There is No Word For Art in Their Language

IMG_1344-001When I was in Juneau, Alaska last summer I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful exhibit of native masks in the Sealaska Native Corporation Gallery.  As I perused this captivating collection, I stopped and read an informational plaque on the wall.  I was struck while reading it that the SE Alaskan native cultures do not have the word “art” in their language.

When I returned home I researched further and found that many native cultures worldwide do not have the word “art” in their language.  In Bali the word for artist and human being are the same.  According to Aviva Gold on her blog “Painting from the Source”

……if we are all art makers by virtue of being human, why would we need a special word for art maker? And if “Art” is not a thing, but rather a natural way of life, connection with nature, daily worship, breathing, just being in the moment, then what use is there for the word “Art”? Art and living are the same. Art is complete living.

What a contrast to our modern culture where most are spectators to the arts.  We go hear music rather than play, go to art exhibits & revere artists as some kind of alchemists that should be worshipped.    We have been removed from our tribal nature, sectioned off into individuals on our own devices, so connected, yet so separated.

 

There is No Word for Art

There is no word for art in their language

It is infused in the fabric of their culture

Adorning their bodies and homes

With sacred symbols

On baskets, clothing, totems, rocks

 

It is the voice of spirit expressing

Woven within The Peoples’ memory

Through legends

Passed down through generations

 

Around fires on cold winter nights

The People share their stories in the singing of songs,

And in the dancing of dances

While the drums beat

The children watching intently

 

There is no word for art in their culture

Here everyday items, masterpieces

By everyday people

Not gods

For they are all artists

They know no other way

petroglyph-153860

 

One thought on “There is No Word For Art in Their Language

  1. This is so interesting, Alanna. I knew that the Inuit had dozens of words for “snow” but this is very interesting that they have no word for “art”. I love your poetic explanation that their art is woven into their everyday lives. Very inspiring. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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