The art of the Indian tribes of North America represents a powerful and imaginative expression of the arts of so-called primitive peoples. This first large-scale study in many years devoted to native American art offers exceptional insights into the religious impulses and tribal rituals that profoundly inspire these magnificent creative works.
Because both authors are ethnologists of Native American art, they give the reader an unusually perceptive understanding of the many symbols and forms that are an integral part of these extraordinary artifacts. Approaching this art as the concrete expression of the Indians' spiritual beliefs and aspirations--being able to perceive them as visual extensions of the deities and spirits that animate their world--the reader is plunged into an evocative and strangely stirring realm of magic, ritual, and myth. Thus, Hopi kachinas are seen not merely as exotic "dolls" decorated with dazzling colors and patterns, but also as representations of powerful spirits and deities. There are similar insights into the patterns and forms decorating rugs, pottery, basket ware, shell ornaments, silver and turquoise jewelry, masks and sculpture, and scores of other works that otherwise might be regarded as mere ethnic crafts.
North American Indian Art encompasses major tribal areas: the Southwest (kachinas, pottery, weaving, and silverwork); California (feather basketry, rock paintings); the Pacific Northwest (majestic totem poles, sculptured ornaments, and terrifying masks); the Eskimos of Canada and Alaska (bone animal sculpture, incised weapons and utensils, and extraordinarily delicate--often witty--masks); the Plains (bead and quill work, painted hides, and pipes) and Eastern Woodlands (embroidered garments and astonishing carved masks, still used today in curing ceremonies).
More than 200 lavish color plates from newly taken photographs bring to the artifacts an immediacy and dimension which, coupled with the telling text, offer a new comprehension of the aesthetic validity of the art of the Native Americans.