Tribal art  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
See also primitivism, prehistoric culture, prehistoric art, The origins of primitivism in western art

Tribal art is an umbrella term used to describe artefacts and objects created by the indigenous peoples of (controversially named) primitive cultures. Also known as Ethnographic art, or Arts Primitive Tribal art has three primary categories.

  • African
  • New World or Americas
  • Oceania

It can be thought of as folk art, often containing ritual/religious significance pertaining to the custom within a particular tribal culture Typically originating in rural areas, Tribal art refers to subject and craftsmanship of artefacts from small-scale societies (tribes), often with no tradition of literacy.

The most well-known tribal art comes from the Americas (e.g., the Inuit, Plains Indians, and some remote areas of Central and South America), Oceania (notably Australia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and Polynesia), and sub-Saharan Africa. The characteristics of a society that produces tribal art include:

  • isolation, political and economic isolation from major civilizations in Europe, North Africa, or Asia
  • oral tradition, lacking literacy
  • small and independent population groups, normally in villages of up to a few hundred people, with personal interactions through direct contact and a lack of any formal social organization
  • a minimal amount of work/craft specialization
  • subsistence by hunter-gathering or very small-scale agriculture
  • lack of technology beyond hand tools, potentially made of stone rather than metal
  • slow rates of cultural development before contact with Europeans

Most important for tribal art are low population size, no use of written language, and lack of contact with large-scale civilization.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tribal art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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