1. Abstraction is always a helpful and useful way to personify something that is difficult to imagine, and has no visual equivalent in the real world. When compared to realistic depictions of death, abstract art does a much better job of creating something otherworldly and fascinating, which matches the level of interest and curiosity these cultures have about death and spirits. By viewing these things in the abstract, cultures can find a way to better understand the significance and spiritual power of these concepts, instead of grounding it in realism and representation. Abstract art can bring out the uncanny nature of a spiritual object, by making it larger or different from real life, further connecting the culture to the spirit world. This abstraction permits the culture to separate the real world from the spirit world, and paint it as something completely unlike what exists in front of them.
Kepes, Gyorgy. Sign, Image, Symbol. G. Braziller, 1966. Print.
2. The Chinese, Kuba and Maya have somewhat similar ways of using art of various forms to depict life, death and the spiritual world. Sculpture is an important component to all three cultures; the Kuba tribe uses sculptures to commemorate members of royalty, and a triad of masks relates directly to Woot and the origins of the Kuba tribe. The Chinese similarly use sculpture to memorialize famous figures moreso than deities; the vast majority of Chinese religious sculpture is of Buddha. Mayan art uses large stone slab sculptures called Stelas to depict rulers of cities. All three cultures do not worship a creator god, but instead use art to depict their own history and important figures.
Clunas, Craig. Art in China. Oxford University Press: 1997.
Kubler, George, Studies in Classic Maya Iconography. Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 28. New Haven: Connecticut 1969.