According to the beliefs of the indigenous people in Australia, the ancestors of the gods once with the mysterious python body meandered on the Australian earth and left a criss-cross, maze general footsteps. On the way, ancestral gods created all things in the world, including all the mountains and rivers today. This is the aboriginal belief in the "dreamtime". Thus, every indigenous tribe closely linked with their land, and every piece of land had a mysterious sanctuary that worshiped ancestors(The Dreaming). Indigenous paintings, songs and dances also reflect their close relationship with land and ancestors. For the indigenous people of Australia, the ancestral gods in the beginning of the world were eternal, and the gods are still energetic in the modern world and are manifested through indigenous art. Painting, music, dance can be passed down from generation to generation, and guide and inspire the indigenous people forever even though there were many the European white man's barrier(Australian Indigenous Ceremony). In all parts of Australia today, although all indigenous tribes have experienced varying degrees of cultural intrusions, their customs, traditions and important sites are still preserved and respected. This is because the dreamtime era of the creation of the gods passed down the jurisprudence, customs and behaviour norms, which still lead and inspire the daily life of many indigenous descendants. They rely on this “Dreamtime” of memory and consciousness to link the past, the modern time and the future.
Aboriginal boys dancing at an aboriginal dance festival in
North Queensland, Australia. (Photo: John Miles)
The belief in the "Dreamtime" became the source of inspiration for all kinds of indigenous art, the content of expression and the form of creation. Song and dance, painting reflects the dream of what happened, spears and basket products. In addition, other daily necessities are full of religious colours because the indigenous people believed that they were also created by the ancestral gods. In the folk song, dance and story legend, the ancestral gods are in different forms. Sometimes they are people, but more often they are animals, such as kangaroos or crocodiles, and sometimes they are even rocks or trees and some life-free entities. According to the beliefs of the indigenous people, the ancestral gods often changed their forms. They sometimes swim like fish, jump like kangaroos, sometimes as people sing, and sometimes transform into rocks or trees (Australian Indigenous Ceremony). In the traditional indigenous tribes, everyone had their own patron saint. From the beginning of life, everyone closely linked with their patron saint, which affected the indigenous art creation theme and the choice of theme.
Although Indigenous people were scattered throughout Australia in a relatively primitive living environment, their culture and art are quite developed that make many contemporary artists are amazing. Aborigines communicated their souls through their dreams. In the dreamtime, people seemed to see the creation of heaven and earth, the national origin of their myths, the childhood fairy tale and human growth process filled with humor, blur and eccentric episode. For the indigenous people, the dream is describing the rich and the concept of internal relations, which include the value and spirit. After the Ancestral gods created all the things in the world and human society, they turned back to nature and became streams, ponds, rock formations or the contours and marks on the rock. All these were manifested through indigenous art, and made their music and dances pass down from generation to generation. These arts constantly instructed and inspired indigenous peoples' lives.
Painting is the most prominent of indigenous art. They not only painted on the rocks, bark, holy goods and the ground but also in their own body painting. The pattern of traditional paintings consists of lines, circles and dots, which usually contain stories or represent some kinds of natural phenomena, natural forces and the creation of the gods. With a certain religion or spiritual connotation, its meaning in the different tribes are different. Aboriginal rock paintings have been recognized as the world's oldest descendants. The history of rock paintings is estimated to be 30,000 years (Australian Indigenous Art). It is divided into two types. One is knife and smear, and another one is direct description. Aboriginal artists used white clay, red or yellow ocher, charcoal and water to mix together for painting. There are a lot of paintings about the ancestors throughout Australia. It is said that these paintings were created by ancestors, not descendants. People inherited these sacred pictures and took on the work of supplementing the color, repairing the worn, and redrawing over and over again. This makes many images beyond the meaning of the picture itself. They represent the real spiritual power of the ancestors (Facts about Aboriginal Art). Whenever descendants redraw the paintings or touch the paintings in the ceremony, their divine power will be released to ensure that the replacement of seasons will be on time, Animals and plants will reproduce, and the children will born successfully.
Bradshaw rock paintings found in the north-west Kimberley region of Western Australia
The rock paintings record the major events of the Australian Aborigines and provide a very valuable clue for people to understand the indigenous people. rock paintings have been recognized as the oldest and most traditional paintings in the world, and the ancient arts which were carved or portrayed on rocks are everywhere in Australia. Their contents are mostly about myth of "Dreams" and animals and plants, etc. The forms of these paintings are quite simple, including geometric shapes and images. Generally, these forms have a certain meaning and a visual language which record or symbolize a thing or event, such as the locations of rivers and mountains, ancestral footprint and hunting routes and so on.
Their spiritual world in the religious belief and the concept of life and death, are fully demonstrated in the rock paintings. The rock art in Australia is varied. Although most of them are cliffs, actually they cover the entire area of Australia, and they have naturalistic style and abstract symbolic style. In southern and south-central Australia, abstract and patterned rock paintings are very good. they chiseled circles, spirals, combs, maze images and extremely rough characters. Geometric style works make people remember the decoration on the amulet. The coastal areas of central Western Australia are the most concentrated areas of rock carving. Most of the rock carvings were made on the surface of boulders, chiseled or ground to dark brown, and the ocher were shown on the rocks. Western Australia and all the indigenous people of Kimberley highland as other Australian primitive tribal people believe that the former earth and animals are not like this now. In Genesis, their ancestors had supernatural powers. When they lived on earth, they reshaped the nature. Their spiritual world later gradually from the Earth to the entire universe changed their own image to be the pure spirit of things. The so-called "creation period" has many stages: dreams, eternal dreams and so on. When the "creation period" of the ancestors were still living on earth, they not only had many adventure activities but also created a lot of confusing myths, legends, from generation to generation. the legend and mythology described how the various animals initially obtained their images. For example, the myth of the Kimberley Plateau describes how pheasants get their colorful feathers and so on. Some other myths are related to the development of mankind and narrate how Gods created a complex marriage law through their internal marriages. Some Important myths not only handed down through the form of the story but also compiled in songs and dances for continuing to repeat the stories of those myths (Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime).
by Mijau Mijau
West Arnhem Land
Oenpelli, Arnhem Land