Ancestral Connections: Art and an Aboriginal System of Knowledge
Ancestral Connections unlocks the inner meaning of Australian Aboriginal bark painting. Drawing on more than ten years of fieldwork among the Yolngu—an Aboriginal people of Northeast Arnhem Land—and applying both anthropological and art historical methods, Howard Morphy explores systematically the graphic representation of traditional knowledge in Yolngu art. He also charts the role that art has played in Aboriginal society both present and past.
The rich symbolism of Yolngu art links the Yolngu directly with the "Dreaming," the time of world-creation that continues as the spiritual dimension of the present. Morphy shows how a complex dialectic of "inside" and "outside" interpretations of painting structures the system of knowledge in Yolngu society, and how European interest in this art has caused certain changes in the conditions of its production. The "inside" significance of the art, however, has not changed; it retains its dual ability to represent and to constitute relationships between things.
Ancestral Connections is a major contribution to the anthropology of art. A subtle commentary on the colonial encounter in northern Australia, the book demonstrates how the Yolngu have used their art—against all odds—as an instrument of cultural survival and as a component of the economic and political transformation of their society.
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Art for Sale
Yolngu Society An Outline
The Rights to Paint
Inside and Outside The Yolngu System of Knowledge
Paintings as Meaningful Objects
The Meanings of Paintings in Ceremony
The Components of Yolngu Art
Changing with the Times Categories of Art and the Composition of Paintings
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ancestral events ancestral past ancestral power Arnhem Land artistic system associated bark bark paintings birrimbirr spirit blood body burrkun categories of paintings cere ceremonial ground clan designs clan paintings clan's coffin components connotations context created cross-hatching cultural dances dead death Dhuwa moiety digging stick dilly bags Djapu Djarrakpi Djungguwan ceremony djuwany Elcho Island elements European example feature block figurative representations goanna Gumatj gutharra guwak individual infill initiates inside interpretation journey lake likanbuy paintings maari maarr male mardayin Marrakulu marrawili tree mokuy Morphy Munyuku myth Narritjin Nhulunbuy Northeast Arnhem Land Nyapililngu ownership paperbark particular patriline person possum produced rangga refer relation relationship represent sacred objects sand schema secrecy senior set of paintings shark signified songs structure symbols template themes things Thomson tion Trial Bay waku wangarr Wawilak sisters women yingapungapu paintings Yirritja moiety Yirrkala Yolngu art Yolngu society Yolngu system