Visual Archaeology Interpretation



Aboriginal Dreamtime Painting

The land owns us; we don’t own the land.
The land owns us; we don’t own the land.
We are part of the land.
From the time we are children we learn the songs and stories about the land.
For thousands of years, these songs and stories have been part of the people’s oral tradition
and beliefs.

Grade Level 3
Art • English/Language Arts • Science

According to Aboriginal belief, all life as it is known today can be tracked to the Dreamtime or the era of Creation. During this time, their Great Spirit Ancestors undertook many amazing journeys that criss-crossed the vast country of Australia in a maze of tracks. They performed feats along the way, which established the natural formations of the Australian landscape as it is seen today. The events of this distant time have been passed down in the oral tradition of folklore and are still enacted in ceremonies that include dance in mime form to the accompaniment of clap sticks. The animals of Australia seem to be at the center of all Aboriginal art. They are the subjects of the Dreamtime myths and legends. The Aborigines have painted on walls of rock for at least a century. There is early evidence from the 18th century that Aboriginal families were creating paintings for use in rituals and oral traditions. Their painting technique has become more complicated today and is still practiced in Arnhem Land. Traditionally, the paints are earth tones and made from clay and rocks. Brushes were created from chewed twigs, plant stems and hair. The subject matter varies from everyday activities of Dreamtime, in which stories describe creation beings in their animal and human form. The x-ray style is derived from cave paintings. The inside may not be medically correct, but they paint it the way they imagine it to be.

Australian Museum Online Stories of the Dreaming

Aboriginal Art Online

Central Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal Dreaming Stories

Aboriginal Dreamtime Lesson Plan


Aboriginal Dreamtime


















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Copyright ©2004 Linda Kreft