Dot paintings of the Australian Aboriginal desert peoples are often called sand paintings. This reference stems from their genesis in ground paintings that are created by clans as they move from place to place in the desert. The clan gathers around a central site, which is cleared so that "paintings" can be created using seeds, flowers, sand, stones, feathers, and other natural substances. The clan elders sing their way through the painting process, imparting tribal knowledge to younger members of the clan. The various symbols are explained and interpreted as lessons in the clan's history and heritage, its creation story, and the location of sacred sites, food sources, and water holes.
Today, these designs are painted on art board and canvas for sale to the outside world. While the precise meanngs of the designs are usually unclear to outsiders, they have deep cultural significance to clan members. Details usually are not revealed to anyone outside the clan. Even then, only males who 'graduate' to high rank in the clan learn the full menaing of the designs.