Identifying and Decoding Indigenous Artwork

Storytelling is at the heart of indigenous art. It serves as a record of the Aboriginal people’s knowledge of the land, events, and beliefs. Symbols can be used instead of writing down culturally significant stories. It teaches people how to use the land and exist on it. Fake Aboriginal works are all over the place. Aboriginal art tags get used to describe fraudulent artwork these days. Non-indigenous artwork gets typically published without the permission of the original artist. Due to the lack of a written language among Australia’s indigenous peoples, storytelling and general communication relied heavily on Aboriginal work and symbolism. Aboriginal works played an impeccable role in passing down tales and knowledge about the country from generation to generation.

Distinguishing indigenous art from scams: Understanding typical art symbols

Australians indulge in skimming across online artworks and investing in Aboriginal pieces. Many people who want to learn more about Aboriginal culture are experimenting with the notion of painting in an Aboriginal manner. Replacing an original painting is not only immoral, but it may also disrespect Aboriginal people. However, Aboriginal works continue to be imitated, and it is high time for art purchasers to understand how to tell the real ones from the fakes. Aboriginal symbols can depict everything from things to emotions. For instance, Sacredness and manifestations of ties to cultural representations inside the mind, body, and emotions are shown by circular impressions on rock surfaces. Here is a list of commonly used indigenous symbols with meanings to look out for, especially if this is your first time collecting indigenous artwork,


A sign of a hunter develops as a deviation from the U form. The sign’s body is in the shape of a U, and a line generally accompanies it. The hunting boomerang is handcrafted into the number seven by Australian Aboriginal men (7). The linear line is usually a hunter’s spear or some such weapon. In many Aboriginal artworks, the crescent or ‘U’ shape emblem portrays humans, including men and women. This sign depicts a man or a woman is decided by the tools and utensils etched next.


Animals frequently get symbolised by the different footprints they leave behind. Small circles represent honey ants, fruits, flowers, or eggs, among other things. Kangaroos are shown by tick form impressions left in the sand by their feet, alternatively, as a line in the centre that indicates the imprint made by the tail. A set of mini parallel lines depicts an echidna, and reptiles commonly get represented as seen from above. An emu’s footprint is a three-pointed V, whereas a dingo (Australian native dog) makes a series of paw prints. In Aboriginal work, some animals have spiritual importance. The snake is a significant character in many Aboriginal art forms, ranging from a symbol of power to the serpent of creation.


Because so much of Australia’s outback is dry and arid, flowing water is a prized possession in many communities and a significant aspect of Indigenous storytelling. Parallel wavy lines that indicate the rippling of water, the flashing of fire, or the billowing of smoke are the Aboriginal art emblem for water, smoke, or fire. These elements’ transient nature gets condensed into a single sign, which may then get distinguished by colour or context. A bolt of lightning, which is a typical source of bush fires in the outback, can also be represented by this symbol. The ingredients of a storm that sends the precious flow of water to the dry stream beds might be shown in the artwork.