Anthropology and the Study of Art Essay by Mathilde

Anthropology and the Study of Art
This paper uses examples from the Highland New Guinea Arapesh's Tambaran cult to explain how anthropology adds to the study of art.
# 95991 | 1,770 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2006 | FR
Published on Jun 12, 2007 in Anthropology (Cultural) , Anthropology (Oceanic) , Art (History)

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This paper relates that, because art stimulates and sustains contemplation, it can be used to reinforce a religious attitude. This can be seen in the art representing Nggwal, an abstract religious idea of the Highland New Guinea Arapesh's Tambaran cult. The author points out that art represents a diagram of social order and therefore can be seen as a guide on how to behave properly. The paper further states that art can be seen as a form of communication that is focused on the preservation and the transmission of culture, customs and history to younger generations, such as the Nambweapa'w myth serving to remind the Tambarans that incest is taboo.

From the Paper:

"Moreover, art is used in Tambaran rituals, such as the initiation rite. When a novice enters the Nggwal Bunafunei grade, his senior gives him a painting of his Nggwal. This practice also illustrates the importance of the creator of the art. The artist may declare that his painting is "Sowambon or Wanimbea or some other named Nggwal". This is not because the portrait holds a resemblance to that spirit, but because the artist himself has declared it to be that particular spirit. As such, the creator's prerogative power is applied. Custom require the initiator to be personally involved in his novice's initiation..."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Hatcher, E. 1999. Art as culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art. Found on <>. Accessed 10.10.06.
  • Kottak, C. 2006. 'Chapter 22: The Arts'. In: Anthropology: The exploration of human diversity. Eleventh edition. New York: McGraw-Hill International Edition. pp. 493-511.
  • Tuzin, D. 1995. 'Art and procreative Illusion in the Sepik: Comparing the Abelam and the Arapesh'. Oceania, Vol. 65, No 4, pp. 289-303.
  • Tuzin, D. 1980. '6. Divine Artistry: The Power and Aesthetics of Self-Creation.' In: The Voice of the Tambaran: Truth and Illusion in Ilahita Arapesh Religion. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp.168-204.
  • Tuzin, D. 2001. Social Complexity in the Making. London: Routledge.

Cite this Essay:

APA Format

Anthropology and the Study of Art (2007, June 12) Retrieved December 04, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Anthropology and the Study of Art" 12 June 2007. Web. 04 December. 2023. <>