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Aboriginal Art Dreaming Stories - The Seven Sisters

'The Seven Sisters' story is a popular Dreaming that occurs in various forms in different Aboriginal language groups.

The Seven Sisters Dreaming

'The Seven Sisters'

Long ago in the Dreaming there were seven sisters who were foraging for food in the bush when they came across two hunters from a different skin group. They invited the men to share their food and drink but gradually realized that they had more amorous intentions. The sisters, who did not want to break the traditional laws that forbade romantic relationships with other skin groups, fled their camp with the men in hot pursuit.

The Ancestral Spirits, who saw what was happening, saved the sisters' honour by lifting them into the sky where they assumed the form of the stars that we know as the Pleiades. Now at night in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, you can see the Seven Sisters fleeing across the sky, still pursued but never to be caught by the two hunters.

The Pleiades (Seven Sisters)

The Pleiades (Seven Sisters)

The story of the 'The Seven Sisters' is a popular Dreaming that occurs in various forms in different Aboriginal language groups. It uses the group of stars known as 'The Pleiades' as a metaphor to illustrate traditional marriage laws and the protection and power of ancestral spirits. The Pleiades star cluster has inspired similar stories that appear in Native American, Hindu and Ancient Greek mythology [1].

The Painting Process for our Page Illustration

Many of the topics in our Aboriginal Art pages are illustrated with a painting that was inspired by the theme of that page. For each of these we have created a step by step slide show that deconstructs the image to reveal the painting process and inspire possibilities for your own ideas. The images and symbols used to create our illustrations can be found in our menu at the foot of the page. They are available for you to download to help with creating your own artworks.

  • Slide Show
 
 
  • seven-sisters-13
    The Seven Sisters
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    1. The distant horizon is drawn with a white color pencil on a black ground.
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    2. The seven sisters and the two hunters are drawn as Aboriginal star symbols.
  • seven-sisters-4
    3. Some smaller, distant stars are drawn to fill the night sky.
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    4. The distant horizon line is painted with dark blue dots.
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    5. Parallel lines of dots, gradually becoming brighter, are painted to follow the curve of the horizon.
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    6. The parallel lines of dots are continued to the bottom of the painting to suggest the moonlit land.
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    7. The stars are illuminated with light blue and white dots.
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    8. A halo of radiated light is painted around each star using light blue dots.
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    9. Further circles of darkening dots are painted to suggests the stars’ coronas.
  • seven-sisters-11
    10.The pattern of dot circles is extended to link the stars together.
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    11. The pattern of dot circles is continued to fill the space between the stars.
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    12. The pattern of dot circles is continued to fill the entire night sky.
seven-sisters-13

(Click on the play buttons or swipe back and forward to explore each stage of our painting.)

Key Stages of the Painting

  1. The distant horizon is drawn with a white color pencil on a black ground.

  2. The seven sisters and the two hunters are drawn as Aboriginal star symbols.

  3. Some smaller, distant stars are drawn to fill the night sky.

  4. The distant horizon line is painted with dark blue dots.

  5. Parallel lines of dots, gradually becoming brighter, are painted to follow the curve of the horizon.

  6. The parallel lines of dots are continued to the bottom of the painting to suggest the moonlit land.

  7. The stars are illuminated with light blue and white dots.

  8. A halo of radiated light is painted around each star using light blue dots.

  9. Further circles of darkening dots are painted to suggests the stars’ coronas.

  10. The pattern of dot circles is extended to link the stars together.

  11. The pattern of dot circles is continued to fill the space between the stars.

  12. The pattern of dot circles is continued to fill the entire night sky.

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.