Prehistoric Art: Devotional or Decorative? Essay

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Prehistoric Art: Devotional or Decorative?

For thousands of years human beings have created art. Whether it takes the form of pictures, sculptures, or other any other type of object, it has always been something thought to be particularly beautiful by the people of the culture that created it. However, for much of history these items were also meant to serve a practical purpose. From decorative bowls and clothing to illuminated manuscripts and illustrative murals, much early art was meant to serve a utilitarian as well as aesthetic purpose, feeding, clothing and educating those privileged enough to use it. As late as the middle ages painters were considered craftsmen, similar to those of any other trade, and in fact in some cultures
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However, these pieces, although beautiful, do not appear to have required a high level of training and practice, and in general do not seem to have taken a long time to create. Many were even created over a period of many years, and by many different people. It is not unreasonable to think that at a time when farming and the division of labor were becoming common, some people would have had free time to create beautiful things, which if not exactly useful might add a little enjoyment to a life that was usually hard and dangerous. This is especially easy to believe about pieces such as the painted bowls and decorative bronzes common in prehistoric China and Japan respectively; unlike the figurines and paintings they were intrinsically useful items which could easily have been decorated on a whim. The painted bowls in particular would probably have required only a few minutes to paint once the technology was discovered.

And while we have little evidence of what prehistoric religion was like in comparison to modern and historical forms, there are many examples of the trend towards secular ornamentation throughout recorded history. In the earliest historical societies such as Egyptian and early Near Eastern there were many different forms of art , including such decorative works as jewelry, portraits of rulers, narrative drawings of historical events, and decorative vessels as well as better known ceremonial
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