Art, in itself, is an expression of who we are as groups and as individuals. It could be defined roughly as the representation of ourselves in aesthetic ways. It has been in existence from the beginning of humankind, with the most primitive men taking to the cave walls to carve out images. It comes in different forms that are unique to different cultures. One of such form is Aboriginal art.

Aboriginal art is the type of art that is native to the indigenous people of Australia. They are generally known as aborigines. It usually involves painting on different surfaces. The most common of these surfaces are rocks, wood, leaves, and even sand. It has existed for several thousand years, and that is only one of the many different things that make it interesting. However, we cannot just jump into the article head first as such. It would be unfair of us to deny you the pleasure of feasting your eyes on this native goodness! Having said that, you can always view the artworks.

Now, without further ado, here are ten facts about Aboriginal art that we can bet you did not know of:

1. Aborigines are the only ones who can create Aboriginal art: 

Where an aboriginal artist comes from will often decide what the art would look like. Since a non-indigene does not belong to any particular indigenous tribe, s/he would not be able to represent any form of aboriginal art. This, however, does not mean that other ethnicities are not allowed to create their art.

2. Dots in Aboriginal art were used to pass secret messages: 

After the Europeans settled in Australia, the indigenes feared that they could understand their language. They were also worried that the Europeans would gain access to their secret knowledge. As such, they began to implement dots into their art in order to hide information from the Europeans. Samuel Morse would have been proud.

3. The Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia is known to be one of the largest collections of Aboriginal art:  

The type of Aboriginal art found in the area is mostly rock engravings numbering in millions.

4. The very first Aboriginal artist in Australia to receive international recognition for his work is Albert Namatjira: 

He got the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. Asides that, he is in no way obscure in the world of aboriginal art. He is regarded generally as one of the best-known names in the field.

5. Aboriginal art is displayed in both art galleries and museums:  

This is so because Aboriginal art is one of the oldest surviving forms of art in the world. It has been in existence for some 60,000-80,000 years. As such, while the much older ones are preserved in museums, the newer ones are displayed in art galleries.

6. Indigenous Aboriginal art is always changing:  

One of the critical elements of Aboriginal art is its dynamism. While the essential principles and styles remain the same, innovations and adaptations occur over the years. Now, aboriginal art is different than it was decades ago. That is one of the reasons the art has survived for so many thousand years.

7. Aboriginal art is sometimes maps of their land:  

Not all the time, but on some occasions, after exploring their land on foot, aborigines go ahead to make paintings of them.

8. Much of contemporary Aboriginal art is based on essential stories such as "the Dreamtime":  

"The Dreamtime" refers to the period when the Aborigines believe the world was created. Some of these stories are believed to exceed 50,000 years of age.

9. Aboriginal artists must be granted permission before painting certain pieces:  

This usually happens when an artist wants to paint a representation of something considered to be sacred. S/he needs to get permission before doing so.

 10. Painting on canvas and boards only began about forty years ago:  

Before then, as stated earlier, common surfaces were used. They include rocks, wood, leaves, etc.

In conclusion

Aboriginal Australian art, just like every other form of art, is beautiful, especially if you can open your eyes to see and appreciate it. In this article, we have merely tried to show you the more exciting aspects of this aesthetically pleasing art form by listing out ten facts about it. 

If you haven't, you can go back to the top of the article to see some samples of Aboriginal art. It is well worth your time.


Published by Charlesa Gibson