Why would prehistoric humans decorate an object?
Is it not true that often we, even in this present day, find life difficult to bear? And is it not also true that, amidst it all, we find solace in the beauty of a glance, passing over an object that reflects that hidden beauty which lies below the surface of all things whether they be created or uncreated by human hands? I believe that this was and still remains the reason why humans have always sought to decorate the mundane, the ordinary, the practical. In decorating an object, the maker imbues it with a new nature, a nature of love, of beauty, for in desiring to make his creation more beautiful, the creator hid within the object a piece of his soul. Those of us who glance at that created object, then, hold within our hands not only a piece of history, but the musings of another man.
Prehistoric humans might have decorated an object because they wanted something to do with the time they had. Our generation is still a little boring and we have had so much development since the prehistoric time. If life is boring now, I can’t imagine how it must’ve been during the prehistoric times. They probably decorated walls and made sculptures because they didn’t many options to fulfill the time they had. They also probably wanted to create new things and the things they did create, have been developed and is still being used today.
Symbols are essential to communication between humans. Because of this, prehistoric humans likely decorated objects in order to tell a story, lesson, or to convey a message to others in their community or surrounding communities. For example, many prehistoric humans acquired their food by hunting animals. Therefore, designs prehistoric humans painted on objects- especially those that showed or represented animals- presumably taught others hunting techniques or animal behaviors (Stokstad, Cothren 9). In another theory, historians and archeologists have discovered that the pleasure of aesthetics is innate in humans. Thus, prehistoric humans may have decorated an object not for a practical function but purely for the desire to make the object more visually pleasing (Stokstad, Cothren 9).
We will never know or understand why prehistoric humans decorated objects that they created. We can take a guess though. My guess would be similar to the reason some of us create art in the present. They decorated objects, themselves and caves to express themselves. Prehistoric humans did not have complex languages like we have today so they decorated to tell stories about their lives because they could not tell it out loud.
Being that territory may have been a great issue during the prehistoric times, decorating an object with a specific article, color or style may have been a signal of pride of territory or dominance. Decorating in such a way could also be a tool of acknowledging a certain group, people, or holding a significance throughout that group.
I think a major reason that prehistoric people may have decorated objects was for entertainment. Entertainment is an integral part of life, both for modern day and prehistoric people. In modern day, people have a wide variety of forms of entertainment to choose from that are easily accessible (i.e. television, music, videogames). Prehistoric people (and people living in developing countries today) did not have so many entertainment options. Therefore, it would be likely that prehistoric people would decorate objects for the fun of doing so and for the entertainment provided by admiring decorated objects.
Prehistoric peoples may have decorated objects and areas in order to demonstrate possession of an object. Even modern people enjoy decorating living spaces in our own unique manners to make them less plain and differentiate them from other people’s spaces. This is done in part to personalize the space and display ownership of it. We do the same with objects that hold significant personal value to us. It is most likely that prehistoric humans would decorate items for the same reasons. Caves in paintings, intricate decorations on pottery, or engravings on tools or weapons, prehistoric humans probably chose to decorate their items in these ways in order to mark ownership and signify that the items held special value to them.
The carvings or decorations may have held symbolic meaning for those who created them through their interactions with nature and other humans. Since the people of the era were beginning to communicate more with different “tribes”, they must have found ways to show that they were open to interaction. Maybe they chose to convey these traits through their “art”/ decorations and jewelry (the decorated objects).
Another reason could be spiritual: maybe they felt that what they interacted with in nature could be appeased/pleased if they acknowledged its existence (like wanting protection from predators).
Perhaps the prehistoric humans like us today utilized art as a way of expressing their humanity – an avenue for humans to fulfill some fundamental desire that leads us to create and seek what is good and beautiful. Along the same lines, prehistoric humans could have used art as a method of intentionally documenting pieces of their particular culture, integrating its values and standards or the artist’s culturally influenced aspirations. This method oversteps every language barrier and enables communication and distinction between peoples across the years. Whether an enduring narrative was intentional or not, by viewing their art today we continue a timeless conversation with the prehistoric artists about themselves and their culture.
Prehistoric people could have decorated objects for any number of reasons. These could have ranged from aesthetic purposes, to religious symbols or even been a way of identifying property. Personally I believe that the answer is a mix of all of these. By already being a showcase of skill, anytime art is made, even for simply aesthetic purposes, it fulfills multiple roles. Unfortunately the best that the archaeological society will ever be able to do is take educated guesses at the use and meaning behind unearthed artifacts.
I think that since the sun rose on man on the earth he has been incredibly curious about himself and how he fits into the big picture. I cannot say why prehistoric people would decorate an object (none of us can for sure) but I have a few ideas on why. 1) Humans are inherently creative. Perhaps early humans decorated objects as an outworking of that inherent creativity. 2) We are fascinated by our surroundings. Last month my wife and I took a trip into the Alaskan wilderness. The immensity and majesty of the world we found ourselves in was awesome. We “modern” humans have a more matured understanding of our place in the world (some of us anyways) but my wife and I both found ourselves struck by the beauty, ruggedness, danger and power of the natural world. 3) Perhaps prehistoric humans decorated objects as a way of recording, understanding and passing on the knowledge they had acquired.
I really like your comment on people being facinated by the world around them. I agree with this statement because I know that prehistoric peoples would have been astonished by the ancient world. There was so little known about science and the real world then so they had to have been in awe of their surroundings. I also like your point about decorating objects as a way of passing on knowledge. This would make sense because of the lack of a system of writing.
Prehistoric humans could find many reasons to decorate any number of things. One way that seems obvious to me is that those that had more power within the tribe would want to be distinguished in some way, they would want other tribes or animals to fear them. So these members of the society would decorate themselves to appear scarier to others and as a status symbol. Another reason could have been that they simple were fascinated by certain creatures and wanted to replicate them or honor their spirits in some way. There are many many reasons that prehistoric humans could have decorated objects and it is impossible know for certain.
Prehistoric artists, like many of their modern counterparts, observed the world around them and recorded these observations through a physical medium. However, the world of prehistoric man was full of danger, terror, and mystery. It is possible that, by recreating the animals around them, prehistoric people felt as if they were able to gain some control over their surroundings. Perhaps the decorations found on the spear thrower from France were meant to protect or comfort the hunter. The various menageries found within ancient caves may have given the viewer some sense of power over the animals depicted. I can only imagine the terror one might have felt at the thought of being hunted by a wild predator. By transmuting that fear through art, prehistoric man might have been able to find some comfort within their harsh existence.
Though these people were from a different time, we still have many things in common with them. For example, art. We enjoy adding pieces of beauty into our lives even if we have to make it ourselves. Prehistoric peoples most likely wanted to mark their territory by creating specific designs within their community. They could have used their art to show off their talent to draw others toward their home or community. They also could have used their art to show off their religion’s symbols.
In my opinion, I believe prehistoric artists used objects as a base of their work due to creativity. People want to make their work stand out so that you will remember it. Versus constructing work on a simple piece of paper, a board, etc. I also thought that it might have been a way for them to communicate with each other. The object they use could also have a sentimental value behind it. In other words, the object itself has a meaning behind it and the actual decorate will have a meaning as well so that the whole piece connects as one.
In my opinion, prehistoric humans decorated objects to show their observance of the world. These humans were so fascinated in the aspect of life and wanted to recreate it. I believe that these humans decorated objects to tell stories and messages to others. I believe these prehistoric humans didn’t entirely recognize these pieces as art, but instead, a way of survival.
The reason why modern people advocate minimalism is because the present society is too impetuous, objects are decorated with too much unnecessary luxury. But in prehistoric time, one must hunt and hide each day in order to survive, there is not much leisure time for playing or dancing. Decorating objects become their relaxation. The decorations don’t need to be done all at once. Historical humans can carry their destructions around, and advocate them whenever and wherever they are available. At the same time, decorating objects is also a symbol of status. Decorating objects was a time-consuming and costly affair. People decorate objects only when their food and safety are guaranteed. In other words, only those who have enough to eat would trade food for decorations.
Prehistoric humans probably decorated objects in order to beautify their world. Humans have an innate longing for what is beautiful and true. By painting their caves and sculpting their atlatls, they probably were able to partially fulfill both these desires. Art can also be a way to think or communicate, both with oneself and with others. Drawing or painting something causes the artist to think more about their subject. It could also be a way to communicate with other people as we mentioned in class.
I think that there are a plethora of reasons why they decorated their homes, the simplest being they may have just liked it. I know that my dorm looked plain before I hung up some art, and I still want more! They also may have painted these animals to conjure up hunting magic. Maybe they thought that these drawings would help them take down a buffalo. They also could have been teaching others about the animals and making plans on how to take them down.
I think the reason the peoples of Pre-History decorated objects was because they believed if they decorated it, they may gain favor of the patron god or increase the chance of a successful hunt. By decorating it, the people were placing a part of their personality and spirituality in the object, and rising it above the level of the ‘human plane.’
As there is no written history from the prehistoric time explaining the use of prehistoric art or symbols everything that is known about the use for these decorations and embellishments must be inferred. Though the pieces may have been created for simply visual pleasure, I believe the decorations had a deeper meaning. This work could have been used as a means of communication between individuals within the same “village” or with those from other areas. By decorating a cave wall, the images used could help in the telling of a story, in teaching others about the land or certain activities, or in warning of a danger. Carved and sculpted items with embellishments may have served as a sort of label to distinguish tribes or even to distinguish special abilities or status.
Many scientists agree that humans have an aesthetic impulse, so prehistoric humans may have decorated their surroundings to make it more appealing. This is somewhat similar to why we create art today. These people may have wanted something beautiful to look at, and be proud that they created it with their own hands. They may have also used these decorations and paintings to tell stories about their lives, or warn others about what kind of dangers there are in the area.
Up until the Sumerians, there wasn’t a written language to share the past with the new generations. By using drawings instead it is a uniform way to share information with others. Drawing a bear in a cave with a red-ish color could lead others to teach that bears are dangerous and the red tones used could signify blood and danger.
I also think they used drawings as a form of entertainment. As seen in the caves where light flickered to make it seem as if the animals were moving, it could be seen as an early form of cinema where someone would tell a story as others watched the fire made the art dance.
I believe that Prehistoric humans decorated objects for a variety of reasons.
During this time, there wasn’t much to do – so art was a big thing. They created objects and made them look as “pretty” as they possibly could. This would take hours and a majority of their time.
I also believe they decorated objects because some of the objects were toys. If the adults were bored during this time, you definitely know the kids were too. These objects were made for kids as toys to keep them occupied.
Finally, I believe they also have detail to tell stories. Communication was hard during this time period so they used it through art. They would draw animals and much more to warn people if there was danger. You would need detail to understand what the warning was so they would “decorate” their drawings such as the bear we saw in class.
Decorating art allows for expression that is unique and personal to the creator/artist. Art decoration is the medium used by people to discover new ways to create something and develop techniques. Decoration adds detail that allows for others to clearly identify aspects of the piece that is unique to period, location, and creator.
While decorating an object may have had educational or narrative benefits, I believe that the main factor driving prehistoric people to create art was the urge to create something that would outlast them. In the modern era we are surrounded by things we have made that we know reflect us and will outlive us, weather it is a work of art or our twitter feed. However, for prehistoric people, almost every object they used would not have lasted for very long, and would definitely not have shown any reflection of their personality. By decorating objects like stone carvings or the walls of a cave, in a way that only they could, these people where creating a sort of legacy for themselves by creating something unique to them that would live on past their death.
When analyzing this question, I thought to myself “Why do I like to decorate objects?”. I’ve come to the conclusion that, aside from the educational aspect, pre-historic human beings decorated objects for individuality. For example, the atlatl we analyzed in class that had two animals with no heads. Of course at this time, there were many atlatls and I am sure a lot of people knew how to create one. However, the creator of this certain atlatl crafted this with perfect detail. He added his own “spice” or individuality, to the design of his weapon, making it stand out from the others.
Primitive humans may have been decorating objects because of cognitive development and new practices in human culture. Neurological development in visual display could have been one of the first forms of communication among cultures. Decorated objects could have been created for aesthetic pleasure or for ritual significance. The patterns or [animal] shapes may have severed as purpose to the prehistoric perspective by specifying a specific group or tribes territory. Following the evolution of technical skills, modern cognition skills would have allowed primitive humans to make representations of colors, patterns, shapes, and actions.
Prehistoric humans would decorate objects to show their appreciation for their time. Etching and painting patterns and animals/ portraits onto objects or caves would suggest that they were documenting what they were seeing for future generations to see. Which we could call an encyclopaedia of the prehistoric time. With artists from any era, everyone has a different reason to be making their art, it could purely be because they were bored, or that they got pure joy by using the different tools available to them.
There are several reasons for prehistoric people to decorate objects. Aside from simply enjoying beauty, it can be used as a method of communication. Teaching children what animals look like and how to hunt them, leave behind a marker for others to know what dangers may lie in a particular area, or to show others that they were there. Lots of prehistoric art is very animal concentric, so the last option may be less likely. Just as well, they tend to focus more on larger animals, who are prey or perhaps threats, rather than smaller less consequential creatures. It may also be a method to impress one another and display skills.
The reason prehistoric people might have decorated an object is dependent on what that object is, though I’m sure there might be some overlap. Cave paintings might have been used as historical records, or- as some of my peers have said- a way to teach children or even other members of a group about certain animals or people. In regards to weaponry and small statues, I feel those had more of a religious or identifying purpose, though they as well could have been used for storytellling. Naturally, the possibility exists that prehistoric people decorated for art’s sake, simply trying to make beauty in what was (and arguably still is) a harsh and unforgiving world.
When one enters someones home, they look around and marvel at all the things that the other has. One looks at their big white couch or flat screen television. People are striving to make their lives look bigger and better than the next person. These prehistoric figures were most likely decorating objects in order to make their lives look decorative and bigger and better than the next. One could image a woman who has beautifully decorated a pot to carry her water showing it off to all of her friends. Decorating their everyday tools made their lives appear more valuable. Just like today we want beautiful things in our live or the brand new version of the iPhone in order to make our lives look more desirable.
There are many reasons as to why prehistoric humans began to decorate objects. One broad reason is to help understand the world around them. For example, with the Woman of Willhendorf statue, one reason that the small scultpure was made could be to look at an image of oneself in a time that there was no mirrored glass. The way the Woman of Willhendorf is sculpted suggests that the woman who made it was looking down at herself and sculpted it in her own image, which could mean that it was created to solidify the early human’s sense of self and sense of womanhood. Another reason that prehistoric man would decorate an object is to express something of cultural significance. Before written language, it is more than likely that early humanity used cave paintings to tell stories to future generations. Some cave paintings of animals have penetration marks in them, suggesting that they were also used as a means to train probably children to handle a spear. One final reason for decorating an object is to give it originality or a personal touch; such as an early example of a spear thrower with two interlocking ibexes sculpted into it.
It may never be determined why prehistoric humans would decorate an object. Some reasons may be about prehistoric humans wanting to explain the unexplainable or to understand the world better. They also may have used the decorations as communication amongst themselves, to other groups, or as ritualistic or spiritualistic means of communication. This might also be ways that prehistoric humans expressed and educated themselves. It is difficult to make assumptions about prehistoric people because we may never understand their reasons and meanings and behind the decorations.
Decorating objects shows attachment or attraction to a piece of art or to an object. Decorations signify meaning. A decoration could mean a warning, an interest in something, or something that is particularly important to survival. A warning might be drawn inside a cave to signify some sort of danger in the area. An interest in a particular type of plant or animal may result in paintings or illustrations of the object. An important food or tool for survival may be drawn in order to keep documentation of a survival tool. Decoration shows passion. An everyday tool does not need to be decorated but if the creator chooses to decorate it, the decoration shows that they put time and energy into the creation. Decorating an object helps to show ownership and possession. Everyone has a different style of art, like a signature and that particular style gives a sense of labeling and showing whose work it is. I think prehistoric humans decorated objects for a variety of reasons, but each reason shows a level of passion, or understanding for the object and life surrounding the object.
Prehistoric humans may have decorated objects because they believed it gave them a certain meaning. They may have believed that decorating objects gave them some amount of power. Decorated objects may also have been used as teaching devices or distinguishing one tribe from another. There is also the possibility that they just wanted to make toys for themselves or their children.
Prehistoric people decorated objects for many purposes. For example, the animals depicted in the Chauvet Cave give us a sense that these people might have been warning others or possibly teaching their children about the animals. Also, since language wasn’t as advanced as it is today, they most likely showed their stories by decorating the walls as a form of communication towards others. Other decorated objects like the small Horse made of mammoth ivory looks like it would be a child’s toy because it looks like the perfect object to keep a child distracted and occupied in order to protect them from dangers of that time period. Despite being primarily for aesthetic purposes, decorated objects can clearly be used in a variety of ways.
Prehistoric humans most likely painted and decorated objects to share their imaginations. Decorating objects gave them an outlet to share their ideas. These artifacts may also have given these people something to do in the night time while they were taking refuge from the harsh environment. Cave paintings and sculptures are primary sources that delve into the minds and thoughts of these people. Analyzing Prehistoric art discovers individualistic ideals of these neanderthals. Some of their decorations were also used as tools and this shows how creative these people were in ancient times. All in all, Prehistoric humans had many uses for decorating and expressing their artistic ideals.
Prehistoric humans likely decorated objects for several different reasons depending on the object. One of these reasons may be that they overtime evolved to the point where they understood and recognized aesthetic beauty and as a result begun to create objects with both function and visual interest. Another reason may be that prehistoric humans began observing the world closely and began creating stories of how the world works and as a result decorating objects and creating pieces that connected to these stories or to respect upper beings that they may have believed in. These objects with this type of decoration also remain as a form of recording these stories and beliefs . Overall, prehistoric humans might have decorated objects because of their recognition of aesthetically pleasing objects and a need to communicate their stories and ideas.
Prehistoric humans could have decorated objects as a means of representation of their prestige and status. If a human had a higher social status than another, they could label their objects using a symbolic material or a symbolic code. This labeling ultimately would have stood as tangible proof of the social hierarchy. Also, a prehistoric human could’ve decorated objects as a form of broadcasting their artistic ability. Just the mere creation of making this object more decorative than another could have added an element of satisfaction.
All humans seek pleasure. One of the most refined sources is found in art, the joy stemming from creating simply beautiful objects with its only purpose being to please and satisfy the longing for art all humans intrisncally have. The prehistoric humans had no utilitarian purpose for their decorations other than to gratify needs that all humans of any age share.
It is impossible to know the exact reasons why a prehistoric human would choose to decorate an object, because by their very definition, these people lived in a time prior to any ability to record an explanation for us. If we try to see from their perspective, though, it seems that they probably decorated objects for the same reasons we do. These decorations, existing before a written word, may have been desirable as a way to communicate ownership, or a way to show off power and wealth.
Though this is a likely answer, these works might also have been a way for artists to feel fulfilled, knowing that they would leave some part of themselves behind to be seen after they were gone. If that was their goal, they certainly succeeded, as we study the works of unknown creators who lived and died tens of thousands of years ago. Maybe the same inner drive that allowed prehistoric humans to innovate for survival also motivated them to search for meaning and purpose.
Prehistoric humans could have decided to decorate objects purely as a means of entertainment during downtimes, but I believe it could have been more likely for communication. The “Woman of Willhendorf”, for example, could have been used to communicate that families and women lived in a certain area and that it was safe for them there, as opposed to possibly a tribe of dangerous people where women and children might not be safe. In class we discussed that this object could have been a symbol for fertility. I think that decorating objects like this to symbolize a goal (in this case fertility) is a way of communication. I doubt it was easy to communicate at this time in human history for people without written languages and complicated, diverse tribal spoken communication. When two tribes crossed paths, items that were decorated with certain animals or commonly understood images like a woman, could have been used to find tribes that were friendly. While some of the prehistoric pieces look pretty and are visually appealing to us, the images that decorated these objects could have just saved a life through non-verbal communication with foreign tribes.
Prehistoric humans may have decorated an object to show off a certain skill that they had discovered. At this point in time humans are gathering together and finding out what skills some people are better at. The more artistic of them start to experiment with materials to see which can do what, which explains some of the flaws we see in prehistoric works.
Prehistoric humans desired a way to express themselves, record events, and communicate. Due to the nature of prehistoric developments many hindering factors obstructed the effectiveness of this human desire. Pleasures we enjoy today are contributed to shared knowledge, modern technology, and systematic language; without these abilities, prehistoric humans pursued pioneering creatives. Storytelling was an essential way to learn, pictures portrayed images, and objects represented tangible ways to not only teach, but commune with their surroundings. The objects decorated by prehistoric humans implicate motives reflecting the essential human nature design at the root of its core.
People in prehistoric times would most likely decorate objects in my opinion, to be able to tell stories through art. If there wasn’t writing or a proper language, I think a lot of how they expressed themselves was through art work. If a woman was pregnant, she might decorate an object with male or female attributes, if she wished to give birth to a specific gendered. In cave man days there was cave art to show warnings of something like a volcano etc . I think that they also probably decorated objects to wish good luck or hope if someone was sick. They did not have medicine to help them, so if someone survived a sickness, it was (for lack of a better term) magic to them. There is also the chance they decorated objects, in hopes of being remembered.
Truly excellent artwork has to hold some sort of meaning to the viewer as well as the artist. That being said, artwork tends to represent the artist themselves in their own personal style. This allows viewers to also see themselves in the artwork and identify with it making it all the more impactful. I believe that prehistoric humans decorated objects because they desired to reflect on themselves and make their objects more relevant and powerful. This cannot be done without adding depth to an object through decoration.
There is no definite way to know the exact motives of why prehistoric humans decorated objects, but I believe that they may have done so for multiple reasons. The first reason is for entertainment. I would assume that hunting and cooking would become boring and monotonous chores after a while, and so sculpting and painting would most likely become good forms of entertainment. Another reason for decorating would maybe be a sign of a higher status, for example, someone who had more jewelry or craftables and decorations on their weapons would be seen as more superior due to their looks. The last reason that I could think of would be as a way of documentation or communication to other groups of people. If some groups of prehistoric people didn’t share the same language, having a visual representation of what they were trying to say would be a better method of communication.
The prehistoric humans would most likely decorate objects for the sentimental value and for having control over the design. They probably really enjoyed it. From the artifacts we have, we an see how observant they were in their every day life. Prehistoric humans also may have done it for story telling and for inherited objects to be passed down through the family. They could have done it to keep track of time, data, ideas, and more. Today, we like to have our homes and rooms decorated, its pleasing to see and it makes your home or room original and different from your neighbors. Decorating an object gives it value and they could’ve traded it for other goods they may have needed. Their art helps us today to see what life was like back then and helps us to see into their lives from a different perspective. We can see what great imaginations they had all those years ago and we can see how maybe being in a secluded area such as a cave would get boring, so they might have decorated it to be able to have fun and spend time as a family decorating their home. Maybe, they would decorate areas to warn others of animals that could harm them.
Prehistoric humans might have decorated objects for a multitude of reasons. One reason could be to tell stories of the daily life and events that would happen to the different tribes. Decorating objects with scenes of war and hunts can help teach the next generation of warriors and hunters. Another reason for decorating objects could simply be because they thought it looked pretty. Humans are naturally drawn to objects that are aesthetically pleasing. Being able to decorate various objects is also a form of self expression.
I believe Paleolithic humans decorated objects commonly with symbols of fertility or animals because that is what mattered to them most. Without fertility, they wouldn’t exist in the first place; and without food, they would simply starve. The subjects of their art would have to be extremely important to warrant taking time out of their daily survival-based activities just for something that wouldn’t directly aid in their survival.
I think that prehistoric beings would decorate items in order to tell a story or as a symbol to their god or gods. For example cave people would decorate caves in order to tell stories of animals or of their own people or when they would make statues for their gods. It takes a lot of time and skill in order to do these art forms especially back when they didn’t have the resources and knowledge, so for people to take a lot of time to make these art pieces it must have been of very big importance to them.
The prehistoric being decorated objects for the same reasons we decorate objects, to be able to express themselves. They did it to see just how creative they can be. To be able to take an object and create something new. Most of the art from this timelines were something that represents gratitude to their gods. The idea of displaying a daily routine, something that represented their tribes and their way of life, their love of life and their hatred of life on some cases.
The significance of decorating objects has always been present, within all cultures throughout history. Decorations can express a certain peoples identity or tell a story. In many cases decorations were used as religious symbols, sometimes to praise a god or higher being or sometimes to tell a religious story. Additionally it could be used to honor someone who had died. Decorations like this could be found in tombs and burial chambers. Regardless of the reason, its given us a wonderful opportunity to glance back into that time period and exam what life was like for these individuals.
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