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Ancestral Connections : Art and an Aboriginal System of Knowledge - Howard Morphy

Ancestral Connections

Art and an Aboriginal System of Knowledge

Paperback Published: 1st January 1991
ISBN: 9780226538662
Number Of Pages: 336

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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.

List of Figures
Preface and Acknowledgments
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
Manggalili Iconography
Nyapililngu's Blood
Conclusion: Yolngu Art and the Creativity of the Inside Note on Orthography
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780226538662
ISBN-10: 0226538664
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 1st January 1991
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.7 x 15.3  x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.48