- Slides: 39
Arts of Ancient Cultures
Ancient Cultures w Include tribes and peoples of prehistoric periods w What we know about the arts of this period relies heavily on artifacts and oral histories w Ancient cultures include Native American, African tribal society, Egyptian, and eastern cultures
w The arts, music, dance, drama, and visual arts are strongly related to the religious beliefs of the culture. w Most arts have some ritualistic purpose. w All arts are very much environmentally dependent—no import/export market was available
What type of arts do we find? w The drama of the period is limited to the storytelling tradition. Groups would gather around campfires to tell stories of hunts and battles. This was a way to pass on heritage. The stories of creation and how natural things came about were shared.
w Dance was ritualistic. The purpose was to prepare for battle, as wedding, birth or death ceremony, as a rite of passage from one life period to another, and even as a political practice. Some cultures would “sign” their legal agreements by having a dance. Social “boy/girl” dancing was not practiced.
w Music again served a similar purpose as dance—used to celebrate special life times, to prepare for hunts or battles etc. w Instruments used include simply constructed drums, flutes, and percussion instruments mainly. w Chanting was the main vocal music
w Visual arts include items of functional value and items that serve religious/ritualistic purposes. w Functional items include: woven materials (blankets and clothing items), woven baskets and pottery used for storage etc. w
w Items serving ritualistic. religious purposes include statues used to represent the gods that the people worshipped or that had mystical powers such as Venus figures (fertility figures). Cave paintings are some of the oldest artwork ever discovered. There are cave drawings located thru out the world
w Some of the most famous cave painting were found in France. Featured in most cave paintings are animal scenes—hunt scenes. It is speculated that rather than portraying the story of a hunt that these drawings were a ritual that would weaken the animal and make the hunt more successful
w One of the most impressive pieces of architecture that was created during this time is Stonehenge located in Great Britain. It is a ancient and mysterious religious configuration of giant stones utilizing the post-and-lintel system.
w A post-and-lintel structure consists of horizontal beams (lintels) laid across the open spaces between vertical supports (posts). w It is believed that this structure was built by the Druid cult and served as a place of worship. w Another name for this type of structure is a megalith.
w Ancient arts were created in the time period covering 30, 00010, 000 BC. This is known as the Paleolithic period. w Cave paintings were discovered in the French town of Lascaux. Art of the Paleolithic period sometimes served as a calendar.
Native American Arts Several factors influence Native American arts; 1. Environment—what is available and can be found naturally 2. Tribal Tradition—what is passed on from one generation to the next 3. Function—what real life purpose does it serve
Native American visual art w They used materials found in the environment primarily. When white settlers came they bartered for and began using the glass beads, brass bells and other materials they traded for to create designs in their various creations.
w The major art forms practiced by the Native Americans are: w Pottery w Jewelry making w Weaving w Beadwork w Basketry
Tribal Art traditions w Environment was a significant determining factor in the arts created by various tribes. w The tribes of the Northwest Coastal region created carvings in whale bone and large totem poles
w Most Native American art is symbolic in nature—rather than create reproductions of animals or the subject matter they create representations of the subject matter to capture the spirit within the object.
The tribes of the Northeast Woodlands region created beadwork designs, masks, and basketry The tribes of the Southwest Plains region created pottery, cradle boards, dream catchers, teepees and woven blankets
Native American Music w Utilized many percussion instruments created from nature and flutes. Vocals include chants. w The major instrument is the drum which served to create the beat for the dancing performers, a form of communication, and a part of heritage.
Native American Dance w It is ceremonial in nature—done on special occasions such as weddings, funerals, hunts, battles, harvests, rites of passage, etc. w It is dependent on a drum beat w It is usually done in a circle. w Native American dances were stopped when tribes were forced on reservations
Native American Drama/Lit. w The Native American culture is communicated in an oral tradition—storytelling around campfires served to entertain and pass on the heritage of the culture. Many times the storyteller would act out the story with facial expressions and gestures.
African Arts The arts of Africa, like the Native American culture, are dependent on the environment, functional, and very closely tied to their religious practices. Art objects were also created to symbolize and sustain the ruling authority thereby serving a political function
w African visual art is conceptual in nature—the artist emphasize the physical and symbolic characteristics of the essences, rather than the visible nature, of their subjects. w It is closely tied to their religion and many times will seem very abstract in nature.
Visual Art w One of the most prominent types of art practiced is the carving of wooden figures. These figures are very abstract and are usually tied to their worship practices—idols created for religious worship. Most early works are in poor condition due to insect and weather
Masks were created and used extensively in the African culture. w They became an important part of the religious ceremonies and celebrations they practiced. w These masks had great magical importance attached to them and are richly decorated and carved
3 types of masks 1. Face mask—mask worn to hide the identity of the wearer. The wearer even changed his voice so as not to be recognized when performing. 2. Headpiece—masks carved of wood and worn on the head like a cap—used in harvest ceremonies
w 3. Shoulder Mask—large carved masks made to rest on the shoulders of the wearer. Sometimes called helmet masks. The wearer of the shoulder mask looked out thru holes cut in the chest. These masks were quite heavy, often weighing 75 lb. Or more and when it was in place the wearer stood over 8 ft. tall
Dance w Utilized costumes and masks. w Was very ritualistic—done for the purpose of pleasing the gods w The ritual will ensure the continuity of the tribe. It enacted dramas of birth, succession of power, and initiation to adulthood
Music w The heritage of the tribe is communicated thru the song and dance as well as the storytelling of the tribe. Every aspect of tribal life has its special music—there was music for communicating news, working in the fields, legal dealings, hunting, special life events such as marriage, birth, etc.
w African music tends to be sung. w Typically it consists of short melodic phrases that are repeated, alternated, and varied in order to create longer melodies w It also uses contrasting rhythmic patterns. African music is very complex in nature.
Egypt w Culture developed along the banks of the Nile before 3000 B. C. and the ancient culture lasted almost 3000 years. The family that forms the ruling body is called dynasty. w Ruled by a leader called a pharaoh. He was not just a king he was also a god. After death he joined other gods they identified with forces of nature.
w The afterlife of the pharaoh and other important people is a theme running thru much of ancient Egyptian art. The religion centered on death and the afterlife. w Ancient Egypt is divided into 3 periods: The Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom
Old Kingdom w Sculpture was the major art form of the Egyptians. Old Kingdom sculpture show technical mastery and is well crafted. Life-size pieces capture the human form in detail.
w These sculptures of the pharaohs and their wives are very detailed and feature a rigid, dignified posture. They were painted with the eyelids of both male and female painted black and their eyes are dull light-colored quartz. The female is painted creamy yellow while the male’s skin ranged from light to dark brown.
Pyramids w Perhaps the most famous Old Kingdom architecture are the Pyramids on the Giza plain. These pyramids are tombs built from limestone for the pharaoh and important people. The largest pyramid was built by Cheops. The Sphinx is located at the head of this pyramid.
New Kingdom w Most traces of the Middle Kingdom were wiped out by Amenhotep III when he built his temple at Luxor during the New Kingdom. w Due to extensive grave robbing of the pyramids, elaborate hidden tombs were built.
w Theban Rock tombs featured painted walls in order to usher the dead into the hereafter. w These walls also featured hieroglyphic writing—a form of picture writing that was used by the Egyptian culture. The shapes in this writing stand for ideas not sounds as our alphabet does.
w Bodies were mummified and placed in an elaborate coffin called a Sarcophagus. w The faces of the mummified body would many times be covered with an elaborate funerary mask made from gold and other precious stones
w King Tutankhamun’s (Tut), famous tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings. It featured his famous gold funerary mask and numerous treasures from the tomb.