Dot painting is an Australian aboriginal art form. Most aboriginal art is more of a ritual involving secrecy, mystery and symbolism, than a purely artistic expression. And the same holds true for ‘dotting’ or dot painting.
Aboriginal dreamings are the stories of the history of the tribes that are narrated orally. They are the story of creation, about the life, people and animals of the tribe. These dreamings are passed on within a clan through a combination of music, painting, dance and singing.
Dot painting, is a way in which the aboriginal tribes narrate their history. The creation of a dot painting is a ritual that is accompanied by the singing of the dreamings.
The aboriginal dot painting depicts a story. It is often a representation of food gathering or hunting. It’s painted on the floor by the members of the clan, while the elders sing the dreamings. The dot painter creates the image by applying dots of various colors, using primitive tools such as sticks, Echidna quills and spikes. The paint is usually made of water or spittle mixed with rock pigments, crushed seeds and ochre.
The images appear as colorful patterns, but their meaning remains obscure to people outside the clan. This is because dot paintings are imbedded with aboriginal totems and symbols. As the elders of the clan sing, they explain these symbols.
There is no right way to view a dot painting. There is no horizontal or vertical dimension to it. It may even be placed flat. The beauty of a dot painting lies not simply in its aesthetically appealing colors and patterns, but in the rich tradition of history it carries, as well.