Native American Art Essay

844 words - 3 pages

Art is a very realistic aspect among the Native Americans. In fact, what we call primitive art is actually symbolic objects from the process of a sacred ceremony. This concept is one not easily understood. Furthermore, this concept by Sam Gill is explained in Native American Religions. Sam Gill shows that Native American Art is different in meaning because of its contents then what modern societies consider art. Nonliterate people produce objects of beauty through ceremonial performances and rituals that keeps the cosmos in order, while modern societies over look these factors.

More in depth, the entire concept of art and what is art differs in the world of the nonliterate societies. This is the first rule that needs to be analyzed. In addition to, the objects westerners view as art is actually a small piece to a bigger puzzle. To the Natives, the overall puzzle or purpose is to created and stabilize the cosmic order in which they live in. It is through this process of rituals and sacred ceremonies to keep order that objects are created of beauty, but for bigger reason. Not to hang on a wall or leave behind a glass case; but rather, keeping order and doing away with chaos that could destroy their existence.

Now that this has been said, two illustrations that help us understand the way of thinking is that the Navajo Sand paintings and Seneca False Mask: two of which are rich in spiritual and cosmic meaning and power.

The Navajo Sand Paintings is an example of a sacred symbolic object commonly misinterpreted as nothing more than an artistic piece of primitive art. In actuality, the beauty is being overseen because Navajo sand paintings have more significance. This so called `piece of art' serves as a major device, but in a bigger picture, that gets an ailing person back into health or corresponding with the cosmos. This is done when the ailing person sits at the center of the sand painting. Once corn pollen is added, the holy people are present and then, the "repairing" begins with the relationship with the "life-giving forces." In the cosmos, the destruction of the sand painting symbolizes the dissolution of the tensions and imbalances in that made the individual an ailing person. At the end of this highly symbolic ritual, there is a healthy person or a "re-creation" of a well ordered world. Sand painting rituals is one example of Native American beauty in art and cosmology as a whole. Though sand...

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