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Native American Spiritual Artwork - Essay Example

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Native American art has two faces- one is handmade art-work and the other comprise of performances (Dagan). These two aspects are common for all Native American cultures. …
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Download file to see previous pages Similarly, the beautifully art-worked moccasin foot ware of Cherokee tribe are also seen as something sacred and this is evident when in a poem, the Native American man sings, “I put them on. I walked sacred on the land” (Williams et al., 31). On the performance side also, it can be seen that Native American dance is not simply an art form or a mode of entertainment but is deeply embedded with spiritualism (Sun Dance). Dance even becomes a form of prayer for these tribes (Sun Dance). In this way, “American art provides a mean for people to connect to the sacred” (Zimmerman, 94). It is observed that “animism” is the prevalent common theme of all Native American art (Dagan). The spiritual meaning of animism is a belief that “all things (in this world) are in unity” with each other (Dagan). Animism is also considered as the “oldest spiritual perspective in the world” (Dagan). The visualization of animism in Native Indian art can be seen as “spirals or zigzag lines” in paintings and carvings (Dagan). An interesting aspect of Native American art is that a spiritual experience is what ends up as an art work for a tribesman (Zimmerman, 94). Zimmerman has given an example for this when he said, “a dream might reveal to the artist a design for a warrior’s shield or part of a dancer’s regalia” (94)....
It was a spiritual retreat in which a large number of participants would fast, pray and dance for a period of days. They asked for answers to events going on in their lives” (Sun Dance). Half-man-half –beast images are also part of this spiritual philosophy (Dagan). It is these spiritual creatures that are supposed to guide the shaman through the path between the two worlds (Dagan). The same figures can be seen in the paintings, carvings and performance arts of Native Americans (Dagan). While exploring Native American performance art, it has to be kept in mind that “Native American dance is meant to channel spiritual energies or reanimate ancient stories that can be caused to re-appear in the world today” (Dagan). A magical web, the dream catcher, is yet another figure that appears in many forms of Native American art (Dagan). Also, the wolf being a sacred animal for Native Americans, it has gained a place in Indian art as well (Dagan). Apart from these common themes, there are different concepts of art and spirituality prevalent among different Indian tribes. For example, many “clan crests, songs, stories, (and) regalia (hats, blankets, tunics etc.) and clan houses” are considered ‘at.o?ow’ by Tlingit clan thereby wiping out the difference between what is art and what is mundane (Willaims et al., 139). The borders of physical and spiritual worlds thus overlap. An at.o?ow is a clan property that has social and spiritual importance (Williams et al., 139). From this example, it can be seen that traditional artworks as well as art forms like songs and stories have a spiritual role in Native American culture. Similarly, in the Pueblo community, the embroidery done by traditional weavers ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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