland, Russia, and the United States. The art forms here are from ivory & bone sculptures and figurative works on soft stones, such as soapstone & argillite. The usual subjects are hunting, whaling, and other everyday activities.
Navajo Folk Art – Is the Tribal Art from Bluff town in Utah, US. With considerable exposure to the civilized world, this art form has diverse interesting creations, such as vibrantly painted wooden chicken, cowboy riding buffaloes, dog in business suit, etc. Horsehair, wool, and leather are mainly used. The Navajo pictorial rugs, pottery, and sand paintings are famous all over the world.
Hopi Tribe - resides in the high desert plateaus of North Arizona. Art is inherent in this deeply religious tribe, including hand woven kilts & sashes, baskets & pottery, jewellery, Katsina carvings, and Kachina dolls, & toys for children.
Iroquois Confederacy Homelands - They are in the upstate New York and across the border into Canada. They have a culture rich in tradition and history. Their motifs include animals, sun, moon, and other natural elements. The various art forms of this tribe include basket weaving, beadwork, pottery, cornhusk artifacts, stonework, woodwork, and metal carving etc.
The uniqueness of each form of Tribal Art stems from the history and culture of the respective tribe. The recognition of tribes by the Federal Government along with the rights granted to the civilized world to interact with tribes had a major impact on Tribal Art and culture, giving way to Contemporary Tribal Art. Tribal artefacts are found in museums and souvenir stores all over the world.
Featured Image: Provided by Author – source captivedecals.com
Article by James Vasanth
James Vasanth writes a blog on Scottsdale Art Auction, about Western Arts, Fine arts and connecting the dots between online and offline.