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Aboriginal Art Symbols - Water / Smoke / Fire

The Aboriginal symbol for water, smoke or fire is parallel wavy lines that represent the rippling of water, the flickering of fire or the billowing of smoke.

Aboriginal Art Symbols - Water / Smoke / Fire

The Aboriginal art symbol for water, smoke or fire is parallel wavy lines that represent the rippling of water, the flickering of fire or the billowing of smoke. The ephemeral natures of these elements are condensed into one symbol which may then be differentiated by color or context.

  • As hunter-gatherers, the Aboriginal people were able to find water in the most arid environments as they travelled around the bush in search of food. They knew how to harvest water from the leaves and roots of plants and how the presence of certain trees could indicate an underground water source.

  • This symbol can also be used to represent a bolt of lightning, a common cause of bush fires in the outback.

  • Fire is also a tool that the Aboriginal people have used for thousands of years to manage the arid landscape. In the early dry season they used 'cool burns' (low-intensity controlled fires) to create fire breaks that would prevent the deadly 'hot fires' of the late dry season from spreading and destroying their habitat.

Some of the topics in our Aboriginal Art pages are illustrated with a painting that was inspired by the theme of that page. The symbols and images used to create them are taken from the sheets above which are freely available as pdf. files for you to download to help with drawing your own artworks.