Native American Petroglyphs: Symbols and Meanings

Native American Petroglyphs: Symbols and Meanings

Native American petroglyphs and pictographs can be found all over the place. They can be found on t-shirts, mugs, blankets, brand logos, hats, sweatshirts, etc.

Native American petroglyphs offer a great deal of information. Some of that meaning is well-known, while members only know others of specific families. Many tribes lacked a written language and had to rely on oral tradition to keep their culture alive. These photos represent the culture’s relationship to the environment.

They mark sacred areas, issue warnings, indicate the presence of animals or plants, and are occasionally prophetic. However, elders are still learning about the meaning of individual petroglyphs, and they can only comprehend their meaning at specific periods of life.

Unfortunately, vandalism, changing weather patterns, and erosion have put petroglyphs and petroglyphs in jeopardy. Given the natural repercussions, scientists do everything they can to preserve these pictographs.

If you witness someone scraping, painting, or drawing on or near a petroglyph/pictograph, immediately contact your local police department and report it. Remember that these items were left for those who had not yet been born, and the Tribes want it to stay that way. However, that will be impossible if everyone feels compelled to express themselves artistically on or near them.

Native Americans did not communicate like we did today when European explorers came to America. Instead, they drew drawings and symbols and narrated stories (oral histories).

This kind of communication is not exclusive to Native Americans; even before writing, people worldwide used drawings and symbols to record events, ideas, plans, maps, and feelings on rocks, hides, and other surfaces.

Native American Petroglyphs: Meanings

Bear Paw Stud Earring

Native Americans did not communicate like we did today when European explorers came to America. Instead, they drew drawings and symbols and narrated stories (oral histories).

This kind of communication is not exclusive to Native Americans; even before writing, people worldwide used drawings and symbols to record events, ideas, plans, maps, and feelings on rocks, hides, and other surfaces.

In another type of communication, Native American petroglyphs were etched, pecked, or rubbed into stone surfaces. This carving could leave a noticeable indentation in the rock or cut deeply enough to expose unweathered material of a different color underneath.

Native American symbols were like words in that they had several definitions and connotations. Because the meanings of the symbols differ from tribe to tribe, it might be difficult to decipher them at times, while other symbols are apparent. Because Native American tribes spoke many languages, symbols or “picture writing” were frequently utilized for communicating words and concepts. Symbols were also used to decorate homes, paint buffalo hides, and keep track of major tribal events.

These images are a priceless record of cultural expression for current Native Americans and descendants of early Spanish settlers and possess significant spiritual value.

The advent of Spanish people in the Southwest around 1540 impacted the pueblo people’s way of life and Native American petroglyphs.

The Pueblo tribes revolted against Spanish control in 1680, driving the settlers out of the area and back to El Paso, Texas. The Spanish settled in the Albuquerque area of New Mexico in 1692. As a result of their return, the Catholic faith regained power, discouraging the Puebloans from participating in many of their ancient ceremonial rituals. As a result, many of these traditions went underground, and the Puebloans’ image-making declined significantly.

The Native American petroglyphs were made for various causes, most of which are unknown to current culture. Petroglyphs are more than “rock art,” “picture writing,” or an actual copy. They are not to be confused with hieroglyphics; symbols meant to symbolize language or ancient Indian graffiti. Instead, petroglyphs are significant cultural icons that reflect the neighboring cultures’ diverse lifestyles and faiths.

The context of each image is critical to understanding its meaning. The placement of each petroglyph artwork was not a careless or arbitrary decision, according to today’s native people. Some petroglyphs have hidden meanings that only the people who created them are aware of.

Others are cultural, tribal, clan, or kiva indicators. Some represent religious organizations, while others illustrate who has visited the region and where they have gone. Finally, while some petroglyphs have contemporary meaning, others have no known meaning but are revered as belonging to “those who came before.”

Thousands of pictographs and petroglyphs can be found across the United States, with the highest concentration in the American Southwest.

Archaeologists believe there are around 25,000 petroglyph images along the 17-mile escarpment at the monument. A small percentage of the petroglyphs discovered in the park predates the Puebloan period, possibly dating back to 2000 B.C. Other artwork, including petroglyphs carved by early Spanish settlers, date from the 1700s onwards.

The ancestors of today’s Pueblo people are said to have carved 90% of the monument’s petroglyphs.

The ancestors of today’s Pueblo people are said to have carved 90% of the monument’s petroglyphs. The Rio Grande Valley was the abode of Puebloans since around 500 A.D., but a population boom around 1300 A.D. resulted in a slew of new communities. As a result, most of the petroglyphs are thought to have been carved between around 1300 and the late 1680s.

The advent of Spanish people in 1540 had a significant impact on the pueblo people’s way of life. The Pueblo tribes revolted against Spanish control in 1680, driving the settlers out of the area and back to El Paso, Texas. The Spanish settled in the Albuquerque area in 1692. As a result of their return, the Catholic faith regained power, discouraging the Puebloans from participating in many of their ancient ceremonial rituals. As a result, many of these methods went underground, and the Puebloans’ ability to create images deteriorated. A small percentage of the petroglyphs discovered in the park predates the Puebloan period, possibly dating back to 2000 B.C. Other artwork, including petroglyphs carved by early Spanish settlers, date from the 1700s onwards.

Xinar proudly provides Native American-inspired sterling silver charms for charm bracelets, necklaces, and DIY crafts. So let’s pay homage by helping preserve their heritage.

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