Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art

By Evelyn Payne Hatcher | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
How? The Technological Means

In this chapter we consider the artist primarily as a craftsman. In the broad sense of the word art, ". . . the arts of a people are the skills and techniques they employ in making their tools, implements, and ornaments" ( Whiteford 1970:5)as well as their symbolic statements. Making the distinction between artists and craftsmen often implies a strong value judgment in favor of the former, and tends to obscure our understanding of the arts in various cultural contexts. Some craftsmen have more esthetic sensibility than others, are more creative in that they are always recombining the elements of form and technique, and we may consider the results more artistic in some cases than in others, but all arts involve craftsmanship. It is arbitrary to draw a line between "arts" and "crafts"; a work of art is considered by the observer to be of higher esthetic quality, and usually to be more meaningful than a craft object, but this is a matter of degree.

The description of crafts in this chapter includes several aspects: 1) the actual technique by which various materials are worked, 2) the degree of specialization that is usually associated with the various crafts and 3) the type of persons who are likely to work in a certain craft in societies of various levels of complexity.

The degree of specialization of the artist is roughly correlated with the complexity of the society in which he works. Thus in many very small societies, "everyone is an artist", in the sense of making things by hand, and no one is a full time professional. Nevertheless, it seems to be the case that some persons specialize to some degree because of their personal interests and capabilities. The person drawn to one art form or another will tend to do it in his spare time, and to pay more attention to the similar work of others. While the selection of a person for particular artistic tasks may be largely a matter of social position -- as relationship to the deceased in Arnhemland funeral rites -- it usually happens that there are several persons in the right relationship, so that the work is to some degree

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Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Theoretical Note xi
  • About the Illustrations xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Introduction to the Second Edition xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Contexts and Comparisons: The Anthropological Approach 1
  • Further Reading 20
  • Chapter 2 - Where? The Geographical Dimension 21
  • Further Reading 54
  • Chapter 3 - How? The Technological Means 55
  • Further Reading 84
  • Chapter 4 - Who? The Psychological Perspective 85
  • Further Reading 112
  • Chapter 5 - Why? Social Contexts and Social Functions 113
  • Further Reading 134
  • Chapter 6 - "What. . . ?" Art as Communication 135
  • Further Reading 166
  • Chapter 7 - When and Whence? The Time Dimension 167
  • Further Reading 196
  • Chapter 8 - The Esthetic Mystery 197
  • Further Reading 207
  • Chapter 9 - The Global Context: The 15th Century 209
  • Chapter 10 - Globalization: The 20th Century 229
  • Ethnographic Notes and Index 255
  • Glossary with notes on various usages 287
  • Bibliography 303
  • Bibliography for Second Edition 327
  • Subject and Author Index 331
  • A NOTE ON THE TYPE IN THIS BOOK 337
  • About the Author *
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