VI SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS

However much indebted an artist may be to his environment for impressions, ideas and technical methods, his creative act is something altogether personal. But once a work of art is in existence, society alone can provide the public who will make use of it. The greater part of primitive art production is designed for practical application in the social life of the community. It furnishes the formal arrangement or design for a large number of co-operative activities --religious rites, warfare, politics, work and sport. In this sense, art, of course, includes music, dancing, poetry and drama.

It is remarkable that a large proportion of decorative art is, a monopoly of women. Among the North American Plains Indians it is the women who prepare the buffalo hides for pictorial decoration, and who carry out the conventional geometric designs, while the men are responsible, for representational paintings such as the example shown in Fig. 33. The same division prevails among the otherwise entirely different tribes on the Northwest Coast. A number of important crafts such as weaving and pottery were introduced by women. It was natural, therefore, that they should acquire a monopoly of the conventional forms of decoration associated with them. Sculpture on the other hand is everywhere the monopoly of men.

The older schools of anthropology held the view that in primitive society there was practically no individual life at all. Individuals functioned simply as members of a sociological unit. Recently, however, it has been established that there is a good deal of individual activity in primitive society. There is documentary proof from various parts of

-53-

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Primitive Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Pelican Books 1
  • Title Page 5
  • Foreword 7
  • Contents 9
  • Illustrations 10
  • II- Characteristics of Primitive Art 21
  • III- Utilitarian Art and "L''Art Pour'' L''Art" 33
  • IV- Primitive Religion 37
  • V- Primitive Art and Psychoanalysis 49
  • VI- Social Implications 53
  • VIII- Children''s Art 65
  • X- Northern Africa 79
  • XI- Bushman Art 85
  • XVII- Primitive Art and the European Artist 141
  • XVIII- European Art and the Primitive Artist 147
  • Notes 151
  • Index 158
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