Aboriginal Australians made these paintings
to mark journeys across sandhills and by waterholes,
mirroring body paint on foreheads, chests and legs,
starting an inner journey of initiation,
from elders to the young.
They wander through the desert; their
stories and ritual travel with them
like the tiny dots on these paintings,
coded snakes, interlocking water caves,
star shapes, and kangaroo man,
the palette black, gray, orange,
red, brown and pure white.
Even today, the paintings dazzle
with round circles and symbols
too private to decode. These artists,
these men and women, travel separately
even in their dreams.
See some images of these paintings at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection at the University of Virginia that I visited today.