The Arts of Daily Life In The Cultures & Respective Time Periods Research Paper

In many cultures, crafts and art are inseparable, and objects used in daily life are also highly regarded as objects of religious, cultural and other significance. These objects are called the arts of daily life. The major goal of this paper is to develop an understanding of how arts of daily life or objects of daily life are expressed in the cultures and respective time periods.

  1. Prehistoric art

Prehistoric art reflects the traditions, values and beliefs of prehistorical cultures.  The arts of daily life that refer to prehistoric art include cave paintings, tomb murals, statues, stone tools, potteries, necklaces, early sculpture and architecture, etc. As a rule, the works of art produced in the Stone Age, the Paleolithic period, the Mesolithic period, and the Neolithic period illustrate the application of human creativity and practicality. The arts of daily life of prehistorical period reflect the invention of writing, advent of metalwork and stonework (Bahn 87). The daily activities of prehistoric people, such as hunting and gathering, can be found in the cave paintings and tomb murals. They depicted humans and animals. One of the examples is the detail from the Lascaux Caves paintings (See Fig. 1). This cave painting is one of the oldest paintings known. The representation of a running horse surrounded by arrows stands for hunting, one of the daily activities of prehistoric people.

Fig. 1 The Lascaux Caves paintings, 16.000-14.000 B.C.

  1. Art of the Ancient Near East

Art of the Ancient Near East is represented by a wide range of arts of daily life, which include the images of animals and humans. As the interactions with animals played an important role in the world of the ancient people of the Near East, many pieces of art are connected with daily activities, mainly hunting. The ancient people of the Near East depicted the dangerous wild animals, beasts and exotic animals from distant lands. One of the examples is a marble statue that represents a mouflon from the highland regions of the Near East (See Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Recumbent mouflon, Mature Harappan period, ca. 2600–1900 B.C., The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This sculpture was used as the element of decoration. In general, the arts of daily life of this period include not only marble sculptures, but also painted pottery, carved stone, metalwork, ceremonial axes, etc. (Collon 87).

  1. Art of Ancient Egypt

Art of Ancient Egypt includes the painting, sculpture and architecture produced by the people of Ancient Egypt from 3000 BC to 100 AD. The main characteristic of Ancient Egyptian art is symbolism and high style of art. The arts of daily life of this period include the pieces used in tombs and monuments. Many of these pieces place emphasis on the significance of life after death. One of the examples is the bust of Nefertiti (See Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Thutmose, Bust of Nefertiti, 1345 BC, Egyptian Museum of Berlin

The major themes revealed in the arts of daily life of this period include the representation of the protective deities and the gods and goddesses of the underworld, as well as Egyptian Pharaohs. The spoon is the form of a young girl carrying a vase is one of the examples of close connection between arts and crafts (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 4. Spoon in the form of a young girl carrying a vase, Louvre

 There were many tomb paintings that showed daily activities of the deceased (Robins 80).

  1. Art of the Ancient Aegean

Art of the Ancient Aegean (3000 – 1100 B.C) reflects the culture of Aegean civilization of the Grecian islands. This culture consists of unique sub-cultures: the Cycladic, the Minoan, and the Mycenaean. The art works include the pieces of abstract depictions of forms, with the depictions of natural world and architectural innovations of citadels. The arts of daily life of this period include marble figures of ordinary people (females and males), bowls, pots, vases, etc. (See Fig. 4).

Fig. 5. Seated harp player, ca. 2800–2700 B.C.; Early Cycladic I–II Cycladic; Grotta-Pelos culture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In general, the art of the Ancient Aegean is unique due to simplicity of forms, harmony of parts and preservation of proportions (Preziosi & Hitchcock 150). As a rule, marble statuettes were located on grave sites. Many objects used in daily life of people of the Ancient Aegean civilization, such as statues and pottery had cultural significance.

  1. Art of Ancient Greece

The art of Ancient Greece had a strong influence on the cultural development of many countries of the world because of the Greek domination. The objects of cultural and religious significance that were used in daily life included metal vases, jars, bowls, coins, pottery, amulets, masks, offering tables, etc. The art of daily life is expressed in the culture of Ancient Greece, reflecting the established Greek traditions, aesthetics, cultural values and religion. Many objects were painted in bright colors, depicting the figures of deities, gods and goddesses (See Fig. 5). These objects had religious significance.

Fig. 6. Black-figure olpe (wine vessel) by the Amasis Painter, depicting Herakles and Athena, c. 540 BC, Louvre

As a rule, many objects of daily life used by the people of Ancient Greece civilization, such as pots and bowls were mass-produced products of rather low quality (Sacks et al. 279). When pottery became an industry in Ancient Greece, pottery painting lost its religious and cultural significance.

  1. Etruscan and Roman Art

Etruscan Art, c. 1000-500 BCE and Roman Art, 509 BCE- 476 BCE reflect Roman cultural traditions. The pieces of art created by craftsmen as the objects of daily life were decorated based on the traditional approaches to decoration. The items presented in the museum collections include vases, cups, tools, jewelry and other arts of daily life used by people from Etruria and Rome. One of the examples is the cup with two handles, decorated by the images of the scenes of natural world (See Fig. 7).

photography by mma, Digital File
retouched by film and media (jnc) __

Fig. 7. Globular cup with two handles, last quarter of 6th century B.C., EtruscanTerracotta, The Metropolitan Museum

Craftsmen from Etruria and Rome used ceramics, stone, wood, bronze, silver, ivory and other materials to create their pieces. There is much evidence that crafts and art were inseparable in these cultures.

  1. Jewish and Early Christian Art

Jewish and Early Christian Art is the art produced by Christians. The art works are influenced by the Christian patronage from the earliest period of Christianity to 260 – 525 BCE. The objects of daily life that refer to this period of art history had Christian meaning. For example, Early Christian Catacomb art works contain the scenes from the Bible in an abbreviated form. Craftsmen depicted scenes in both symbolic and allegorical forms (See Fig. 8).

Fig. 8. Bowl with Saints Peter and Paul, ca. 350, Early Christian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The objects of daily life had religious and cultural significance because craftsmen revealed the themes of Christianity in their works. Jewish and Christian symbols became the elements of design, including such symbolic images and scenes as Adam and Eve, sacrifice of Isaac, trials of Jesus, etc. (Kleiner 241).

  1. Byzantine art

Byzantine art refers to the art of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as to the art of the nations that are closely connected with the empire’s culture. Although the empire lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, many states in Europe and some states of the eastern Mediterranean preserved the established cultural traditions, which were reflected in artworks. The objects of daily life were produced in the style of Byzantine art.

Fig. 9. Ivory casket with images of Cupids (10th century), Walters Art Museum

The objects of daily life created by Byzantine craftsmen were made of stone, ivory, metal and bone. Special attention was paid to the selection of decorative elements, such as carved figures and scenes, which were aimed at commemorating historical events and religious ceremonies (Silberman 243).

  1. Islamic art

Islamic art is closely connected with religious traditions of such countries as Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Persia, and Afghanistan (Kleiner 122).  Craftsmen from these countries contributed their works to the culture of Muslims, their honoring of Muhammad, as well as to various designs, such as geometric complex designs. Special attention was paid to the use of materials that could be combined with rich decorative elements. Islamic craftsmen used their skills to produce the objects made of metal, wood, glass, ivory and bronze.

Fig. 10. The Lamp enclosed in Glass.” Syria or Egypt. 15th century. 33 x 25 cm. Courtesy of the Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic Art.

For example, the objects of daily life made of metal, ceramic, and glass were decorated by costly materials like gold and silver, rock crystal, jade, and ivory (See Fig. 10). In addition, craftsmen used calligraphy to decorate their art pieces (Kleiner 122).

  1. Art of South and Southeast Asia before 1200

Art of South and Southeast Asia before 1200 reflects the cultural traditions of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Java, Cambodia and other Asian countries. Craftsmen from these countries used various techniques to produce the objects of daily life, which reflected cultural norms, religious rituals and historical events; therefore, the objects of daily life had significant cultural value.

Fig. 11. Indian bowl, Art of South and Southeast Asia before 1200 

In general, the artworks produced by the craftsmen from South and Southeast Asia before 1200 were characterized as simple and easy to interpret. The objects of daily life included pottery (canteens, bowls, stone fetishes, basket water jugs, plates, etc.), tools, jewelry, etc.

  1. Chinese and Korean art before 1279

Chinese and Korean art before 1279 is characterized by the use of highly aesthetic styles. Craftsmen placed emphasis on the natural beauty of materials, like silver and gold.  The objects of daily life created by Chinese and Korean craftsmen during this period include pottery, jewelry, tools, tea bowls, vases, etc. One of the examples of the objects of daily life is a silver service, which consist of several plates and bowls of different size (See Fig. 12). Craftsmen used silver as the key material to produced utensils for the people assigned to the higher status position in society.

Fig. 12. Silver service. Song dynasty, 11th–13th century, China, Silver with gilding (1997.33.1-6). The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Crafts and arts of China and Korea of this period were interrelated. Craftsmen paid due attention to the details of their art works, providing symmetry, simplicity, proportions, and grace. They were focused on the accuracy of forms and colors in their works, providing religious and cultural significance (Kleiner 57).

  1. Japanese art before 1333

Japanese art before 1333 reflected the historical and cultural traditions of the time period. The pottery items produced during this time were made by pressing cords onto damp clay. Craftsmen used decoration elements, such as geometric and asymmetric patterns, in order to reflect cultural traditions. They used such materials as glass, ceramics, clay, minerals, iron, shell and bronze to decorate the objects of daily life.

Fig. 13. A jar from the Yayoi period (1st – 3rd century CE)

In addition, Japanese craftsmen reflected religious traditions, making their works more impressive. They used Buddhist iconography as decoration of pottery and other culinary utensils (Kleiner 94). As the introduction of Buddhism influenced Japanese craftsmanship, the objects of daily life had significant cultural value for many Japanese people.

  1. Art of the Americas before 1300

Art of the Americas before 1300 can be characterized as primitive, mysterious and cannibalistic. Crafts and art of Mesoamerica, Central America, the central Andes of South America, the southeastern Woodlands and the great river valleys of North America, and the North American Southwest were closely connected. The objects of daily life used by the people of the Americas before 1300 include pottery, tools, jewelry, statuettes, etc.

Fig. 14. Pitcher with Black on White Geometric Designs, Art of the Americas before 1300,  Brooklyn Museum

The images of art include the themes of cultural rituals, the representation of animals and geometric designs. Craftsmen in the Americas before 1300 used a wide range of materials to produce their works, including wood, stone, metal, ivory, obsidian, bone, etc.  As peoples of the Americas had the advanced metallurgy, they produced high quality gold, silver and copper pieces, which had cultural significance (Kleiner 148).

  1. Early African art

Early African art reflects the culture of African people, their customs and traditions. Most objects of daily life were produced by African craftsmen were used as cultural products. In Nigeria, Ethiopia and other African countries, craftsmen used flora and fauna specimens to create their artworks. Among the objects of daily life were pottery, bowls, tools, jewelry, statuettes, woodwork, etc. One of the examples is bowl (See Fig. 15)

Fig. 15.Early African art, a bowl.

The religious influence on early African art is evident in many art pieces. African craftsmen incorporated art into everyday items, such as cooking utensils, clothing, baskets, bowls, and other items (Kleiner 193).

  1. Early Medieval Art in Europe

Early Medieval art in Europe was influenced by the artistic heritage and cultural traditions of the Roman Empire, as well as by the influences of the early Christian church. In addition, the impact of “barbarian” artistic culture of Northern Europe was significant. The medieval craftsmen used precious metals, enriching them with rare stones as decoration elements. Moreover, they used ivory, silver, bronze and brass, glass and other materials to produce the objects of daily life, including clothing, tools, jewelries, etc. One of the examples of the objects of daily life of medieval women is an ivory mirror-case (See Fig. 16).

Fig. 16. Scenes of courtly love on a lady’s ivory mirror-case. Paris, 1300–1330.

Medieval craftsmen used various techniques to create pieces of art based on the established cultural traditions (Blair & Ramsay 15)

  1. Romanesque art

Romanesque art, which flourished in Western Europe from 1000 to 1150 is associated with unique Romanesque architecture style. There were many impressive elements of decoration specially developed for buildings during this period. The origins of Romanesque art were connected with the reformation of religious life that started in the 900s. As a result, many pieces of Romanesque art are religious in subject matter. Manuscript illumination, stained glass, and various objects from the category of metalwork were used as the objects of daily life, which had cultural and religious significance. One of the examples is the candlestick made in Romanesque style (See Fig. 17).

Fig. 17. The Gloucester candlestick, early 12th century, Victoria and Albert Museum

This piece shows the unique techniques and craftsmanship made in the Romanesque style which had cultural and religious significance.

  1. Gothic art of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

Gothic art of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries reflects the culture of this period. Tapestries, jugs, cups, plates, and other objects of daily life had cultural significance due to the impact of nobility, etiquette and high style of the monarchy. The nobles wore silk clothes, used silver and gold plates and spoons because it was common in medieval ages for the noble people to wear the best clothing and use the best items.

Fig. 18. Chalice and paten, unknown maker, 1518-1519. Museum no. M.76a-1947

Hence, the objects of daily life which come from Gothic art of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were used not only for their intended purposes, but also as the elements of room decoration. One of the examples is the set of chalice and paten. This set is made of parcel-gilt silver with enameled decoration (Gothic Objects in Detail).

  1. Fourteenth-century art in Europe

Fourteenth-century art in Europe was influenced by famine, war, and the Black Plague. These crises led to the increased level of mystical religiosity. Craftsmen of this period of art history produced emotional depictions of the Crucifixion and the martyrdoms of the saints. The objects of daily life created by craftsmen from the fourteenth-century Europe include pottery, bowls, tools, jewelry, etc.

Fig. 19. Pharmacy Jar with the Arms of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, 1425–50, Made in Tuscany, Italy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The objects of daily life produced by craftsmen were decorated effectively in order to reflect the established religious beliefs. Craftsmen used wood, metal, ceramics, stained glass, ivory, gold, silver, bronze, etc. The objects of daily created during this period of art history had cultural value.  The decorative work was carried out by craftsmen, most of whom used enamel (Kleiner 401).

 

Works Cited

Bahn, Paul. The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art. Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.

Blair, John & Ramsay, Nigel. English Medieval Industries: Craftsmen, Techniques, Products. A&C Black, 1991. Print.

Collon, Dominique. Ancient Near Eastern Art. University of California Press, 1995. Print.

Gothic Objects in Detail. Victoria and Albert Museum. 2015. Available from:< http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/gothic-objects-in-detail/>

Kleiner, Fred. Gardner’s Art through the Ages: Non-Western Perspectives. Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Kleiner, Fred. Gardner’s Art through the Ages: Western Perspectives. Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.

Preziosi, Donald & Hitchcock, Louise. Aegean Art and Architecture. Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.

Robins, Gay. The Art of Ancient Egypt. Harvard University Press, 2008. Print.

Sacks, David; Murray, Oswyn & Brod, Lisa R. Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.

Silberman, Neil A. “Byzantine Culture,” in The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. OUP USA, 2012. Print.

 

List of Figures

Fig. 1. The Lascaux Caves paintings. Available from:<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_art#/media/File:Lascaux2.jpg>

Fig. 2. Recumbent mouflon, Mature Harappan period, ca. 2600–1900 B.C., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available from:< https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1978.58>

Fig. 3.  Thutmose, Bust of Nefertiti, 1345 BC, Egyptian Museum of Berlin. Available from:<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_ancient_Egypt#/media/File:Nofretete_Neues_Museum.jpg>

Fig. 4. Fig. 4. Spoon in the form of a young girl carrying a vase, Louvre. Available from:< http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/spoon-form-young-girl-carrying-vase>

Fig. 5. Seated harp player, ca. 2800–2700 B.C.; Early Cycladic I–II Cycladic; Grotta-Pelos culture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available from:<http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/47.100.1>

Fig. 6. Black-figure olpe (wine vessel) by the Amasis Painter, depicting Herakles and Athena, c. 540 BC, Louvre. Available from:<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_art#/media/File:Herakles_Olympos_Louvre_F30_full.jpg>

Fig. 7. Globular cup with two handles, last quarter of 6th century B.C., EtruscanTerracotta, The Metropolitan Museum. Available from:<http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2009.316>

Fig. 8. Bowl with Saints Peter and Paul, ca. 350, Early Christian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available from:< http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/468386>

Fig. 9. Ivory casket with images of Cupids (10th century), Walters Art Museum. Available from:< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_art#/media/File:Byzantine_-_Casket_with_Images_of_Cupids_-_Walters_71298.jpg>

Fig. 10. The Lamp enclosed in Glass.” Syria or Egypt. 15th century. 33 x 25 cm. Courtesy of the Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic Art. Available from:< http://islamic-arts.org/2012/islamic-art/>

Fig. 11. Indian bowl, Art of South and Southeast Asia before 1200 . Available from:<

Fig. 12. Silver service. Song dynasty, 11th–13th century, China, Silver with gilding (1997.33.1-6). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available from:<http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ssong/hd_ssong.htm

Fig. 13. A jar from the Yayoi period (1st – 3rd century CE). Available from:< https://www.boundless.com/art-history/textbooks/alternative-to-art-history-volume-1-5th-marilyn-stokstad-michael-cothren-0205873480-9780205873487/japan-before-1333-12/prehistoric-japan-74/yayoi-period-303-6123/>

Fig. 14. Pitcher with Black on White Geometric Designs, Art of the Americas before 1300. Brooklyn Museum. Available from:<https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/181/Pitcher_with_Black_on_White_Geometric_Designs>

Fig. 15. Early African art, a bowl. Available from:<https://alana008.wordpress.com/category/east-african-art/>

Fig. 16. Scenes of courtly love on a lady’s ivory mirror-case. Paris, 1300–1330. Available from:< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_art>

Fig. 17. The Gloucester candlestick, early 12th century, Victoria and Albert Museum. Available from:< http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/gloucester-candlestick/>

Fig. 18. Chalice and paten, unknown maker, 1518-1519. Museum no. M.76a-1947. Available from:< http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/gothic-objects-in-detail/>

Fig. 19. Pharmacy Jar with the Arms of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, 1425–50, Made in Tuscany, Italy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available form:<https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/16.154.5

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[Accessed: June 2, 2020]

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