The Art of Oceania Nov. 13 - 15


In this unit we study the arts of the people of Oceania. That is the vast area of the Pacific Ocean including the continent of Australia and the islands stretching from Indonesia, to New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island.

Click here for the PDF of the handout Common Characteristics of The Art of Oceania

PowerPoint (PPT) presentations from class:

  1. The Art of Oceania Part One Here you will learn about the artworks created in Melanesia. These nclude the modern countries of Australia, Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands,

  2. The Art of Oceania Part Two Homework! Due November 15. Here you will learn about the artworks created in Micronesia and Polynesia. This includes the modern countries of the Marianna Islands, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island.

Click here to print out the slides from the presentations. Each is a PDF file formatted with six slides per page.

  1. PDF for Oceania Art 1 PPT November 13

  2. PDF for Oceania Art 2 PPT Novmenber 15

Required Readings:

  1. X-Ray Style in Arnhem Land Rock Art Homework! Due November 13. The "X-ray" tradition in Aboriginal art is thought to have developed around 2000 B.C. and continues to the present day. As its name implies, the X-ray style depicts animals or human figures in which the internal organs and bone structures are clearly visible.

  2. The Asmat Homework! Due November 13. Wood carving is a flourishing tradition among the Asmat, and wood carvers are held in high esteem. The culture hero Fumeripits is considered to be the very first wood carver, and all subsequent wood carvers (known as wowipits) have an obligation to continue his work.

  3. The Batak Homework! Due November 13. The Batak people are from Indonesia, on the island of Sumatra. They are famous for their textiles and ritual objects used by their spiritual leaders. The also have a wonderful tradition of puppet theaters.

  4. New Ireland Homework! Due November 15. The art of New Ireland traditionally centered on mortuary ceremonies and feasts to honor the dead. In northern New Ireland, the name given to these elaborate ceremonies is malagan, which is also the term used for the carved and painted sculptures associated with the ceremonies.

  5. Micronesia Homework! Due November 15. Micronesia is one of the three major culture areas of the Pacific. It is comprised of 2,500 islands located in the north Pacific Ocean, between Hawai'i and Japan. Despite the fact that the islands are scattered across 8 million square kilometers of ocean, a distinctive Micronesian style does exist. Functional forms, streamlined designs, and, in some cases, complex surface decoration characterize the art of this region.

Additional Resources:

  1. Easter Island The art of Easter Island is distinctively Polynesian, much of it centering on the creation of religious images. The most recognizable art form from Easter Island are its colossal stone figures, or moai, images of ancestral chiefs whose supernatural power protected the community. Between roughly 1100 and 1650, Rapa Nui carvers created some 900 of these sculptures, nearly all of which are still in situ.

  2. Musical Instruments of Oceania Oceanic musical instruments include many of the broad categories familiar in the West, such as percussion, wind, and string instruments, as well as forms that are distinctive to the region. These vary from familiar types such as drums, flutes, and the Hawaiian 'ukulele to unusual forms such as slit gongs and bullroarers.

  3. Solomon Islands The art of the Solomon Islands is characterized by its intricate designs which utilize inlays of pearl shell. Traditionally, these artworks were either signifiers of status and prestige, or related to funerary rituals.


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