The reason tribes use face art to transform themselves may be varied. Sometimes they choose to do so as a part of a tribal ritual or at other times they do so to mark their status (as is the case with some aboriginal tribes), but the colorful and dynamic language of the face painting remains the same.

Significance of the Colors: Colors in Native American culture have special significance. Red is a violent color; it is the color of war. Strangely enough black, which is considered to be an inauspicious colors in most cultures, is the color of ‘living’, worn on the face during war preparations. White predictably is the color of peace. The color green when worn under the eyes is believed to empower the wearer with a night vision. Yellow is the most inauspicious color, it is the color of death, as it is the color of "old bones." Care should be taken not to wear a lot of yellow, and is worn only when a person is in mourning. Also yellow, means a man has lived his life and will fight to the finish. Each Indian tribe has its own and unique way of face painting. Face paintings can be the lightest streak of color on the face. It can also mean covering their faces completely.

Raw materials used for Tribal Face Painting: Face painting is considered to be an important tradition among Native Americans. It is much more than just a beautifying practice. It’s a sacred social act of distinction and a cultural heritage. On special occasions faces of the tribe members are painted to augment one’s appearance and power. Each tribe of the Indians has its own and unique way of face painting.

For Native Americans Indians, roots, berries and tree barks are most commonly used to make the dyes for face painting. These natural raw materials are ground and made to a paste to make the dye. Clay of different hues is also used in Native Indian face painting. These wonderful colors along with the ideal face painting designs do create a desired effect. The process envolved a strict ritualistic order, that is maintained during the application of these colors.

The colors are first applied around the nose and only the index finger and middle finger is used for the application. The rest of the face i.e. the forehead, chin and eye areas are then carefully covered with paint. For some face paintings they would cover their face and then plaster it down with mud leaving the holes for the eyes and mouth. Generally the warriors would paint their faces with colored clay. They would then do the design of their tribe. Each tribe has its own designs for war and ceremonies. For the Zuni, and in many other cultures, the paints are sacred and nobody is allowed to touch a painted dancer until he has washed his body.
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Responses to "Sacred Meaning of Indigenous Face Paints: 22 Painted Faces That Tell Stories "

  1. Anonymous says:

    Also, look at the beauty of the faces of indigenous people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful pics! Very beautiful faces- love the info!

  3. Unknown says:

    Refreshing..thanks for sharing...

  4. Anonymous says:

    I find the face painting beautiful it adds to the expressions.

  5. Unknown says:

    I believe there are so many more face painting symbolic in natural design !

  6. M.G.R... says:

    Proud to be Native...

  7. Anonymous says:

    doesa warior paint hi face the same way each time? and are women allowed to do so???

  8. Anonymous says:

    This makes me very happy to see this! I'm part Blackfoot and just love to see the different Native American cultures spoken of in a good light!
    The pictures were stunning and beautiful! Great art and culture displayed here! Godspeed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wonderfully Beautiful. Thank you all, such a pleasure to see. PROUD TO BE A PART OF THE HERITAGE.

  10. Unknown says:

    Beautiful pictures ❤❤❤❤

  11. Unknown says:

    Beautiful artwork on these beautiful faces. Was hoping there was going to be some explanation of the meanings of some of the various designs.

  12. Anonymous says:

    <3 <3 <3 Loved all !! beautiful pictures of beautiful faces !! would have some explication what the meanings of the different paintings are.
    Ty :)

  13. Anonymous says:

    schöne Gesichter mit den Farben des Lebens verziert ...toll .

  14. hermosas caras y su arte facial, bellas fotos

  15. Anonymous says:

    Native Pride :)

  16. Pineleaf says:

    Just plain Awesome

  17. Anonymous says:

    Was just wondering on the representation of colors and black meaning life, then why were the prisoners who were to be killed or burnt at the stake had their faces painted black? Just wondering and would like to be educated on this.

  18. twilder says:

    Simply Beautiful

  19. twilder says:

    Love the baby, such a little cutie!

  20. Unknown says:

    i have a question, I had a spiritual revelation yesterday I saw this big bomb fire with natives dancing around it. out of the blue this native male with no shirt he had an eagle in each arm looking the opposite way he had lower arm tassels and pants with the tassels on the sides indian boots with tassels and he came to me with red paint and he did a cross on my forehead, temples, eyes, and mouth. he also did two lines under my eyes and under that three dots going the length way. then he raised a buffalo skull up to the moon. i couldnt hear what he said. after that he went back to dance around the bomb fire. Can someone tell me what it means??

  21. DMR says:

    So beautiful. So telling.

  22. Unknown says:

    Beautiful workmanship in such applications of colour and design.

  23. Michele says:

    I would like to have seen each of these pictures captioned with tribe and explanation of what the paint signifies. I was also wondering if women paint their faces, and if so, when and why?

  24. Unknown says:

    Desperately seeking answers. I am a medium and received a vision of a native American man with his long hair tied back and on his face were red stripes that were about an inch wide that started from the corner of his eyes (bridge of nose) and ended at the angle of the jaw. He also showed me with winged arms, no top but around his wrists were leather bands with 3 "fringes" He also stated the "Cry of the Hawk." My questions is what does all this mean?

  25. S L says:

    Would be nice if there were general meaning given to the designs shown. Unless it's too personal a thing.

  26. Unknown says:

    Thank you for the information and beautiful pictures. My ancestors are Cherokee and to honor them I am painting a sculpture. It is important that I have the colors accurate. Blessed 🙏 Be.

  27. I'm looking to paint my face to hide from facial recognition software... I have no idea who to emulate, being almost half Kanaka Maoli and never leaving these moku/islands my whole life.. my paternal half is mixed Native Amerikan tribes: 25% Swinomish-Skagit from my grandmother where she met my grandfather (who presumably came down the trail of tears a Diné-Navajo/Lakota-Sioux/Mixed-Plains-Tribes mongrel).

    I know nothing of their names beyond these pedigree labels besides my Hawaiian upbringing, and hope to counteract targeted software these de facto colonisers have begun to implement.

    Sorry if I misuse these.

  28. Unknown says:

    Just Beautiful !! Proud People can see it !!

  29. Unknown says:

    I was given a vision by an ancient buffalo used in ceremony..he showed me many people. I assume people it had encountered on its long journey. The last image was of my own face that had a white band over my eyes and nose. Can anyone help me to understand please?

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