Native American art is an extremely broad term as the indian peoples created many art forms encompassing several categories. Thus, the term must include all forms of native artistic expression dating back to prehistoric times. Native American Art ranges from flint adorned artifacts, pottery, and dance to stone carvings, weaving, and well balanced artworks. The indian peoples have proven that they are truly talented and capable of much.
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While there are many differences between each indian cultural form of artistic expression, there are many similarities as well. Several cultures have revealed the borrowing and appropriation of art forms from alien tribes as common practice. Museum collections have even shown that certain ornamental materials like turquoise, shells, jade, and feather have been traded at great distances from their original origins. Art was able to travel far and wide. Concluding that trade surpassed culture way beyond tribal limits. New ideas were infused as well as materials. With time, different designs and newer motifs began to be incorporated with in the traditional stylish concept of basic tribes. These people could not help but integrate what they were becoming introduced to. However, in some cultures the practice of appropriation was utterly forbidden. Consequently, the indians who were inclined to integrate these foreign designs eventually formed their own new groups of peoples whom were advancing in the world around them.
The widespread of tradition and cultural throughout the Native American tribes contributed to the realization of common symbolism. Symbols began to be universally recognizable by many tribes as they were widely encountered in a regional trade area. Trade routes played a major role in this phenomenon as it was an easy way to distribute and supply art commodities. For instance, the feline deity began to be highly recognizable as a visual element throughout the Americans, North and South. Other customs have become widely accepted as well, like the usage of masks, trophy heads, and fire ceremonies. Every single one of these customs are accompanied by a form of Native American visual art expression.
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Although there may be several similarities within art forms among different cultural groups throughout the ages, Native American Art cannot be described as one single concept. There are far too many native styles, motifs, designs, languages, speech forms, and dialects to try to establish one sole aesthetic bond. For as many similarities one many find within Native American Art - they will find just as many differences.
Remember that each tribe started off independently with their own culture and set of traditions. With that being said, two separate and differing tribes may move within an approximation of one another eventually result in a fusion of cultures. At this time, a tribe may lose a few ancient individualities but they will also be engaging in a new and progressive form of artistic expression. A new aesthetic quality will emerge. For example, while it is has not been 100% determined as to how much skill and knowledge of weaving the Navajo obtained prior to arriving in the Southwest, it has been proven that the Pueblo people were well versed in several different forms of artistic expression. Subsequently, the Navajo tribe gained new and advanced knowledge of weaving design and technique from the Pueblo methods creating far more sophisticated artisans. However, the same can not be said of the Mexican Aztecs and Mayans who lived side by side but refused to adopt one another's form of artistic expression. Each peoples artifacts can be identified as to whom it belongs without much difficulty.
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