Essential ArtArchaic and Inuit Art, a comparison

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The connection between humans and the creation of art is deep and spans all cultures. From almost the first emergence of Homo sapiens over ,000 years ago art work has been found and documented. Fast-forward to present day, pockets of people still exists whom share similarities in live style so close to that of archaic people that the resemblance between art styles is astonishing. The Inuit where, until the emergence of market art, were just such a people. I will present three main similarities between archaic and Inuit art work by comparing the art and lifestyles of both groups. By examining the similarities between these two primitive groups a greater understanding of the fundamental relationship between humans and art is achieved.

The Archaic and Inuit both shared a hunter and gather lifestyle. There entire existence depended sole on their abilities to maintain the bear essentials for life which included but not limited to food and protection from the environment. The execution of what we perceive to be simple tasks exhausted almost all of the resources which were available to them yet both cultures nevertheless placed value on the creation of images. This can be seen in the Harpoon Points from the Archaic and the Moss Wick Storage Bag from the Inuit. Neither the harpoon points nor the storage bag required any form of decoration to function yet we clearly see that great skill and time have been put into these objects to make them look nice. Both of these objects would have functioned just as well had they been left plain so why all the extra effort? Some scholar’s claim that these images represent the idea of art just for arts sake. Unable to make a run to the local Pier 1 Imports these people were left to there own demises to make their house a home. Others would point out that this type of lifestyle brings out a deeper connection to or respect for nature. Animism is at play here, these objects are apart of a living connected world and the images on them reinforce those ideas.

Belief in supernatural beings and a system of myth and ritual plays a large part in the Archaic and Inuit ways of life. The Archaic’s sorcerer from the Trois Fr�res caves and the Inuit’s Shaman in spirit flight are wonderful examples of this parallel. Both contain x-ray vision and transformation. Considering the Inuit’s swimming birds and bird women the connection it broadened to include composite figures. In addition to shamanism, hunting magic can be inferred through these and other art works. From the Archaic we also have the “Bison with Two Butts” which was drawn over cave bear scratchings while the Inuit’s give us “A vision Of Animals”. This makes perfect since seeing as how much both of these cultures depended on the abundance of and their abilities to capture and kill game. In each group they sought to emulate other creatures known for their hunting abilities and in the hopes of by creating the images they would become reality.

Finally non-literate values and the absence of vertical rendering influences the lives of these primitive people. The absence of literacy lends itself to a strong oral tradition. Art work such as “Life being birthed out of wall” from the Archaic and “Taleelayu” reinforce their beliefs and serve as a tool to educate generation after generation. The absence or vertical rendering is perhaps the hardiest idea for westerners to grasp.

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