The acceptance of “folk art” as a special class did not take place till the late 19th century, and was first constrained to European peasant art – the “art of the land”. The intellectual and cultural climate of the time connected an exaggerated Romanticism to the easy lifestyles lived by way of the frequent people.
Their art, in particular, hand-crafted with ordinary tools, had an outstanding appeal for the post-Industrial Revolution city mainstream.
This unrealistic understanding of rural life, fuelled with the aid of the aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts Movement championed through William Morris and others, led to a consideration of “folk art” as anything non-elitist, primitive or homemade – artwork that preserved some type of cultural heritage.
In other words, “folk art” is a time period invented by 19th century white Christian well-educated urbanites to describe the quaint arts and crafts of rustic societies.
Because the concept was invented through human beings well-versed in cultural history, they excluded arts from the predominant civilizations (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian, Minoan, Persian, and so on), and from Classical Antiquity (Ancient Greece and Rome), and Islamic societies. These cultures have been deemed too well-developed to give rise to “folk art”.
Folk art, predominantly functional or utilitarian visual art produced by hand for use by the manufacturer or a tiny circumscribed group and containing a retention element— the extended traditional survival. Folk art is the artistic manifestation of the human fight for culture through the manufacturing of helpful but unique structures and items within a specific setting.