Native American Early Art Symbols

Interested in Native American early art symbols? Want to know what each Native American symbol means? Read on to discover a list of some of the most popular symbols used throughout history…

Developed hundreds of years ago Native American art symbols have stood the test of time. The Natives have put in great effort to preserve these ancient symbols which hold a sacred place amongst their culture. Some of the most prominent Native American Early Art Symbols are as follows:

Arrow Symbols

Arrow symbols are perhaps the earliest and most popular Native American symbols of all. Arrow symbols take on many different forms and their meanings change according to the way they are depicted. When pointing to the right the arrow takes on the meaning of protection and when pointing to the left it stands for warding against evil. The arrow head on its own is a symbol for alertness whereas crossed arrows depict friendship.

Feather Symbols

Feathers of exotic birds and eagles in particular occupied a sacred place in Native American culture. Feathers were used as symbols of prayers as well as marks of honor. They represented a creative force and were used to adorn headdresses, bonnets and War Shirts in particular. Some of the most commonly used feathers in Native American art include feathers from the bald and gold eagle as well as geese and turkey. They were used in various forms such as in bands, bares, decorated or plain as design elements in Native art work.

Feather arrangements in circles were a common feature on early works of pottery. Various feathers were also used to adorn prayer sticks as well.

Animal Symbols

An extensive range of animal symbols are scattered all over Native American art. Different animals had different symbolic meanings but in general frogs and other water based animals were taken as signs of renewal and fertility. The bear for example was a symbol of strength and also represented the direction north. The deer on the other hand represented sacrifice and the turtle as a sign of long life etc.

The use of animals varied according to the theme and nature of the art work. Animal symbols with virtuous meanings were used to decorate those items that were gifted as medals of Honor to warriors. On the other hand animal symbols that stood for protection and warding off evil were often used on home decoration items.

Bird Symbols

The Native Americans had a deep fascination with birds. Water birds symbolized renewal of life and wisdom. The Natives even had a mythological character of the thunderbird which is believed to be a massive bird, the flapping of whose wings caused thunder. The image of this bird was frequently painted onto dancing sticks and medicine shields.

Hummingbirds on the other hand represented mated pairs and stood as a symbol of devotion. They were often featured on flutes and other musical instruments. Parrots were considered to be sacred birds and thus found them selves to be represented on religiously oriented works of art.

Other prominent Native American early art symbols include those inspired by snakes, the world of insects, the botanical world, animal tracks, natural forces, objects, spirits and patterns.

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