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Ancient and Tribal Art

Updated on June 4, 2014

Ancient and Tribal Art

I have always been fascinated with ancient art. It is a journal of who we were and where we came from. My store, Ancient and Tribal Art is all about art from the past, with a bit of a twist. Some of these pieces are over 10,000 years old but I've taken these ancient pieces from around the world and added a modern element. Now what was a huge geoglyph from Peru is now rendered in glass or gold. I hope you enjoy this journey around the world and into the past.

The jaguar was the most feared and respected beast in the Mesoamerican world

The jaguar gods of the Maya were associated with night, caves and the underworld, like the jaguar itself, and were sometimes associated with shamanic transformations. The skin of the jaguar was used in many costumes, to denote high rank, power, authority and an association with the gods, especially in times of war. In the beautiful murals of the Maya, it is usually the rulers who wear those fashionable jaguar outfits! The common colored jaguar was the god of day and the black jaguars were the gods of the night.

There are many Jaguar Deities.

God of Terrestrial Fire

God L- associated with black sorcery and riches

Goddess of Midwifery and War

Patron of the month of Pax

Aged Jaguar Paddler

Protectors and Transformers

For more info on these deities, visit Wikipedia

Mayan Jaguar - Gold and Turquoise
The Mayan jaguar god was one of the most powerful gods. This design, rendered in turquoise and gold, comes from a Mayan temple wall.

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The Mayan god of all gods, Hunab Ku, is said to exist in the center of each galaxy, radiating its intent out to life through each local star. It represents the solar calendar, balanced forces, and perfection.

Mayan Design
This beautiful design comes from the ancient Mayan civilization. Done in a highly polished metal.

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According to Maori mythology, tattooing commenced with a love affair between a young man by the name of Mataora (which means "Face of Vitality") and a young princess of the underworld by the name of Niwareka. Read More

The head was considered the most sacred part of the body, and because tattooing caused blood to run the tattoo craftsmen, or "tohunga-ta-oko", were very tapu persons. All high-ranking Māori were tattooed, and those who went without tattoos were seen as persons of no social status.

Ta Moko was like a history of a person's achievements and represented their status in their tribe. It was like a resumé. It also served as a reminder to people about their responsibility in life. It was a huge honor for people to have Ta Moko. It would usually start at adolescence, and was used to celebrate important events throughout life. The first tattoo marks the transition from childhood to adulthood and was done during a series of rites and rituals. Tattoo art was an important part of the Maori culture - in fact, people without tattoos were considered to be without status or worth.

Maori Facial Tattoo
Serpentine was traditionally used by the Maori to carve their tiki and other ornaments. It is an extremely hard, jade like stone. Here the face tattoo is done in a serpentine stone.

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Aboriginal rock art is part of a tradition of painting and engraving that stretches back thousands of years. Some of the oldest surviving examples so far found are the rock engravings in the Pilbara in Western Australia and in the Olary region of South Australia which may be as much as 40,000 years old. Read More

Running Women
Based on rock art found in northern Australia this rock art is thought to be one of the oldest in the country. Done here in a bold black and white graphic.

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Tassili-n-Ajjer in Algeria is one of the most famous North African sites of rock painting. Its imagery documents a verdant Sahara teeming with life that stands in stark contrast to the arid desert the region has since become. Read More

Mother and Child
This rock art of a mother and child comes from Algeria and is over 5000 years old. I would love to know the story behind this art. It looks like some things never change. Depicted here like a fine piece of jewelery in gold.

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The oldest creative graphic expressions known today are paintings and engravings on rock surfaces, in caves and open air sites. Messages, left behind by our early ancestors in all inhabited parts of the world, embrace 40,000 years of history; they constitute the principal means of documentation, before the advent of writing, of the intellectual and cultural life of humankind.

Not only are these artistic impulses exceptionally impressive for their beauty, they also reveal thoughts, beliefs, ideologies and the associative and creative faculties of early minds. They reflect the minds ability to abstract, synthesise and idealise. To comprehend how and why these archetypal characteristics emerged is of primary importance for a historical understanding of humanity." Read More

Llama
This ancient petroglyph of a llama is so cute, I couldn't resist and did it in bright colors. A great design for children, or the little kid in you.

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The southern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii is a mostly arid district known as Ka'u. Possibly the landing site of the first settlers almost 1500 or more years ago. The environment ranges from sub-artic at the summit of Mauna Loa to lava and ash desert. Most of the shoreline is a dry and wind-blown volcanic fringe dotted with ancient ruins scattered among infrequent beaches or lagoons. Perfect conditions for Rock Art. The uplands still support primeval forests.

Ancient Hawaiians called their stone art k'i'i pohaku, or images in stone. This rock art provides a unique look into the past, but questions can only be answered by speculation, for there is almost no historic evidence of the petroglyph's origin in Hawaii. Although the age of Hawaii's images is not known, it is believed that some of the petroglyphs are over 600 years old.

Hawaiian Turtle Petroglyph
Colored distressed graphic of this famous Hawaiian petroglyph of a turtle carved into the lava rock near Puako, Hawaii. This design has a softer look with a distressed appearance. Many different colors on different colored shirts.

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The Uffington white horse is undoubtedly Britain's oldest and most famous hill figure, which has recently been dated at 3000 years old by the Oxford Archeological Unit. 1000 years older than previously thought.

The horse is unique in its features, the horse being a very long sleek disjointed figure and this leads some to believe it represents the mythical dragon that St. George slain on the adjacent Dragon hill or even his horse. However others believe it represents a Celtic horse goddess Epona, known to represent fertility, healing and death. It is 374 feet (110 m) long, cut into the turf to reveal the underlying white chalk.

Uffington Horse
A different take on the Uffington horse. This one done in a rusted metal design. The Uffington White Horse is a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure, 374 feet (110 m) long, cut into the turf to reveal the underlying white chalk..

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In our modern multicultural world the ringed cross is as much a symbol of ethnic heritage as it is of faith and it is often used as an emblem of ones Irish, Scottish or Welsh identity. A Celtic cross is a symbol that combines a cross with a ring surrounding the intersection. The symbol has ancient origins and was likely a regional variation of the sun cross (which has arms that do not extend outside the circle). When Christianity spread to the British Isles, the Celtic cross was combined with the Christian cross. As a result, Christian high crosses (which are made of stone and richly decorated) are often, though not always, built in this design. Celtic Crosses began to appear during the fifth century A.D., it's shape is derived from a pagan sun symbol, the sunwheel, which later became a symbol of the Christian Godhead. The sunwheel was originally a cross surrounded by a circle with a center stone representing the sun and mock suns at the four quarters.

Celtic Cross
A beautiful classic Celtic cross with is its intricately intertwined designs. Here as though carved in stone.

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Thor's Hammer is a symbol of the struggle against chaos and evil. It's the weapon used by Thor against giants, monsters, and other trollish folk who threaten the common good. It seems particularly appropriate in these troubled times. The Hammer was also important in the hallowing of hearth and home, in marriage ceremonies, and the invocation of fertility.

We know almost nothing about pagan religious practices in the Viking Age. There is little contemporary evidence, and although there are occasional references to paganism in the Viking sagas - mostly composed in Iceland in the 13th century - we have to remember that these were written down 200 years after the conversion to Christianity. We know that chieftains also had some sort of role as priests, and that pagan worship involved the sacrifice of horses, but not much more. Read More

In the archaeological record of tenth century Scandinavia, there is evidence for the proliferation of small metal amulets representing Mjollnir, the magical hammer of the god Thor. Read More

Thor's Hammer
Thor's hammer is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains. This one is done in silver.

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Om Mani Padme Hum - Hail the jewel in the lotus

Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect -- it is often carved into stones, and placed where people can see them.

OM is the opening syllable of many mantras and signifies enlightened body, speech and mind.

MANI means "jewel", symbolised by the crystal prayer beads that Chenrezig holds.

Padme means "lotus" and signifies wisdom.

Hum is the seed syllable of enlightened mind.

Hum - Enlightened Mind
Hum symbolizes the awakened heart and mind. It is also a symbol of stability and unification. It is depicted here in gold.

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The famous Nazca Hummingbird is one of the earliest zoomorphic symbols found on the Nazca Plateau, and has become an icon on Peru. The avian symbol is 305 feet long, stylized with the characteristic "finger" line design and demonstrates a moderate level of precision in execution. Its purpose remains undefined.

The Nazca lines were constructed more than 2,000 years ago by the people of the Nazca culture (c. 200 BC-AD 600). A pre-Incan civilization that flourished on the southern coast of Peru from about 200 B.C. to about A.D. 600, known for its polychrome vessels decorated with stylized designs and for the enormous drawings of geometric and zoomorphic forms etched in the desert floor 200 miles south of Lima.

Read more about the Nazca gyoglyphs.

Nazca Hummingbird
This version is as though the hummingbird is made of glass. One of the most famous geoglyph in Peru, the Nazca Hummingbird is over 300' long. This geoglyph is between 2300 and 2800 years old (300 to 800 BCE). The meaning of the geoglyphs is unclear..

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The ancient Egyptians maintained that the sun was propelled across the heavens by means of a scarab, or sacred beetle. The scarab is a type of beetle noted for rolling dung into spherical balls. The dung rolling scarab beetle was sacred to the ancient Egyptians as it seemed to emerge from nowhere. The apparent 'self-creation' of the scarab beetle resembled that of the Egyptian God Khepri / Khepera / Khephri an alternative name for the Sun God Ra or Atum, who created himself out of nothing. The scarab beetle therefore served as a symbol of regeneration and creation conveying ideas of transformation, renewal, and resurrection.

During and following the New Kingdom, scarab amulets were often placed over the heart of the mummified deceased. These "heart scarabs" were meant to be weighed against the feather of truth during the final judgement. The amulets were often inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead which entreated the heart to, "do not stand as a witness against me."

Egyptian Scarab

Shown in gold on our Women's T-Shirt

Egyptian Scarab
A golden Scarab and sun disk. By far the most important amulet in ancient Egypt, symbolically as sacred to the Egyptians then as the cross is to Christians today.

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See My entire Store

Come on over and have a look at all my designs.

To see my entire store click here


Wildlife art, pet portraits and falconry art


T-shirts for the whole family


T-shirts with vintage ads, products and posters from the 1800's to 1930's.


Postage stamps of the world on T-shirts and more.

I'd love to hear from you

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    • profile image

      Colin323 3 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I was particularly taken with the Hummingbird image; a wonderful example of people producing recognisable work on a large scale, maybe to offer a gift to their Gods.

    • buteoflyer2 profile image
      Author

      Kathie Miller 3 years ago from Southern California

      @Gypzeerose: Your Message Subject or TitleThank you so much. I love prehistoric and ancient art and enjoy finding ways to make it a bit more modern, yet keep the essence of the art. Thanks for pinning.

      Kathie Miller

      Timeless Creations

      Business cards, greeting cards,

      mugs, mouse pads and more

      Wildlife Art

      From Elephants to Birds

      Big cats to the family pets.

      Art of Falconry

      Falconry art, graphics and cartoons

      Bird of prey and hunting dog portraits

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      Love your art - in fact I pinned it to Art I love.

    • Travel Shepherd profile image

      Michael Shepherd 4 years ago from Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

      Yes, I can relate to much of your art. You truly have made the ancient modern. Congratulations.

    • profile image

      mizrae 5 years ago

      What a wonderful way to preserve history.

    • GaelicForge profile image

      GaelicForge 5 years ago

      Having Pictish ancestors, I can fully appreciate how tribal art takes you back to a time when people lived in greater harmony with the elements.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      Ancient and tribal art is so amazing. No matter whether it's just intricate or simplistic patterns, a lot of it had a purpose or story to show. I like the Maori tattoos and cave art the most.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 5 years ago from Michigan

      I've just come from your Ancient Art website. The Celtic designs are particularly beautiful.

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 5 years ago

      Very interesting and informative, a good read and so many cool designs. Blessed and featured on our squid-angel-of-digital-art lens.

    • profile image

      59rjv 7 years ago

      Nice lens. I've also been interested in ancient art since I read about the caves at Lascaux when I was a kid. Well done. 5*!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      This lens looks great! And I love topic! Good job!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I would love this lens to join the Artistic Women Online (/groups/artistsonline)

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 8 years ago

      Great lens very well put together 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust

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