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Title: Evolution in Art - As Illustrated by the Life-histories of Designs
Author: Haddon, Alfred C. (Alfred Cort)
Language: English
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  _Professor of Zoology, Royal College of Science, Dublin, Corresponding
  Member of the Italian Society of Anthropology, etc._

  With 8 Plates, and 130 Figures in the Text.




I would like to take the opportunity which a Preface affords to thank
those friends who have helped me in the preparation of this little
book. Most of them will find their names mentioned somewhere in the
text. It is also my pleasant duty to heartily acknowledge the kindness
I have everywhere experienced when collecting the materials on which
these studies are based. On many occasions I have entered a museum in
Britain or abroad, not knowing any one on the staff. On explaining my
object every facility was at once offered, cases were opened, specimens
were handed to me, and various conveniences arranged; often, too, help
was rendered me at the time, not only by curators and assistants, but
also by museum porters and _gendarmes_. It is particularly gratifying
for a stranger to be received as a colleague, and to find that museum
authorities everywhere recognise that the collections put under their
charge serve their end best when they are utilised by students.

A word of apology may be needed for the copious extracts which have
been made from the works of other writers. My object in this has
been to show that there has been quite a considerable number of
investigators who have approached the subject of decorative art from
a similar point of view to that elaborated in the present essay. A
quotation brings one more face to face with the author than does a mere
abstract, and personally I like to feel the comradeship of similar
studies. We all contribute our mites, and the only pity is we cannot
all be personally known to one another.

It would afford me great pleasure if this book leads to new students
entering upon this important and intensely interesting field of
inquiry, and I shall always be pleased to correspond with those who are
or who desire to be fellow-workers.



  INTRODUCTION                                             1

    AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE METHOD OF STUDY                  11

     I. Torres Straits and Daudai                         13
    II. The Fly River                                     26
   III. The Papuan Gulf                                   29
    IV. The Central District                              42
     V. The Massim District                               47
    VI. Relation of the Decorative Art to the Ethnology
         of British New Guinea                            59
   VII. Note on the Scroll Designs of British New
         Guinea                                           67


     I. The Decorative Transformation and Transference
         of Artificial Objects (Skeuomorphs)              75

          1. _Transformation of a Solitary Object_        76
          2. _Transference of Fastenings_                 84
          3. _Skeuomorphs of Textiles_                    89
          4. _Skeuomorphic Pottery_                       97
          5. _Stone Skeuomorphs of Wooden Buildings_     114
          6. _Skeuomorphic Inappropriateness_            116

    II. The Decorative Transformation of Natural
         Objects                                         118

          1. _Physicomorphs _                            118
          2. _Biomorphs; A. Representation of Abstract
               Ideas of Life; B. Phyllomorphs: The
               Lotus and its Wanderings; C. Zoomorphs;
               D. Anthropomorphs; E. Biomorphic
               Pottery_                                  126
          3. _Heteromorphs_                              192


     I. Art                                              200
    II. Information                                      203
   III. Wealth                                           222
    IV. Magic and Religion                               235

          1. _Sympathetic Magic_                         235
          2. _Totemism_                                  250
          3. _Religion_                                  267
          4. _Religious Symbolism; A. The Meaning
               and Distribution of the Fylfot; B. The
               Psychology of Symbolism_                  275

    ART                                                  306

     I. Application of Biological Deductions to Designs  308
    II. The Geographical Distribution of Animals and
        of Designs                                       319
   III. General Remarks on the Method of Study           331

  INDEX                                                  357



  1. Bamboo tobacco-pipes; one-tenth natural size. Torres
        Straits. Drawn by the author from specimens in the British

  2. Rubbing of the handle of a wooden comb; one-half natural
        size. Torres Straits. In the author’s possession.

  3. Drawings of animals by the natives of Torres Straits; about
        one-quarter natural size. (Original.)

  A. Jelly-fish; B. Star-fish; C. Hammer headed shark
        (_Zygæna_); D. Group of two sharks (_Charcarodon_) and
        a turtle; E. Eagle-ray (_Aëtobatis_); F. Sucker-fish
        (_Echineis naucrates_); G. Tree-frog (_Hyla cœrulea_); H.
        Two snakes on a tobacco-pipe, between them is the hole
        in which the bowl is inserted; I. Crocodile (_Crocodilus
        porosus_), with footprints; K. Cassowary (_Casuarius_)
        pecking at a seed, and footprints, cf. Fig. 4; L. Dolphin
        (_Delphinus_); M. Dugong (_Halicore australis_) spouting,
        and indications of waves; N. Native dog (_Canis dingo_); O.
        Man with a large mackerel-like fish.

  A, B, G, H, L, occur on bamboo tobacco-pipes; C, E, I, K, M,
        N, O, on drums; D, F, on pearl shells.

  A, B, H, I, L, N, O, British Museum; C, E, K, Cambridge; G.
        Oxford; D, F, Berlin.

  4. Drum from Daudai; 37½ inches long. Sketched by the author
        from a specimen in the Cambridge Museum. (Original.)

  5. Rubbing of part of the decoration of a bamboo tobacco-pipe,
        probably from the mouth of the Fly River; one-third natural
        size, in the Liverpool Museum. In the original the lines
        show dark on a light ground.

  6. Series of arrows from Torres Straits, collected and
        sketched by the author, and presented by him to the
        Cambridge Museum; one-third natural size. (Original.)

  7. Snake arrow from Torres Straits (cf. Fig. 6). (Original.)

  8. Rubbing of one side of the decoration of a drum from the
        Fly River, in the museum at Rome; one-fourth natural size.

  9. Rubbing of part of the carved border along a canoe from
        near Cape Blackwood. Taken by R. Bruce, 1894. One-sixth
        natural size.

  10-19. Rubbings of carved wooden belts from the Papuan Gulf;
        one-fourth natural size—10. Cambridge Museum; 11. Glasgow
        Museum; 12. Kerrama, Berlin Museum; 13. British Museum;
        14. British Museum; 15. Toaripi (Author’s Collection); 16.
        Berlin Museum; 17. Maiva, Berlin Museum; 18. Edinburgh
        Museum; 19. Museum of the London Missionary Society.

  20. A. Drawing of Tabuta, a Motu girl, by Rev. W. Y. Turner,
        M.D. (from _Journ. Anth. Inst._, vii., 1878, Fig. 4,
        p. 480). B. Back view of the same. (The hair of this girl
        is incorrectly drawn, it should be frizzly and not wavy.)

  21. A. Design on a lime gourd from Kerepunu; B. Part of the
        decoration of a pipe from Maiva; C. Detail on a pipe from
        Kupele, in the Berlin Museum; D-I. Designs on pipes—G. from
        Kupele (Berlin); H, I. from Koiari (Berlin). All the Figs.
        are to different scales. (Original.)

  22. Part of the decoration of a pipe in the Cambridge Museum;
        one-sixth natural size. (Original.)

  23. Clay pot, with an incised pattern from Wari (Teste Island),
        after a sketch by Dr. H. O. Forbes.

  24. Rubbing of the half of one side of the handle of a spatula
        in the author’s collection; one-third natural size.

  25. Rubbings of both sides of a float for a fishing-net;
        one-half natural size.

  26. Rubbing of upper two-thirds of the decoration of a club in
        the Glasgow Museum; one-third natural size.

  27-30. Rubbings of part of the decoration of clubs; one-third
        natural size. 27, 28, D’Entrecasteaux, Edinburgh Museum;
        29, 30, Cambridge Museum.

  31. Rubbing of the pattern round the upper margin of a
        betel-pestle in the Cambridge Museum; one-third natural

  32. Rubbing of part of the carved rim of a wooden bowl from the
        D’Entrecasteaux Islands; one-third natural size.

  33. Rubbing of the handle of a turtle-shell spatula from the
        Louisiades, in the British Museum; one-half natural size.

  34. Rubbing of the decoration of one side of a club; one-third
        natural size. The block is turned round to show the pattern
        more clearly, the zigzag bands in reality run across the

  35. Rubbing of the handle of a spatula in the British Museum;
        one-third natural size.

  36. Rubbings of the three sides of the handle of a spatula from
        the d’Entrecasteaux, in the Dublin Museum; one-half natural

  37. A. B. Sketches of two stages of the “bird bracket” of two
        spatulas, probably from the Woodlarks, in the author’s
        collection; C, D, analogous details from canoe carvings—C.
        from a photograph; D. from a specimen in the Edinburgh
        Museum. (Original.)

  38. Rubbing of the decoration of a club in the Dublin Museum;
        one-third natural size.

  39. Rubbing of the decoration of a club in the Dublin Museum;
        one-third natural size.

  40. Rubbing of the central longitudinal band of a club from the
        d’Entrecasteaux in the Edinburgh Museum; one-third natural

  41. Rubbing of part of the decoration of a club from the
        d’Entrecasteaux in the Edinburgh Museum; one-third natural

  42. Bird and crocodile designs, Massim Archipelago. A. Canoe
        carving from Wari (Teste Island), about two-ninths natural
        size; B. Handle of a paddle in the Cambridge Museum,
        one-half natural size; C. Handle of a spatula in the Leiden
        Museum, three-sevenths natural size; D. Handle of a spatula
        from Tubutubu (Engineer Group) in the Cambridge Museum,
        three-sevenths natural size; E. Handle of a paddle in the
        Cambridge Museum, three-sevenths natural size. (Original.)

  43. Rubbing of the decoration of a Maori flute in the Natural
        History Museum, Belfast; one-half natural size. (Original.)

  44. Turtle-shell ornaments worn in Torres Straits. The ratio of
        size of the illustrations to the originals is as 4 : 15;
        A. Ordinary fish-hook, made of turtle-shell; B-L. Series
        of ornaments, probably derived from fish-hooks, made of
        turtle-shell. All in the British Museum, from a photograph
        by Mr. H. Oldland, of the British Museum.

  45. Sketches of two axes from the South-east Peninsula of New
        Guinea, in the possession of the author; about one-tenth
        natural size. (Original.)

  46. Mangaian symbolic adze in the Copenhagen Museum; from Dr.
        C. March.

  47. An erect drum, _Kaara_, surmounted by the head of a god
        from Java, in the Copenhagen Museum; from Dr. C. March.

  48. Rubbing of part of the decoration of a Tongan club in the
        Norwich Museum; one-third natural size. (Original.)

  49. Rubbing of part of the decoration of a Tongan club in the
        Norwich Museum; one-half natural size. (Original.)

  50. Rubbing of part of the decoration of a Tongan club in the
        Norwich Museum; one-half natural size. (Original.)

  51. Sketches of tapa belts from Kerepunu, British New Guinea;
        about three-quarters natural size. (Original.)

  52. Designs derived from _uluri_ (women’s covering); A, B, C,
        Bakaïri tribe, Central Brazil; D, Auetö tribe, Central
        Brazil. After Von den Steinen; greatly reduced.

  53. Iroquois bark vessel; after Cushing.

  54. Rectangular or Iroquois type of earthen vessel; after

  55. Clay nucleus in base mould, with beginning of spiral
        building; a stage in the formation of a Zuñi vessel; after

  56, 57. Variations in a motive through the influence of form.
        Pueblo pottery; after Holmes.

  58. A. Freehand form; B. Form imposed by fabric. Forms of the
        same motive expressed in different arts; after Holmes.

  59. Design of Fig. 60; after Holmes, from Mason.

  60. Ancient Pueblo vase, Province of Tusayan. The height and
        width of the vase are fourteen inches; after Holmes, from

  61. “Unit of the Design” of Fig. 60; after Holmes, from Mason.

  62. Modern Moki rain symbol; after Holmes.

  63. Decorative detail from an ancient Pueblo medicine-jar;
        after Holmes.

  64. Rain-cloud tile of the South House in a Tusayan ceremony;
        after Fewkes.

  65. Zuñi prayer-meal-bowl; after Cushing.

  66. Tracing of a landscape etched on a bamboo tobacco-pipe in
        Berlin; three-eighths natural size. (Original.)

  67. Sketch of Mer (Murray Island) by the author, from the
        south-west-by-west, showing the hill Gelam.

  68. Pueblo water-jar; after Cushing.

  69. Design based on a palmito leaf, Bakaïri tribe, Central
        Brazil; after Von den Steinen.

  70. Rough sketch of the Egyptian lotus (_Nymphæa lotus_); after
        original drawings by Professor Goodyear.

  71. Sketch of the Indian lotus (_Nelumbium speciosum_); after
        _Description de l’Egypt: Histoire Naturelle_, from Goodyear.

  72. Lotus flowers and bud painted on the coffin of a mummy from
        the Necropolis of Thebes, Twentieth Dynasty; after Prisse

  73. Lotus flower with two leaves, on a vase, from the
        Necropolis of Memphis, Fourth to Fifth Dynasties; after
        Prisse d’Avennes.

  74. Lotus border; from Goodyear, after Prisse d’Avennes.

  75. Lotus scroll detail on a Melian vase; from Goodyear, after

  76. Pattern from the ceiling of a tomb, Necropolis of Thebes.
        Eighteenth Dynasty; from Coffey, after Prisse d’Avennes.

  77. Pattern from the ceiling of a tomb, Necropolis of Thebes,
        Eighteenth to Nineteenth Dynasties; from Coffey, after
        Prisse d’Avennes.

  78. Pattern from the ceiling of tomb No. 33, Abd-el-Kourneh,
        Thebes; Seventeenth to Twentieth Dynasties; from Coffey,
        after Prisse d’Avennes and Goodyear.

  79. Pattern from the ceiling of a tomb from Thebes, Seventeenth
        to Twentieth Dynasties; from Coffey, after Prisse d’Avennes.

  80. Anthemion and astragal moulding from the Lât at Allahabad;
        from Birdwood, after Fergusson.

  81. Saracenic Algerian detail; from Goodyear, after Ravoisié.

  82. Ionic capital of the eastern portico of the Erechtheium.

  83. Early form of Ionic capital from Neandreia; after Clarke.

  84. Lotus design from a “geometric” vase from Cyprus; after

  85. Lotus derivative on a vase of the seventh century B.C.,
        from Melos; from Goodyear, after Conze.

  86. Compound flower based on the lotus, Thebes, Eighteenth to
        Twentieth Dynasties; from Goodyear, after Prisse d’Avennes.

  87. Lotus pendant from an Egyptian necklace of the Nineteenth
        Dynasty; from Goodyear.

  88. Anthemion from the Parthenon.

  89. Hypothetical derivation of the “egg-and-dart” moulding,
        from a lotus pattern according to Goodyear. A. Lotus
        anthemion on a vessel from Rhodes, after Salzmann; B, C.
        Lotus anthemia on pottery from Naukratis, after Flinders
        Petrie; D. Egg-and-dart moulding from the Erechtheium; E.
        Degraded egg-and-dart pattern painted on a Grecian vase.

  90. Horses etched on an antler from La Madelaine; from Taylor.

  91. Conventional alligator from the “lost colour” ware of
        Chiriqui; after Holmes.

  92. Simplified figure of an alligator from the “alligator” ware
        of Chiriqui; after Holmes.

  93. Alligator design, Chiriqui; after Holmes.

  94. Alligator delineation, greatly modified, Chiriqui; after

  95. Highly conventionalised alligator derivative, Chiriqui;
        after Holmes.

  96. Series of derivatives of the alligator, showing stages of
        simplification, Chiriqui; after Holmes.

  97. Series of alligator derivatives showing modification
        through use in narrow zones, Chiriqui; after Holmes.

  98. Scroll derived from the body-line of the alligator,
        Chiriqui; after Holmes.

  99. Fret derived from the body-line of the alligator, Chiriqui;
        after Holmes.

  100. Series of alligator derivatives showing modification
        through use within a circular area, Chiriqui; after Holmes.

  101. Pattern composed of alligator derivatives from a clay drum
        painted in the style of the “lost colour group,” Chiriqui;
        after Holmes.

  102. Patterns of the Karaya, Central Brazil; after Ehrenreich,
        A. Lizards; B. Flying bats; C. A rattlesnake; D. A snake,
        A. Incised on a grave-post; B, C, D. Plaited on the handles
        of combs.

  103. Patterns from Central Brazil; after Von den Steinen.
        A. Bakaïri paddle; B-E. _Mereschu_ (fish) patterns of
        the Auetö; F. Locust design, Bakaïri; G. Fish-shaped
        bull-roarer, Nahuquá; H. _Sukuri_ (snake) and ray patterns;
        I. _Jiboya_ (snake); K. _Agau_ (snake); H-I. Bakaïri tribe.

  104. Patterns derived from bats; after Von den Steinen, A.
        Bakaïri; B, C. Auetö.

  105. Bird design, Bakaïri, Central Brazil; after Von den Steinen.

  106. Rubbing of part of the carved rim of a wooden bowl in
        the author’s collection. Probably from the Woodlarks or
        Trobriands, British New Guinea. One-third natural size.

  107. Gourd; after Holmes.

  108. Clay vessel made in imitation of a gourd, from a mound in
        South-eastern Missouri; after Holmes.

  109. Clay vessels imitated from shells, from the mounds and
        graves of the Mississippi Valley; after Holmes.

  110, 111. Modified human figures on the shaft of a cross at
        Ilam, near Ashbourne; after Browne.

  112. Pictograph of a lasso, Dakota Winter Count, 1812-13; after

  113. Alaskan notice of a hunt; from Mallery, after Hoffman.

  114. Pictograph of starving hunters, Alaska; after Mallery.

  115. Lean-Wolf’s Map, Hidatsa; after Mallery.

  116. Ivory carving with records, Alaska; after Mallery.

  117. Blossom of an Ixora; from Stevens.

  118, 119. Magic combs of the Orang Sĕmang; from Stevens.

  120. Diagram of the uppermost pattern of Fig. 119, with
        rectification of that pattern; from Stevens.

  121. Magical pictograph of the Orang-hûtan against the slings of
        scorpions and centipedes; size of original, 9¾ inches;
        from Stevens.

  122. Magical device of the Orang Bĕlendas against a skin
        disease; size of original, 19 inches; from Stevens.

  123. Rain-charm of the Orang Bĕlendas; size of the original, 10½
        inches; from Stevens.

  124. Stretching-cleat of a drum from Mangaia, in the Berlin
        Museum; from March, after Stolpe: two-thirds natural size.

  125. Rubbings from the handles of symbolic adzes from the Hervey
        Islands. A. Free Library Museum, Belfast; B, C. Belfast
        Natural History Museum; one-third natural size. (Original.)

  126. Rubbing of part of the decoration of a Mangaian symbolic
        paddle, Norwich Museum; natural size. (Original.)

  127. Rubbing of part of the carving of the handle of a symbolic
        paddle from the Hervey Islands in the Natural History
        Museum, Belfast; one-half natural size. (Original.)

  128. Rubbing of “part of the terminal of a paddle-shaped
        implement in the Vienna Museum”; from March, after Stolpe;
        two-thirds natural size.

  129. Hut-shaped ossuary; from I. Taylor, _Origin of the Aryans_.

  130. Various forms of Fylfot or Svastika. A. Whorl from
        Hissarlik (1987), 7 m., third city, The Burnt City or
        Ilios; B. Do. (1861), 3½ m., fifth city; C. Do. (1990),
        4 m., fifth city; D. Do. (1873); E. Detail from whorl (1993),
        5 m., fourth city; F. Lotus derivative on a large amphora,
        with “geometric” decoration, Cyprus; G. Solar goose and
        lotus design on a Rhodian vase, from Salzmann, _Nécropole
        de Camire_; H. Coin from Selge, Pamphylia; I. Symbols on
        Lycian coins; K. Triskelion on a Celtiberian coin; L. On a
        silver bowl, Etruria; also on Chinese ware; M. Coin from
        Cnossus, Crete; N. Ancient Indian coin; O. On coin from
        Ujjan, Central India; P. Foot-print of Buddha (so-called),
        Amarávati Tope, India; R. Thibetian symbol; S. Roman altar
        at High Rochester, dedicated to Minerva, by Lucius Cæcilius
        Optatus; T. Roman altar at High Rochester, dedicated to the
        standards of the faithful of the Varduli by Titus Licinius
        Valerianus; U. Celto-Roman altar at Birdoswald, dedicated
        to Jupiter Optimus Maximus (IOM), apparently by Dacians
        garrisoned in Ambloganna; the four-rayed wheels were solar
        symbols among the Gauls; W. Ogham stone, Aglish, County
        Kerry; X. Ancient Scandinavian symbols; Y. Legend on church
        bell, Hathersage, Derbyshire, 1617. A-E, P. H. Schliemann,
        _Ilios_; F, G. Goodyear, _Grammar of the Lotus_; H, L, O,
        X. R. P. Greg; _Archæologia_, xlviii., 1885; I, K, M, N,
        R. Count Goblet d’Alviella, _The Migrations and Symbols_;
        S, T, U, W, Y. H. Colley March, _Trans. Lanc. and Cheshire
        Ant. Soc._, 1886. For further details the reader is
        referred to these authors.


  FIGS. 9-19, 24-30, 33-36, 38-41, 67 were generously placed at my
        disposal by the Council of the Royal Irish Academy.

  All the Figures from 1 to 41 (except Figs. 3, 21, 37), and
        Figs. 42, 44, 51, 66, 67, 106, are either the originals or
        copies of illustrations which have appeared in the author’s
        “The Decorative Art of British New Guinea,” _Cunningham
        Memoir_, x., _Royal Irish Academy_, 1894.

  20, 46, 47, 124, 128 were kindly lent by the Council of the
        Anthropological Institute. (Fig. 20 is from the _Journ.
        Anth. Inst._, vii., 1878, p. 480, and the others from _loc.
        cit._ xxii., 1893, Plate XXIII.)

  52, 69, 103-105 are copied by the kind permission of the
        author and publisher from _Unter den Naturvölkern
        Zentral-Brasiliens_, by Professor Dr. Karl von den Steinen.
        Berlin, 1894, Dietrich Reimer.

  53-63, 65, 68, 107-109, 112-116 are copied by permission from the
        _Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_, 1882-83,
        Washington, 1886, and Figs. 91-101 from the _Sixth Annual
        Report_, 1884-85 (1888).

  59-61 are from Otis T. Mason, _The Origins of Inventions_, 1895;
        after Holmes.

  64 is from the _Journal of American Ethnol. and Arch._, ii.,
        1892, p. 112.

  70, 71, 74, 75, 81, 85-87 are copied from Professor Goodyear’s
        _The Grammar of the Lotus_. Special permission was kindly
        granted by Messrs. Gilbert and Rivington to copy Figs. 87,
        130 F, which are original illustrations in the _Grammar_.

  72, 73 are traced from Prisse d’Avennes, _Histoire de l’Art
        Egyptien d’après les Monuments_, Paris, 1878.

  76-79 are from tracings kindly lent by Mr. G. Coffey (_Journ.
        Roy. Soc. Ant., Ireland_, Dec. 1894; after Prisse

  80 is from Sir G. Birdwood’s _Industrial Arts of India_, ii.,
        Fig. 20, p. 167.

  82 is from Ryley’s _Antiquities of Athens_, 1837; after Stuart.

  84 is from _The Architectural Record_, iii., 1894. “The
        Lotiform Origin of the Greek Anthemion,” p. 274.

  90, 129 are from Canon Isaac Taylor’s _Origin of the Aryans_.

  102 is copied by permission from Dr. P. Ehrenreich.

  110, 111 are from some plates specially prepared to illustrate
        the Disney Lectures of Professor C. R. Browne, Lent Term,
        Cambridge, 1889.

  117, 120-123 are from the original drawings which illustrated
        Professor Grünwedel’s account of H. Vaughan Steven’s
        investigations. _Zeitschr. für Ethnol._, xxv., 1893, xxvi.,
        1894. These were courteously lent to me by Professor
        Grünwedel and the Redactions Commission. Figs. 118, 119 are
        from Plate II., vol. xxv.

  Count Goblet d’Alviella was good enough to permit me to copy the
        table on p. 299, from the English edition of _The Migration
        of Symbols_, 1894, A. Constable & Co., Westminster.

  All the figures not mentioned above are original.

  Plates I.-VIII. were very generously placed at my service by my
        friend Dr. H. Colley March; they previously illustrated
        “The Meaning of Ornament, or its Archæology and its
        Psychology,” _Trans. Lancashire and Cheshire Ant. Soc._,



Notwithstanding the immense number of books, dissertations, and papers
which have been written on pictorial and decorative art, I venture to
add one more to their number. I profess to be neither an artist nor an
art critic, but simply a biologist who has had his attention turned
to the subject of decorative art. One of my objects is to show that
delineations have an individuality and a life-history which can be
studied quite irrespectively of their artistic merit.

We are not now concerned with the æsthetic aspect of the arts of
design, nor with those theories of art which artists and art critics
like to discuss, and concerning which John Collier, in his masterly
little _Primer of Art_, has expressed himself in no uncertain terms.
According to this author, art may, speaking broadly, be defined as “a
creative operation of the intelligence, the making of something either
with a view to utility or pleasure.” As a matter of fact the term “art”
now has a tendency to be confined to designate the Fine Arts as opposed
to the Useful Arts; not only so, but instead of including personal
decoration, ornamentation, painting, sculpture, dancing, poetry,
music, and the drama, the term is very often limited to ornamentation,
painting, and sculpture. It is with these three that we are now more
immediately concerned, and more particularly with the first of them,
or decorative art. “In this narrower sense art may be defined as the
making of something to please the eye.... As to what is pleasing, that
each person must decide for himself.”

Art has also a physical and a physiological aspect, such as “the
questions of harmony of line and colour, which lie at the root of all
art.” With Dr. Collier, we may leave these “untouched, not because they
are unimportant, but because, not enough is known about them to make
their discussion in the least profitable.”

The scope, then, of the following pages is to deal with the arts of
design from a biological or natural history point of view.

When difficult problems have to be investigated the most satisfactory
method of procedure is to reduce them to their simplest elements, and
to deal with the latter before studying their more complex aspects.
The physiology of the highest animals is being elucidated largely by
investigations upon the physiology of lower forms, and that of the
latter in their turn by a knowledge of the activities of the lowest
organisms. It is among these that the phenomena of life are displayed
in their least complex manifestations; and they, so to speak, give the
key to a right apprehension of the others.

So, too, in studying the arts of design. The artistic expression of a
highly civilised community is a very complex matter, and its complete
unravelment would be an exceedingly difficult and perhaps impossible
task. In order to gain some insight into the principles which underlie
the evolution of decorative art, it is necessary to confine one’s
attention to less specialised conditions; the less the complication,
the greater the facility for a comprehensive survey. In order,
therefore, to understand civilised art we must study barbaric art, and
to elucidate this savage art must be investigated. Of course it must be
understood that no hard and fast line can be drawn between any two of
these stages of culture; I employ them merely as convenient general
terms. These are the reasons why I shall confine myself very largely to
the decorative art of savage peoples.

There are two methods of studying the art of savages; the one is to
take a comparative view of the art of diverse backward peoples; the
other is to limit the attention to a particular district or people.
The former is extremely suggestive; but one is very liable at times to
be led astray by resemblances, as I shall have frequent occasion to
point out in the following pages. The latter is in some respects much
more certain in its conclusions, and is the only way by which certain
problems can be solved. In the first part of this book I shall adopt
the latter plan in order to indicate its particular value, and to
afford data for subsequent discussion. In the remaining parts of the
book I shall draw my illustrations from the most convenient sources,
irrespective of race or locality.

In my first section the decorative art of a particular region has
been studied much in the same way as a zoologist would study a group
of its fauna, say the birds or butterflies. Naturally, the methods of
the purely systematic zoologist neither can nor should be entirely
followed, for the aim in life of the analytical zoologist is to record
the fauna of a district and to classify the specimens in an orderly
manner. To the more synthetically-minded zoologist the problems of
the geographical distribution of animals have a peculiar fascination,
and he takes pleasure in mapping out the geographical variations of a
particular species and in endeavouring to account for the diversity of
form and colour which obtains, as well as to ascertain the place of
its evolution and the migrations which have subsequently taken place.
The philosophical student also studies the development of animals and
so learns something of the way in which they have come to be what
they are, and at the same time light is shed upon genealogies and

The beautifying of any object is due to impulses which are common to
all men, and have existed as far back as the period when men inhabited
caves and hunted the reindeer and mammoth in Western Europe. The
craving for decorative art having been common to mankind for many
thousand years, it would be a very difficult task to determine its
actual origin. All we can do is to study the art of the most backward
peoples, in the hope of gaining sufficient light to cast a glimmer down
the gloomy perspective of the past.

There are certain needs of man which appear to have constrained him to
artistic effort; these may be conveniently grouped under the four terms
of Art, Information, Wealth, and Religion.

_Art._—Æsthetics is the study or practice of art for art’s sake, for
the sensuous pleasure of form, line, and colour.

_Information._—It is not easy to find a term which will express
all that should be dealt with in this section. In order to convey
information from one man to another, when oral or gesture language is
impossible, recourse must be had to pictorial signs of one form or
another. It is the history of some of these that will be dealt with
under this term.

_Wealth._—It is difficult to distinguish among savages between the love
of wealth or power. In more organised societies, power, irrespective
of wealth, may dominate men’s minds; and it is probable that, whereas
money is at first sought after in order to feel the power which wealth
can command, later it often degenerates into the miser’s greed for gain.

The desire for personal property, and later for enhancing its value,
has led to the production of personal ornaments apart from the purely
æsthetic tendency in the same direction. There are also emblems of
wealth, and besides these, others of power or authority. The practice
of barter has led to the fixation of a unit of value, and this in time
became represented by symbols—_i.e._, money.

_Religion._—The need of man to put himself into sympathetic relation
with unseen powers has always expressed itself in visual form, and it
has gathered unto it the foregoing secular triad.

Representation and symbolism convey information or suggest ideas.

Æsthetics brings her trained eye and skilled hand.

Fear, custom, or devotion have caused individual or secular wealth to
be directed into other channels, and have thereby entirely altered its
character. The spiritual and temporal power and authority of religion
has also had immense and direct influence on art.

In a very large number of cases what I have termed the four needs of
man act and react upon one another, so that it is often difficult or
impossible to distinguish between them, nor do I profess to do so in
every case. It is sufficient for our present purpose to acknowledge
their existence and to see how they may affect the form, decoration, or
representation of objects.

Having stated the objects for which these representations are made, we
must pass to a few other general considerations.

It is probable that _suggestion_ in some cases first turned the human
mind towards representation. A chance form or contour suggested a
resemblance to something else. From what we know of the working of the
mind of savages, a mere resemblance is sufficient to indicate an actual
affinity. These chance resemblances have occupied a very important
place in what has been termed sympathetic magic, and natural objects
which suggest other objects are frequently slightly carved, engraved,
or painted in order to increase the fancied resemblance. A large number
of examples of this can be culled from the writings of missionaries and
others, or seen in large ethnographical collections. Mr. H. Balfour[1]
has also given one or two interesting illustrations of this process.
For example, a stone which suggests a human face is noted by a native
and the features are slightly emphasised, and ultimately the object
may become a fetich or a charm. The mandrake (_Mandragora_) is very
important in sympathetic magic,[2] and its human attributes have been
suggested by the two roots which diverge from a common underground
portion, and which recall the body and legs of a man; a slight amount
of carving will considerably assist nature and a vegetable man results.

      [1] H. Balfour, _The Evolution of Decorative Art_, 1893.

      [2] P. J. Veth, “De Mandragora,” _Internat. Arch. für
      Ethnogr._, vol. vii., 1894, p. 199 (with references to the

Suggestion does not operate only at the inception of a representation
or design, but it acts continuously, and may at various times cause
strange modifications to occur.

_Expectancy_, as Dr. Colley March has pointed out; has been a very
important factor in the history of art. This is intimately connected
with the association of ideas. If a particular form or marking was
natural to a manufactured object, the same form and analogous marking
would be given to a similar object made in a different manner, and
which was not conditioned by the limitations of the former. For
beautiful and convincing illustrations of the operation of this mental
attitude of expectancy the reader is referred to the section on
skeuomorphic pottery (p. 97).

We may regard suggestion and expectancy as the dynamic and static
forces operating on the arts of design; the former initiates and
modifies, the latter tends to conserve what already exists.

It is the play between these two operations which gives rise to
what may be termed a distinctive “_life-history_” of artistic

A life-history consists of three periods: birth, growth, death. The
middle period is one which is usually marked by modifications which may
conveniently be grouped under the term of evolution, as they imply a
gradual change or metamorphosis, or even a series of metamorphoses.

For our present purpose we may recognise three stages of artistic
development—origin, evolution, and decay.

The vast bulk of artistic expression owes its birth to realism; the
representations were meant to be life-like, or to suggest real objects;
that they may not have been so was owing to the apathy or incapacity of
the artist or to the unsuitability of his materials.

Once born, the design was acted upon by constraining and restraining
forces which gave it, so to speak, an individuality of its own. In
the great majority of representations the life-history ran its course
through various stages until it settled down to uneventful senility; in
some cases the representation ceased to be—in fact it died.

In the following pages I shall endeavour to trace the life-history of
a few artistic ideas as moulded by suggestion and expectancy along
the lines of the four needs, and I have attempted in the accompanying
diagram to visualise this method of studying art.

It will be found that the decorative art of primitive folk is directly
conditioned by the environment of the artists; and in order to
understand the designs of a district, the physical conditions, climate,
flora, fauna, and anthropology, all have to be taken into account; thus
furnishing another example of the fact that it is impossible to study
any one subject comprehensively without touching many other branches of

All human handiwork is subject to the same operation of external
forces, but the material on which these forces act is also infinitely
varied. The diverse races and people of mankind have different ideas
and ideals, unequal skill, varied material to work upon, and dissimilar
tools to work with. Everywhere the environment is different. So we
get that bewildering confusion of ideas which crowd upon us when
inspecting a large ethnographical collection or a museum of the
decorative arts.

                      STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT.
           / ORIGIN.       EVOLUTION.       DECAY.    \
          |            |                | Degeneration |\
          |            |                | of Pictorial | +
          |            |   Pictures.    | Art through  | |
          |            |                | incompetent  | |
          |            |                |   Copying.   | |
          |            +----------------+--------------+ |
          |            |                | Conventional | |
          |            |                |  Treatment   | |
          |            |    Groups.     |     for      | |
          |            |                |  Decorative  | |
          | Solitary   |                |  Purposes.   | |
          |Decorative  +----------------+--------------+  >ART.
          | Figures.   |    Series      |Simplification| |
          |            |      or        |   through    | |
          |            |   Patterns.    |   repeated   | |
          |            |                |   Copying.   | |
          |            +----------------+--------------+ |
          |            |                | Degradation  | |
          |            |  Combinations  |  resulting   | |
          |            |       or       |   from the   | |
          |            |  Heteromorphs. |  Monstrous   | +
          |            |                |   in Art.    |/
          |            |  Phonograms.   | Alphabetical |\
          |            |                |    Signs.    | +
          |            +----------------+--------------+ |
          |            |Conventionalised| Arithmetical | |
          |Pictographs.| or Abbreviated |    Signs.    |  >INFORMATION
          |            |  Pictographs.  |              | |
          |            +----------------+--------------+ |
          |            |                | Personal and | |
          |            |    Emblems.    | Tribal Signs | +
          |            |                | or Symbols.  |/
          |            |                |   Personal   |\
          |            |   Ornamented   |  Ornaments   | +
          |            |     Useful     | and Objects  | |
          |            |    Objects.    |emblematic of | |
          |            |                |   Power or   | |
          |  Useful    |                |    Status.   |  >WEALTH.
          |  Objects.  +----------------+--------------+ |
          |            |  More or less  |              | |
          |            |Conventionalised|    Money.    | |
          |            |Models of Useful|              | +
          |            |   Ornaments.   |              |/
          | Realism.   | Symbolism and  |Auspicious and|  RELIGION.
          |            |Conventionalism.|Magical Signs.|

The conclusion that forced itself upon me is that the decorative
art of a people does, to a certain extent, reflect their character.
A poor, miserable people have poor and miserable art. Even among
savages leisure from the cares of life is essential for the culture
of art. It is too often supposed that all savages are lazy, and have
an abundance of spare time, but this is by no means always the case.
Savages do all that is necessary for life; anything extra is for
excitement, æsthetics, or religion; and even if there is abundance of
time for these latter, it does not follow that there is an equivalent
superfluity of energy. The white man, who has trained faculties and
overflows with energy, is apt to brand as lazy those who are not so
endowed. In the case of British New Guinea it appears pretty evident
that art flourishes where food is abundant. One is perhaps justified
in making the general statement that the finer the man the better the
art, and that the artistic skill of a people is dependent upon the
favourableness of their environment.

The relation of art to ethnology is an important problem. So far as
our information goes, it appears that the same processes operate on
the art of decoration whatever the subject, wherever the country,
whenever the age—another illustration of the essential solidarity of
mankind. But there are, at the same time, numerous and often striking
idiosyncrasies which have to be explained. Many will be found to be due
to what may be termed the accidents of locality. Natural forms can only
be intelligently represented where they occur, and the materials at the
disposal of the artist condition his art.

The ethnological aspect of decorative art is too complex a problem to
be solved at present, as sufficient data have not yet been collected.
So far as I am aware, Dr. H. Stolpe of Stockholm was the first to
seriously attack this subject. It was not until I had definitely
entered on the same line of research that I found I was following in
the footsteps of the Swedish savant; fortunately, our work did not
really overlap.

I have elsewhere[3] thrown out the following suggestion:—“It will often
be found that the more pure or the more homogeneous a people are, the
more uniformity will be found in their art work, and that florescence
of decorative art is a frequent result of race mixture.” For although
prolific art work may be dependent, to some extent, upon leisure due
to an abundance of food, this will not account for artistic aptitude,
though in process of time the latter may be a result of the employment
of the leisure; still less will it account for the artistic motives or
for the technique.

      [3] _Illustrated Archæologist_, vol. i, 1893, p. 108.

The art of a people must also be judged by what they need not do and
yet accomplish. The resources at their command, and the limitations
of their materials, are very important factors; but we must not, at
the same time, ignore what they would do if they could, nor should
we project our own sentiment too much into their work. In this, as
in all other branches of ethnographical inquiry, we should endeavour
to learn all we can about them from their own point of view before
it is too late. At the present stage knowledge will not be advanced
much by looking at laggard peoples through the spectacles of old-world


As stated in the Introductory section, we will commence our studies
of the art of existing savages by a brief account of the decorative
art of a limited area rather than wander over the earth’s surface in
order to cull random examples of ornamentation. It is not sufficient to
collect patterns or designs in illustration of a theory; in pursuing
such a course one is, so to speak, as likely to gather tares as wheat,
and they may become inextricably mixed. In my studies I have preferred
to limit myself for a time to one particular district, and to gather
together all the available material from that locality. The region
selected was British New Guinea. By putting together all the objects in
our possession known to come from any one locality, I found that the
technique of the decoration and the style of the ornamentation were
characteristic. It soon became apparent that British New Guinea could
be divided into several artistic regions; and so it became possible to
allocate to a definite district objects in museums whose exact locality
was unrecorded. But this is not sufficient; it is one thing to allocate
a particular pattern or group of patterns and designs to their place
of origin, but quite a different matter to trace out the history or
significance of the ornamentation.

In some cases the origin of a design is obvious on the face of it; in
most it is easy to suggest an origin; in others even the most fertile
imagination is at fault. In studies such as these the investigator
should restrain from theorising as far as possible; it is a dangerous
game, for more than one can play at it, and the explanation is as
likely to be wrong as right. The most satisfactory plan is to gather
together as much material as possible, and it will generally be found
that the objects tell their own tale, and all that has to be done is
to record it. When the meaning is not plain, the fault lies in the
imperfection of the series, unless very great conventionalisation has
already occurred, and it is wiser to wait for authoritative information
than to theorise.

One great advantage in the method of confining attention to a limited
area is that similar designs very probably have a genetic connection,
whereas this is by no means the case if objects from different regions
are compared together.

I have recently[4] published a somewhat detailed study of the
decorative art of British New Guinea, to which I may refer the reader
who desires to enter into more minute details. In the following account
I shall first sketch the main characteristics of the art of each
æsthetic region, and finally I shall discuss the influences which act
on the decorative art of these and other districts of New Guinea.

      [4] _The Decorative Art of British New Guinea: A Study in
      Papuan Ethnography_, Cunningham Memoir, No. x., Royal Irish
      Academy, 1894.


The natives who inhabit the islands of Torres Straits are a black,
frizzly-haired, excitable people, and therefore belong to the Papuan,
as opposed to the Australian stock.

Daudai is the native name for the contiguous coast of New Guinea, and
it forms with the islands one ethnographical province. Between their
respective inhabitants was a regular trade, chiefly in canoes, bows and
arrows from the mainland, and in turtle-shell, pearl shell, and other
marine shells from the islands.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.—Bamboo tobacco-pipes; one-tenth natural size.
Torres Straits. Drawn by the author from specimens in the British

Unless otherwise stated, the following description applies to objects
from the Torres Straits islands, the natives of which appear to be
rather more artistic than those of Daudai.

There are two methods of decorating smooth surfaces—(1) by carving the
pattern, the intaglio portion of which is often filled up with powdered
lime (Fig. 2); or (2) the design is engraved on the surface of the
object by means of fine punctate or minutely zigzag lines (Fig. 5).
The former method is alone applied to wooden objects, and also mainly
to those made of turtle-shell (“tortoise-shell”); the latter is that
employed on bamboo pipes and on many turtle-shell objects. Unbroken
lines are very rarely engraved.

It is characteristic of this district that the patterns are inscribed
within parallel lines, whether it be a comb (Fig. 2) or a bamboo pipe
(Fig. 1) which is to be decorated. The parallel lines are first drawn,
and then the pattern is delineated. A noticeable peculiarity is the
preponderance of straight or angled lines to the exclusion of curved
lines. Simple semicircular curves and circles are common, it is true,
but they are not combined into curved patterns; reversed or looped
coils and complex curved lines, such as scrolls, are completely absent.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.—Rubbing of the handle of a wooden comb; one-half
natural size. Torres Straits. In the author’s possession.]

The most common pattern is the ubiquitous zigzag, and this is
pre-eminently characteristic of this region. The zigzag may appear as
an angular wavy line, or each alternate triangle may be left in relief
or emphasised by parallel lines, thus forming a series of alternate
light and dark triangles, or what is sometimes termed a tooth pattern.
It is obvious that when several rows of this pattern are drawn, a
triangle of one row will so coincide with that of the contiguous row as
to form a diamond or lozenge. Strange as it may seem, it appears that
this is the actual way in which even such a simple form as the lozenge
was discovered in this district. Even now, after generations upon
generations of designers carving the same simple patterns, the lozenge
is very frequently made by drawing a median horizontal line parallel to
the boundary lines and then cutting a more or less symmetrical triangle
on each side of it (Fig. 2, third and fifth bands). A herring-bone
pattern (Fig. 2, fourth band) and a few simple combinations of
straight or angled lines complete the decorative attempts of these

We often find that a feeling for symmetry prompts the artist to more or
less design his patterns with regard to the middle-line, although the
latter may not be indicated as such. The same comb offers examples of

It must not be imagined that these people do not employ curved lines
in their patterns because they cannot draw them. On the contrary,
when they wish to represent animals, they can do so with spirit and
truthfulness. The accompanying illustration (Fig. 3) demonstrates
a fair amount of skill and a faculty for seizing upon the salient
features of the animal to be drawn. The diversity of animals is
also noteworthy. Nearly every great group of animals is represented
in native art, and often so faithfully that it is possible for the
naturalist to give the animals their scientific names.

Fig. 3 illustrates some of the animals delineated by the natives of
Torres Straits. On looking over the rubbings and tracings of animal
drawings from this district which I have collected, I find that
over twenty different kinds of animals are represented. Like the
ancient Peruvians, they have not disdained to copy jelly-fish (A)
and star-fishes (B); the former appears to be a medusoid belonging
to the Leptomedusæ. The remarkable hammer-headed shark (C) is often
represented by these people; the group of two sharks and a turtle (D)
occurs on one of a series of pearl shells which are fastened to a band;
(E) is probably an eagle-ray; the strange sucker-fish, which is used
in fishing, is shown in (F), the mouth, however, is on the opposite
side of the body to the dorsal-sucker; (G) is a green tree-frog, the
sucker-bearing toes are indicated in a generalised manner; this is
one of two frogs which are placed in the same position on a bamboo
tobacco-pipe, as are the two snakes (H) on another pipe (cf. Fig. 1);
the black disc between them indicates the hole in which the bowl is
inserted. A crocodile is seen walking along the ground at (I), and a
cassowary (K) is pecking at a seed; its three-rayed tracks are also
shown (cf. Fig. 4); (L) is a cleverly drawn dolphin, and (M) is a
dugong spouting, and below it the waves are indicated. The native dog,
or dingo, is shown at (N), and (O) is a man who has caught a large
mackerel-like fish; his belt, arm- and leg-bands are indicated.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.—Drawings of animals by the natives of Torres
Straits; one-quarter natural size.

A. Jelly-fish; B. Star-fish; C. Hammer-headed shark (_Zygæna_);
D. Group of two sharks (_Charcarodon_) and a turtle; E. Eagle-ray
(_Aëtobatis_); F. Sucker-fish (_Echineis naucrates_); G. Tree-frog
(_Hyla cœrulea_); H. Two snakes on a tobacco-pipe, between them is
the hole in which the bowl is inserted; I. Crocodile (_Crocodilus
porosus_), with foot-prints; K. Cassowary (_Casuarius_) pecking at
a seed [the latter is unfortunately omitted in the figure], and
footprints, cf. Fig. 4; L. Dolphin (_Delphinus_); M. Dugong (_Halicore
australis_) spouting, and indications of waves; N. Native dog (_Canis
dingo_); O. Man with a large mackerel-like fish.

A, B, G, H, L, occur on bamboo tobacco-pipes; C, E, I, K, M, N, O, on
drums; D, F, on pearl shells.

A, B, H, I, L, N, O, British Museum; C, E, K, Cambridge; G, Oxford; D,
F, Berlin.]

As is to be expected among an insular people who are continually on the
sea, there is a preponderance of marine forms.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.—Drum from Daudai; 37½ inches long. Sketched
by author from a specimen in the Cambridge Museum.]

It is somewhat remarkable that no case is known of the delineation
of animals in a linear series, or grouped in any way. They are all
scattered about on the objects decorated with them. The only exceptions
to this rule are in the cases of the drums, pipes, or in a few other
objects; in these two precisely similar animals are symmetrically
disposed with regard to the middle line. For example, in the lower pipe
of Fig. 1 a snake will be seen near the left-hand end, immediately
below the orifice, for the insertion of the bowl of the pipe, and there
is a corresponding snake on the opposite side. I have also noticed a
similar paired arrangement on the backs of four old women. Two women
had scarified upon them a pair of dugong, one a pair of snakes, and
the fourth a pair of objects, which I believe indicated the sting-ray;
now these are three of their totem animals, and the scars upon the
women’s backs indicated the clans to which they severally belonged. As
the paired animals on the drums (Fig. 4) and pipes (Fig. 1, B), etc.
(Fig. 3), are known to be totem animals, it appears probable that the
symmetrical disposition of two animals among these people indicate that
they are totem animals, and marks the object, or rather its owner,
as belonging to a particular clan. This paired arrangement strangely
recalls the “supporters” of our armorial bearings, and there is reason
to believe that these perpetuate in some instances the totem animals of
our savage forefathers.

Another point is worth mentioning. Many of the drums have engraved
on each of their sides the representation of a cassowary (Fig. 4). I
understood that in Mer (Murray Island) only certain people could beat
the drum; thus it would appear that throughout this district the men of
the cassowary clan, at all events, were the musicians.

Like many other savages, these people are more expert in depicting
animals than men, and the human form is rarely copied. Human faces are,
however, very frequently represented in the wooden and turtle-shell
masks for which the Torres Straits natives are famous, and small wooden
human figures were carved on arrows from the mainland, or as wooden or
stone images to act as charms. For analogous purposes models of dugong
and turtle were carved in wood, and many of these are really skilfully
executed works of art, while others are merely conventional renderings,
with a minimum amount of labour expended upon them.

The great dance-masks, to which mention has just been made, are
sometimes very elaborate objects, and the animal forms, which are
often used in combination with the human face, are doubtless symbolic,
but of their meaning we are ignorant. Various sharks, such as the
hammer-headed shark and the saw-fish, the crocodile and a sea-bird, are
very commonly represented.

The association of a human being and crocodile is shown in Fig. 5,
which is taken from a rubbing of a bamboo tobacco-pipe (the white spot
in the centre indicates the hole for the insertion of the bowl). Only
the face and arms of the man are represented. This design is repeated
four times on the same object. The figure also illustrates a concentric
treatment of designs which appears to be characteristic of the mainland
near the mouth of the Fly River.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.—Rubbing of part of the decoration of a bamboo
tobacco-pipe, probably from the mouth of the Fly River; one-third
natural size, in the Liverpool Museum. In the original the lines show
dark on a light ground.]

From about the same district where the last object came from are made
the carved wooden arrows, which are traded by the natives to the
islanders of Torres Straits, and which may be found in many of our
ethnographical museums. All the arrows formerly used in Torres Straits
were imported from the mainland of New Guinea. Of these there were many
kinds: some were quite plain, others had simple wooden barbs, while
others again had bone barbs; it is only with these latter that I am now

No two of these arrows are precisely alike, but they fall into four
main groups—(1) undecorated, or with an occasional simple band pattern
below the barbs; (2) those with the figure of a man carved upon them;
(3) those with a representation of a crocodile; and finally (4) those
with simple patterns, which usually have a longitudinal direction.

I will confine myself to the third group, and will illustrate only
a few of the numerous variations which occur; these will suffice to
indicate what sort of modifications take place, and will enable any one
to interpret the carving on the majority of arrows belonging to this
class which may be met with in a museum.

_The Crocodile Arrow and its Derivatives._—This class of arrows forms
a very interesting series, as it becomes greatly modified. At one end
of the series we have an easily recognisable crocodile; at the other
we have a lizard, or a well-marked snake; and possibly even this may
degenerate into the simplest patterns.

(_a._) _The Crocodile and its Degenerate Forms._—In front of the main
design there are usually a few barbs, much as in the “man-arrow,”
but these barbs may be considerably increased in number in the more
degenerate type, or they may be altogether absent.

It is desirable to first describe a typical crocodile-arrow; and it
will be necessary to call attention to certain well-marked divisions of
the total representation: these are the snout, the head and neck (from
the eyes, inclusive, to the fore-limbs), the fore-limbs, the trunk, the
hind-limbs, and the tail.

(1.) The snout is plain; above, at the anterior extremity, are two
elevations, which are meant for the prominent valvular nostrils of the
crocodile. Occasionally one is placed behind the other (Fig. 6, A),
instead of their being side by side, or even but one may be present.
Laterally the jaws and teeth are usually characteristically rendered.
In one arrow (Fig. 6, B), the teeth of the upper jaw on one side
have, by an easy transition, been transformed into a zigzag line. The
underside of the snout and head is ornamented with lines and dots which
may have a longitudinal or transverse arrangement, or both may occur,
as in Fig. 6, B.

(2.) The head and neck, like the snout, are plain above, except for an
occasional representation of scales on the neck (Fig. 6, C), and the
ventral ornamentation is a continuation of that of the underside of
the snout. The eye is triangular, with the apex behind, rarely oval,
as in Fig. 6, C; a band-pattern, usually a zigzag, which is always
distinguishable from the ventral ornamentation, extends from the eye to
the fore-limb.

(3.) The region of the fore-limb has generally the greatest thickness
of the whole arrow. The limbs often arise from an ornamental band (Fig.
6, A), which represents the prominent scutes in this region of the real
animal. The fore-limbs first project backwardly, and then run forwards
towards the middle ventral line. The toes are usually indicated by
transverse lines.

(4.) The trunk has usually a row of chevrons or diamonds running along
the dorsal and ventral median lines; the lateral ornamentation usually
consists of transverse lines, separated by rows of spots; sometimes
these run longitudinally.

(5.) The hind-limbs may be separated dorsally by a triangular area
(Fig. 6, A), or by a row of tubercles (Fig. 6, E). The limbs invariably
bend forwards, and then backwards. The enclosed angle contains a row of
spots or rarely a plain ridge.

(6.) Typically the tail is ornamented with three, occasionally two,
dorsal rows of tubercles. The median row is a continuation of the
median series, or the triangular area above noted; sometimes the median
row is directly continuous with the central series on the back of the
trunk. The lateral rows start from the insertions of the hind-limbs
(Fig. 6, A, E, D). Beneath there is a large quadrangular plate,
ornamented with concentric lines, the sides of which often extend up to
the dorso-lateral angle of the tail.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.—Series of arrows from Torres Straits, collected
and sketched by the author, and presented by him to the Cambridge
Museum; one-third natural size.]

On comparing a number of crocodile-arrows with the animal itself, one
is struck with the numerous realistic details which have survived
the decorative treatment of the design. It must be remembered that
one is dealing with a work of decorative art, and not an attempt at
realistic carving. In one arrow several anatomical characteristics of
the crocodile will be suggestively rendered; in a second other details
will be more accurately carved; but in the great majority of arrows
belonging to this series, variation has occurred to such an extent that
the crocodile becomes almost unrecognisable as such.

A very typical crocodile arrow is to be seen in Fig. 6, A; the chief
variation in this is the placing of one nostril behind the other.

In Fig. 6, B, the nostrils are side by side, and the teeth of the upper
jaw are represented by a zigzag line. The hind-limbs and the tail are
entirely absent.

Fig. 6, C, is important in several respects. The nostril is single, the
mouth is partially closed; but the teeth have not, as yet, entirely
disappeared from the hinder closed moiety. The eye is oval, a rare
feature, and the dorsal scales of the neck are represented; this is
also rare. The fore-limbs have been converted into a raised zigzag
band, which encircles the arrow. The hind-limbs do the same, except
that the pattern is interrupted in the median dorsal line by a double
row of tubercles, which represent the prominent dorsal scutes of this
region in the living animal. The thigh is carved with a curved upper
border and a straight lower border.

There is rather a gap in the series between Fig. 6, C and D; but it is
easy to see that the hinder part of the mouth is closed, and the teeth
of both jaws are represented by different patterns; the front part of
the mouth is widely open, but edentulous. The nostril is single. The
eye has become enormously enlarged, and constitutes what I propose to
term an eye-panel; it extends backwardly to the fore-limb. The plain
upper surface of the head and neck has become much reduced, owing to
the encroachment of a double row of spots on each side. The artist
mistook the upper for the lower surface when he carved the fore-limbs,
for it will be seen that the toes are above and the dorsal scutes are
placed below. Another point of interest is the replacing of the central
row of caudal scutes by a plain ridge; so far as I am aware this is

Fig. 6, E, is a type of a large number of arrows. The front open part
of the mouth is quite small, and the surfaces of the jaws are scored by
oblique lines. The median dorsal plain band of the snout is no wider
than the lateral bands which indicate the closed hinder part of the
mouth. In the gape of the mouth an elongated triangle is very generally
present; this is doubtless intended to represent a tongue. Sometimes
it is notched. The eye-panels are elongated and narrow, and the dorsal
median band of the head and neck extremely reduced. The rest of the
body in this arrow calls for no special mention. Sometimes eyes are
carved on the dorsal surface of the gaping end of the upper jaw.

In the last arrow (Fig. 6, F) of the series which I figure, the front
part of the mouth has disappeared; but the hinder part of the head is
much the same as in the last arrow. The fore-limbs and body are absent.
The hind-limbs are narrow, but retain their characteristic forward
bend; the dorsal caudal scutes are replaced by numerous parallel
transverse lines.

[Illustration: FIG. 7. Snake-arrow from Torres Straits (cf. Fig. 6).]

Two features of the innumerable modifications of this design are
worthy of special allusion, the one is the remarkable retention of the
projecting nostril, which may often be found as a slight prominence in
very degraded arrows; and the other is the still greater persistence of
the tail and hindquarters of the crocodile. I suspect that the striking
decorative effect of the concentrically marked cloacal plate has
led not only to the retention of that part, but also to that of the
neighbouring organs.

(_b._) _The Snake Variety._—We now pass on to a small group in which
the open front part of the mouth of such an arrow as Fig. 6, E, has
suggested a complete head, and so eyes are added (Fig. 7); the rest
of the snout, the head and fore-limbs are omitted; the body is much
elongated, but the hind legs and tail are usually quite normal, or
subject to merely minor variations; the patterns may run transversely
as in the figure, or longitudinally. Such a carving irresistibly calls
to mind a snake; the natives themselves told me it was a snake.

The tail and hindquarters, however, proclaim the crocodilian original.
In this group of arrows we have a very interesting example of the
transition from one kind of animal into another; but hitherto I have
not seen a snake-arrow which has lost all trace of its saurian ancestry.

(_c._) _The Lizard Variety._—A few arrows are known to me which pretty
closely resemble Fig. 6, E, except that the hind-limbs are elongated
and slender, and the tail is not crocodilian. The body is depressed and
lozenge-shaped in section. In other words, the body, hind legs, and
tail are lacertilian in character. In these arrows, the crocodile has
been confounded with a lizard.

Other illustrations of the decorative art of these people will be found
in Figs. 44, 66; but as these examples illustrate other aspects of the
subject, I have described them in the relating sections of this book
and refrain from repeating them here.


The Fly River is the largest river in New Guinea. It rises from about
the area where the Dutch, German, and British territories abut, and
flows into the western side of the Gulf of Papua. For a great part of
its course it flows through low-lying and often swampy country, which
is but sparsely inhabited, except in the delta region. For our present
purpose we need only consider the delta and the middle region of the
river. Owing to the carelessness of collectors, it is very difficult to
determine from what exact district many objects labelled “Fly River”
actually come.

The largest island in the delta of the Fly River is Kiwai, and this
contains several villages. Almost the only objects which can be safely
referred to Kiwai are the tubular drums with “jaws” at one end. There
can be but little doubt that the carving represents the head of the
crocodile, just as in the large Torres Straits and Daudai drum the
“jaws” probably are derived from the same reptile. The carving on the
Kiwai drums is boldly executed, and usually filled in with red and
white pigment.

So far as I can discover, the etching on the bamboo tobacco-pipes is
similar in many respects to that on those from the previous district,
but the zigzag lines are usually much coarser, and the punctate line is
either rare or absent.

In some of the islands in the delta of the Fly River, at Daumori for
example, carved wooden slabs, more or less ovoid in contour, are
suspended on the front of a house for good luck; some of these are also
employed as figure-heads for canoes to ensure successful voyages. They
have carved upon them conventional human faces, and occasionally whole
figures, accompanied by simple patterns.[5]

      [5] I hope to publish shortly a paper in the _Internationales
      Archiv für Ethnographie_, on the designs which are incised on
      the skin of these natives.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.—Rubbing of one side of the decoration of a drum
from the Fly River, in the Museum at Rome; one-fourth natural size.]

_Middle District of the Fly River._—The most extensive collection of
objects at present in Europe from the interior of New Guinea along the
Fly River is that in the museum in Rome. These were “collected” by
Signor d’Albertis, mainly at what he named “Villaggio dei cocchi,”
which is probably the same place reached by Sir William MacGregor on
January 7th, 1890; it is situated about 380 miles from the mouth of the

The drums from this district differ in shape from those from other
parts of the Possession, and a somewhat elaborate ornamentation is
carved on them in low relief. The means do not at present exist for
elucidating the significance of these designs (Fig. 8), which are
compounded of crescentic lines, leaf-like and triradiate elements and
spirals. Some of the figures certainly look as if they were intended to
represent leaves; if this is the case, it may be due to some influence
from the north, for we find that leaf-designs are employed in the north
of Netherlands New Guinea. Dr. M. Uhle[6] states that “the influence of
the plant ornamentation of the East Indian Archipelago is also found
in West New Guinea. Although it is essentially characteristic of the
western portion of the East Indian Archipelago, isolated examples are
not wanting in the ornamentation of the eastern.” He thinks he can
trace the plant motive in South-West New Guinea as far as Wamuka River.

      [6] “Holz- und Bambus-Geräthe aus Nord West Neu Guinea,”
      _Publicationen aus dem Königlichen Ethnographiscen Museum zu
      Dresden_, vi., 1886.

The bamboo pipes are also decorated in a characteristic manner, the
pattern being caused by a local removal of the skin of the bamboo,
so that it shows darker against a light background. There is usually
considerably more regularity in the decoration than occurs on the


We have no information concerning the decorative art of the greater
portion of the littoral of the Papuan Gulf, but from two rubbings sent
to me by my friend, Mr. Robert Bruce, in 1894, it appears that the
human face is largely represented. In Fig. 9 we see that simplified
faces constitute a pattern which adorns a canoe.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.—Rubbing of part of a carved pattern, along a
canoe from near Cape Blackwood. Taken by R. Bruce, 1894. One-sixth
natural size.]

At the eastern side of the bight of the Gulf of Papua there is a
very energetic, boisterous people of dark complexion, who inhabit
the vicinity of Freshwater Bay. Their best known village is Toaripi
(Motu Motu); the term Elema includes this and other tribes in the

The district is fertile, wooded, and well-watered. Sago is abundant,
and fleets of trading canoes sail annually to and from the Motu tribe
of Port Moresby to exchange pottery for sago.

The decorative art of this district is so characteristic that it is
impossible to mistake it. Objects of wood are cut in flat relief, and
those made of bamboo are similarly treated, the design being emphasised
by the colouring of the intaglio. The vast majority of the designs
are derived from the human figure, and most particularly the face.
There are very few designs which cannot be traced to this origin;
occasionally a crocodile or a lizard may be introduced.

The employment of masks during sacred ceremonies, which was such a
notable feature of Torres Straits, recurs here also to an equal degree,
but instead of the masks being made in wood or turtle-shell, they are
constructed of a light framework on which is stitched the inner bark of
a tree. The device is outlined by cloissons of the midrib of a leaf,
and the figures are picked out in red and black, and the background is
usually painted white. This _cloissonée_ technique is peculiar to this
district, and it appears to have affected also the method of carving
patterns in wood.

The form and decoration of these masks is so varied that it would
be tedious to describe them. In the majority of them a human face
is readily recognisable, but in some of the larger examples it has
practically become lost. In nearly all, instead of a human mouth, the
mask is provided with a long snout, the jaws of which are usually
numerously toothed. There can be little doubt that this represents
a crocodile’s snout. Almost wherever it occurs, the crocodile or
alligator, as the case may be, enters into the religion of people,
doubtless, primarily, on account of its size and predatory habits. It
is very frequently a totem, as, for example, in Torres Straits, and it
is very probable that here also its presence in conjunction with the
human form is symbolic of a totemistic relation between the man and the
reptile. We know extremely little about the use, and nothing of the
significance, of the masks of this region, but it appears that their
use is in connection with the initiation of the lads into manhood, and
a common feature of initiation is the association of the totem with
the individual. Some masks represent what appears to be intended for a
pig’s head; a bird and other forms may also be introduced. Occasionally
a human head may be given to a grotesque animal form.

The shields are oblong or ovoid in shape, and have a central slit
cut out at the top. Most of the former are decorated with an easily
recognisable human face; sometimes the face is doubled, but in these
cases it is only the nose and mouth that are repeated, a single pair
of eyes having to do duty for the two faces. The faces are subject to
considerable modification, the two eyes, or even only a single eye may
alone be recognisable.

Characteristic of typical New Guinea villages are large houses which
men alone may enter. Here the lads who are being initiated into manhood
are lodged, here the masks and other sacred objects are kept; they
combine the offices of clubs, guest-houses, and religious edifices.
In this district, as well as in the Fly River delta, they are usually
decorated with human and animal carvings, and in them are suspended
wooden slabs of an elongated oval shape, which are carved in a similar
manner to the shields. These tablets appear to be employed as charms
for good-luck, but we do not know whether they are also used in the
initiation ceremonies; they are decorated with extremely conventional
representations of the human form, or may be only a face; sometimes
monstrous combinations of a man and animal may be carved.

When men have passed through all the stages of initiation, they are
entitled, so Mr. Chalmers informs us, to wear broad, carved wooden
belts. These belts encircle the body thrice, and like many other
symbols of distinction must be extremely inconvenient to wear. I have
made rubbings of quite a considerable number of these belts, and have
come across only a few in which human faces could not be distinguished.

The design is so engraved that the pattern is in flat relief; this is
kept dark in colour, and shows up against the whitened background.
Certain details of the design are often picked out in red, the exposed
uncarved portion of the belt and most usually the narrow plain border
above and below the pattern are painted red. The design commences at
one end of the belt, and terminates when one circumference is nearly

There is a wonderful diversity of pattern in these belts, yet, at
the same time, there is a fundamental similarity in the style of
the designs which clearly indicates a community of origin. A very
considerable proportion of the belts known to me exhibit a true
decorative taste on the part of artists, and in some cases pleasing
and ingenious patterns have been evolved. It may not be superfluous
to point out that, whereas “eye-spots” are usually intended for eyes,
they are sometimes employed as an appropriate decorative device;
similarly toothed lines may represent human teeth, rarely hair, and not
infrequently they are purely ornamental.

I have made a selection of ten of these belts which sufficiently
illustrate their character and the sort of modification which occurs.
Figs. 11 to 19 are photographed from rubbings of part of the decoration
of wooden belts from the Papuan Gulf. Fig. 10 represents the whole of
the ornamentation. All are one-fourth natural size.


_Human Face Derivatives._

      1. Faces looking the same way.
      2. Faces alternately looking up and down.

      1. Faces looking the same way.
      2. Faces alternately looking towards and away from one another.
          (_a_) All faces separate.
          (_b_) Faces looking towards one another grouped together.
          (_c_) Faces looking away from one another grouped together.

      1. Faces only looking towards one another.
      2. Faces only looking away from one another.
      3. Faces alternately looking towards and away from one another.
          (A) All faces of equal size.
          (B) Faces looking towards one another most prominent.
          (C) Faces looking away from one another most prominent.


        I. _Vertical faces looking towards one another._
          1. Horizontal faces looking the same way.
          2. Horizontal faces alternately looking towards or away
              from one another.
          (A) All faces of equal size.
          (B) Vertical faces monopolising pattern.
              (_a_) Horizontal faces separate.
              (_b_) Horizontal faces looking towards one another
                    grouped together.
              (_c_) Horizontal faces looking away from one another
                    grouped together.
          (C) Horizontal faces monopolising pattern.
              (_a_) Horizontal faces separate.
              (_b_) Horizontal faces looking towards one another
                    grouped together.
              (_c_) Horizontal faces looking away from one another
                    grouped together.
       II. _Vertical faces looking away from one another._

I. _Single row of faces disposed vertically, the faces alternately
looking up and down._

Fig. 10 is a reduced rubbing of the whole of the ornamentation of a
belt; to the left will be seen a face with two eyes, a nose, and a
large red mouth beset with teeth. The next face has only one eye, while
the other two faces are eyeless, and there is nothing distinctive about
their noses.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.—Cambridge Museum.]

[Illustration: FIG. 11.—Glasgow Museum.]

II. _Single row of faces disposed horizontally._

(1.) _The faces looking the same way._—The belt of Fig. 11 has four
faces, which are as degenerate as those in the last example; three of
these look one way, and the fourth, which is at one end of the pattern,
looks in the opposite direction. It is not unusual for a face to be
carved at each end of the decorated portion of a belt, and as these
faces almost always look towards the pattern, the anomaly of one face
in this belt looking a different way from the remainder is apparent
rather than real. But the most interesting feature in this belt is the
meander or fret pattern. The extremely degenerate face appears to be,
as in. Fig. 10, a red mouth containing an eye-spot; the central chevron
also occurs in Fig. 19, where it represents the nose.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.—Kerrama, Berlin Museum.]

(2.) _The faces alternately looking towards and away from one
another._—I will omit examples in which (_a_) _all the faces are
separate_, and (_b_) _the faces looking towards one another are grouped
together_, and pass on to (_c_) _the faces looking away from one
another are grouped together_. An elegant example of this is seen in
Fig. 12. The two pairs of eyes of the two faces which are turned away
from each other are represented by a single eye from which a horizontal
line extends on either side to the two mouths; each line represents
a nose, the nostrils of which are placed quite close to the eye. The
eyes are surrounded by simple red areas. The spaces between the mouths,
above and below the eye (speaking in terms of the belt, and not of
the faces), are occupied by additional mouths, which are evidently
inserted from a sense of symmetry; that they are supplemented, and not
essential, is proved by the absence of any nasal line connecting them
with the eye. The spirals below each mouth occur on several shields.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.—British Museum.]

An interesting belt (Fig. 13) exhibits quite a different modification
of the same motive. The pattern consists of a series of eight-rayed
figures with bent arms, and a central eye-spot. A comparison of these
figures with the eyes on masks, and other objects from this district,
proves that the six rays are but a symmetrical coalescence of two
pairs of eye-areas.[7] The angled double lines are clearly those
prolongations of the eye-area which in many cases tend to enclose the
mouth, and which probably represent the cheek-folds; and thus they
demonstrate the interpretation that each star is derived from two
horizontal faces which are looking away from each other, and of which
nothing remains but a confluent eye-area, enclosing a single eye. The
terminal faces are sufficiently normal; but if two such faces were
placed back to back, and the eye-areas were confluent, and the four
eyes fused into one, and finally the nose and mouth were eliminated,
we should have star-like figures resembling those which do occur. If a
reflector is placed across the eyes in the terminal face in Fig. 13 (at
right angles to the plane of the paper, and across the long axis of the
belt) a star-like figure can be seen, which is very similar to those in
the rest of the belt. This is one of the few belts that have no border

      [7] I have adopted the term “eye-area” to denote the eye
      device, which includes the eye, the eye-lashes, and often the
      cheek-fold of that side.

III. _Double row of faces disposed vertically._

(1.) _The faces only looking towards one another._—In the belt
represented in Fig. 14 there is a double row of faces which are placed
_vis-à-vis_. The figure illustrates varying degrees of degeneracy in
the faces; each space between a pair of faces is occupied by a large
red star with a central eye-spot. The representation of a lizard on
this belt is noteworthy.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.—British Museum.]

(2.) _The faces only looking away from one another._—In Fig. 15 it is
evident that we have a double series of faces which are placed back to
back; the two pairs of eyes are represented by a central eye. The noses
and mouths of the different faces are joined together and constitute a
fairly regular pattern.

(3.) _The faces alternately looking towards and away from one
another._—In this series the faces may all be equally developed, or
those facing one another may be most prominent, or, on the other hand,
those looking away from one another may monopolise the design.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.—Toaripi (Author’s Collection).]

[Illustration: FIG. 16.—Berlin Museum.]

A simple modification of the subdivision in which the faces are all
equal is to be found in Fig. 16. In this case the two eyes of each
face have amalgamated, and a short line represents the nose; but their
disposition is still typical. The oblique lines uniting the noses
are evidently the remains of the mouths of their respective faces; a
tooth-pattern may be present or absent. The chevrons merely fill up the
vacant angles. The terminal face is represented by a red three-rayed
area, containing an eye-spot.

IV. _Double row of faces disposed horizontally._

No example of this arrangement is known to me.

V. _Treble row of faces._

This is a composite series which is composed of Series II. and III. It
resolves itself into two main groups, the second of which, so far as I
am aware, is represented by only a single specimen.

(I.) _Vertical faces looking towards one another._—Owing to the variety
of their component elements the patterns in this series of belts are
liable to considerable variation, but there is no need to enter into an
analysis of the possible modifications.

In Fig. 17 we have an example of the preponderance of the horizontal
faces, while some of the vertical faces are extremely degraded.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.—Maiva, Berlin Museum.]

Fig. 18 represents a condition in which the vertical faces are
monocular; the line beneath the eye is evidently the suggestion of a
nose, and the angled dentate line indicates the mouth with its teeth.
All these faces are equally developed. The horizontal series of faces
belong to Series II., 2, _b_, as the faces looking towards one another
are grouped together. In the centre of each space between a pair of
vertical faces is a mouth which has to do duty for two horizontal
faces; on each side of this is a horizontal line which is a vestigial
nose, the arrow-head figure on which indicates the nostrils. The eye
between the mouths of the vertical faces represents two pairs of eyes
of the horizontal series.

(II.) _Vertical faces looking away from one another._—The only belt
with which I am acquainted which probably belongs to this subdivision
of the series is that reproduced in Fig. 19. The design is more regular
and sustained than is usually the case on these belts. The vertical
series of faces is represented by a median series of fused mouths
and eyes; the chevron band indicates the nose, on which nostrils may
be located close to the mouth or close to the eye. The eyes of the
vertical series of faces are enclosed within confluent eye-areas; the
median nose-line runs to the border pattern of the belt, but there is
no trace of a mouth. The border pattern is, I believe, unique on belts.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.—Edinburgh Museum.]

The bamboo tobacco-pipes are ornamented by scraping away some of the
rind of the bamboo and colouring the intaglio portions with brown
pigment; in these also the designs are based on human faces and their
derivatives; sometimes the human form is employed, and occasionally
zoomorphs are depicted.

It would be tedious to describe all the objects which are decorated by
these artistic people; enough examples have been given to illustrate
the style of their art. We cannot at present say why anthropomorphs
should predominate in so marked a degree. I suspect it has something
to do with the importance of initiation ceremonies combined with
the ancestor cult, which is a marked feature of the true Papuans. I
would also hazard the conjecture that animal totemism is not of such
prominence amongst these people as it was recently in Torres Straits,
and still is on the neighbouring coast of New Guinea and in Australia.

[Illustration: FIG. 19.—Museum of the London Missionary Society.]


In Yule Island, and in the vicinity of Hall Sound, and right away down
the coast of New Guinea as far as Cloudy Bay, we come across a fairly
uniform and rather uninteresting type of decorative art.

The designs are burnt into bamboo tobacco-pipes or gourds, “with a
glowing slice of the sheathing leaf of the coco-nut kept almost at a
white heat by the native artist blowing upon it. The end of the glowing
ember forms a fine point, which on being slowly moved along the desired
lines leaves indelible tracks.” (Lindt, _Picturesque New Guinea_, 1888,
p. 34.) In Cloudy Bay the natives scratch the design on the rind of the
bamboo before charring it; this tends to limit the burning, and to give
a hard edge to the lines. Here also the designs run along the length
of the pipes in distinct bands; in other parts of the Central District
longitudinal bands are broken by encircling bands, and are often
replaced by panels.

The employment of isolated, rectangular panels is very characteristic
of this district. On such objects as tobacco-pipes the panels must
from necessity follow one another more or less serially, but they need
not be co-ordinated into a definite pattern. When larger surfaces are
ornamented, as, for example, the bodies of women (Fig. 20, A, B),
the panels may also be somewhat irregularly disposed; but there is a
tendency, at all events in some places (as in the figure), for the
designs to have an orderly and symmetrical arrangement, but in no case
is there absolute symmetry.

[Illustration: FIG. 20, A.—Drawing of Tabuta, a Motu girl, by Rev. W.
Y. Turner, M.D. (from _Journ. Anth. Inst._, vii., 1878, Fig. 4, p. 480).

B.—Back view of the same. (The hair of this girl is incorrectly drawn,
it should be frizzly and not wavy.)]

A common form of panel is the Maltese cross (Fig. 21, H, I); perhaps
it would be more accurate to describe it as a light St. Andrew’s cross
on a dark rectangular panel. A combination of light St. George’s and
St. Andrew’s crosses on dark fields is very frequent; the arms of the
latter cross often become leaf-like, and may monopolise the field.
(Fig. 21, E, F.) Some travellers have suggested that these designs are
derived from the Union Jack, but this is not the case. Another kind of
panel is that shown in Fig. 21, G. Fig. 21, D, illustrates one form of
a common type of band pattern.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.—A. Design on a lime-gourd from Kerepunu; B.
Part of the decoration of a pipe from Maiva; C. Detail on a pipe from
Kupele, in the Berlin Museum; D-I. Designs on pipes—G from Kupele
(Berlin), H, I, from Koiari (Berlin). All the Figs. are to different

One of the most widespread of the isolated designs is that shown in
Fig. 21, A, B, and Fig. 22, but it is subject to many variations.
Similar designs are tattooed on people below the armpit or on the
shoulder. Now that attention has been called to this and other designs,
we shall probably learn what significance is attached to them.
Occasionally we find what appear to be undoubted plant motives on
pipes and other objects from this district, as, for example, on a pipe
from Kupele in the Berlin Museum (Fig. 21, C), and it is probable that
the designs just alluded to are also plant derivatives.

[Illustration: FIG. 22. Part of the decoration of a pipe in the
Cambridge Museum; one-sixth natural size.]

Throughout this district, especially along the coast, the women are
tattooed, and in some localities they are entirely covered with tattoo
marks. The men are much less tattooed than the women.[8] The designs
employed are for the most part the same as those used to decorate pipes
and gourds. The angled design tattooed on the chests of women (Fig. 20,
A, B) is found on a pipe in the Cambridge Museum. (Fig. 22.)

      [8] According to Mr. A. C. English, Government Agent for the
      Rigo District, among the Sinaugolo tribe, the design Fig. 21,
      D, is called _mulavapuli_, and is tattooed on both sexes as
      a distinction for taking life; Fig. 21, H, I, _biubiu_, have
      a similar value; the angled chest-marks (Fig. 20, A, B) are
      called _boaroko_. (_Ann. Rep. British New Guinea_, 1893-94, pp.
      68, 69.)

Noticeable features in the decorative art of this district are the
preponderance of straight lines over curved lines; as well as the
occurrence of dotted lines and of very short lines, which form a kind
of fringe to many of the lines. (Figs. 21, 22, 51.)

Very remarkable also is the absence of the delineation of the human or
of animal forms. Bounded on the north-west by a luxuriant art based on
human faces and forms, and limited to the south-east by bird-scrolls
and bird and crocodile derivatives, not to mention human effigies and
representations of various animals, these central folk are unaffected
by these two very distinct forms of artistic activity. The only
exceptions, so far as my evidence goes, is in the transitional country
north of Hall Sound, and a few carvings of crocodiles in certain tabu
houses or _dubus_.

The rigid conservatism of the native mind is the sheet-anchor of the
ethnographer; no better example of this mental rigidity is needed
than is supplied by the Motu people who live in the vicinity of Port
Moresby. The women make large quantities of pottery, which the men
trade for sago up the Papuan Gulf even to a distance of two hundred
miles. Three or more canoes lashed together and fitted with crates
constitute a trading canoe or _lakatoi_. A fleet of twenty _lakatoi_
carrying about six hundred men, each of whom would take about fifty
pots, has been known to sail from Port Moresby. The 20,000 or 30,000
exported pots will bring in exchange a cargo of 150 tons, or more, of
sago. Notwithstanding this great annual trading, the decorative art of
the Motu is absolutely untouched by that of the Gulf natives, or _vice
versâ_; the artistic motives, scheme of decoration, and technique are
entirely different.

It seems probable that many of the decorated objects that are labelled
in European museums as coming from this district are the work of the
hill tribes, or of that coast population which does not belong solely
to the Motu and allied tribes.


The country at the extreme south-east end of New Guinea round Milne
Gulf, together with the neighbouring groups of islands, constitutes a
natural province to which I have proposed to extend the name Massim.
For the history of this term the reader is referred to Professor
Hamy’s paper, “Étude sur les Papouas de la Mer d’Entrecasteaux” (_Rev.
d’Ethnogr._, vii., 1888, p. 503). The various archipelagoes which
collectively constitute this district are—(1) The Moresby Group,
including all the islands between Milne Gulf and Wari (Teste Island);
(2) the Louisiade Group, including Misima, Tagula (Sudest), and all
neighbouring islands; (3) the D’Entrecasteaux Group, including Duau
(Normanby Island), Goodenough, and the other islands; (4) the Trobriand
Group, the largest island in which is Kiriwina; and (5) the Woodlark
Group (Murua, etc.), and including Nada (the Laughlan Islands). There
is a considerable amount of indigenous trade between these islands.
For example, the Nada folk make annual trading voyages to Murua to
exchange coco-nuts for taro. Dr. Finsch says (_Samoafahrten_, 1888,
pp. 207-209), “A great many objects (such as the beautiful lime
calabashes) are bartered from the Woodlark Islands, the inhabitants of
which with their large sea-going canoes undertake extensive trading
voyages.... At all events Trobriand is visited from Normanby, Welle
[a small island close by the latter] and Woodlark Islands, for the
Trobrianders themselves probably do not undertake trading voyages.”
In describing the manufacture of earthen pots at Wari (Teste Island),
Finsch says (_Samoafahrten_, p. 281) the upper border of these pots
“exhibits various simple band patterns which are scratched with
fork-like bamboo instruments, and which serve not for ornament but as
trade marks. Thus here also each woman has her own mark with which
she signs her fabrication. The pottery has an extended sale as far as
the D’Entrecasteaux and to Chads Bay, South Cape, Woodlark Island,
and perhaps also to the Louisiades.” In my _Memoir_ (p. 223) I have
included a MS. description of the manufacture of pottery in the same
island, which was kindly placed at my disposal by Dr. H. O. Forbes, and
I also copied Dr. Forbes’ sketches. (Fig. 23.) The Wari people have
to import wood for their houses, and also, like the natives of the
Engineer Group, who are great traders, they procure canoes from Pannaet
(Deboyne Island). Owing to the trading which occurs amongst these
islands and with the mainland, it is very difficult to determine from
specimens of native work in European collections what style of work is
characteristic of each of these groups, especially as comparatively few
specimens are properly labelled. I have, however, but little doubt that
each group has characteristic designs and forms, and possibly in some
cases these may be peculiar to them.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.—Clay pot with an incised pattern, from Wari
(Teste Island), after a sketch by Dr. H. O. Forbes.]

Throughout the whole of this district one finds lime-spatulas,[9]
wooden clubs, canoe carvings, and other objects ornamented with
scrolls. Nowhere else in British New Guinea do we find the continuous
loop coil pattern, the guilloche, or loop coils. The spiral is absent
from the Torres Straits and Daudai, but present up the Fly River and
in the Papuan Gulf. It is absent again in the Central District, but
reappears in the Massim Archipelagoes. It is only in the last district
that we meet with a wealth of curved lines. What is the meaning of this?

      [9] Southward of the Papuan Gulf, and in all the islands of
      the south-eastern extremity of New Guinea, the natives chew
      the betel-nut, and when chewing transfer quick-lime from
      gourds (“lime-gourds”) to their mouths by means of flat carved
      sticks (“lime-spatulas”). These vary greatly in form and in
      the character of their carving. The intaglio is filled in with
      lime, so that the design appears white on the polished ebony
      handles. These objects are often called “chunam spoons,” but
      they are never spoon-shaped, and there is no need to introduce
      an Anglo-Tamil word for lime.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.—Rubbing of the half of one side of the handle
of a spatula in the author’s collection; one-third natural size.]

[Illustration: FIG. 25.—Rubbings of both sides of a float for a
fishing-net; one-half natural size.]

All over this district we find decorative art permeated with the
influence of the frigate bird. This beautiful bird is the sacred bird
of the West Pacific. I shall allude to it again in a later section.
The bird, or its head only, is often carved more or less in the
round, especially for the decoration of canoes. It must, however, be
remembered that such representations are conventional and not strictly

The same head is repeated on the handle of a spatula (Fig. 24), the
curved tip of the beak of one bird forming the head of the bird
immediately in front of it. From this simple origin the varied and
beautiful scroll patterns have been developed. One important factor
in the evolution of this pattern has been the confining of the design
within narrow bands. When a band happens to be exceptionally broad, one
often finds that the pattern becomes erratic. Queer contorted designs
also result from the attempt to cover a relatively broad area, as in
Fig. 25. Here there is nothing to guide or restrain the artist, except
the boundary of the float; but on canoe carvings and some other objects
there are usually structural or vestigial features, round which the
design may be said to crystallise, and in these cases the pattern is
approximately or entirely symmetrical.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.—Rubbing of upper two-thirds of the decoration
of a club, in the Glasgow Museum; one-third natural size.]

[Illustration: FIG. 27. FIG. 28. FIG. 29. FIG. 30.

Rubbings of part of the decoration of clubs; one-third natural size.
Figs. 27 and 28, D’Entrecasteaux, Edinburgh Museum; Figs. 29 and 30,
Cambridge Museum.]

The triangular spaces left above and below the beaks in the bird-scroll
pattern are usually more or less filled up with crescentic lines, as
in Fig. 26. Sometimes they are blank, and in this case the triangles
may be coloured red instead of the white lime which is rubbed into
the carving. The eyes of the birds are, as often as not, omitted
altogether. (Figs. 27-30.) Their presence seems to have a conservative
effect on the design, for where absent the elements of the design may
slip upon or run into one another.

In Fig. 27 we have a good example of what I mean by the slipping of the
elements of the design, with the result that a guilloche is arrived at.
It will be noticed in this figure that the ends of the curved lines
are mostly joined by an oblique bar. These oblique bars have become
emphasised in Fig. 28, and a degeneration of the curved lines results
in a simple pattern.

An example of the elements of the design running into one another
is shown in Fig. 29, which, like the last two figures, is a reduced
rubbing of part of the decoration of a sword-shaped wooden club. The
band, shown in Fig. 30, is on the handle of the same club; the central
pattern is clearly a simplification of that on the blade of the club,
and it passes naturally into the zigzag carved below it.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.—Rubbing of the pattern round the upper margin
of a betel-pestle in the Cambridge Museum; one-third natural size.]

In a carved border round the top of a betel-pestle (Fig. 31) the
bird’s-head scroll has become simplified, and at the same time
developed into a more convolute scroll. A very degraded example is seen
in the upper band of Fig. 32.

It would be easy to multiply examples of simple and complex derivatives
of the bird’s-head motive, but these few will serve to demonstrate the
kind of modifications which occur.

[Illustration: FIG. 32.—Rubbing of part of the carved rim of a wooden
bowl from the D’Entrecasteaux Islands; one-third natural size.]

[Illustration: FIG. 33.—Rubbing of the handle of a turtle-shell
spatula, from the Louisiades, in the British Museum; one-half natural

Instead of only the head with its beak, the neck of the bird may be
introduced. Fig. 33 is from a rubbing of a beautiful spatula in the
British Museum, carved in turtle-shell (tortoise-shell); in it will
be seen the interlocking of birds’ beaks and of birds’ necks. If the
interlocking beaks were isolated we should get the band pattern which
runs along the concavity of the crescentic handle.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.—Rubbing of the decoration of one side of a
club; one-third natural size. The block is turned round to show the
pattern more clearly, the zigzag bands in reality run across the blade
of the flat club.]

The birds’ heads and necks are usually confined to bands, and the
design becomes subject to a new set of influences. A careful
inspection of Fig. 34 will give the key to many details that
may be found in carved objects from this district. In the band
immediately below the central band are seen the heads and necks of
three birds which have already undergone a slight transformation.
In the corresponding band above the central band a bird is readily
recognisable, but those on each side of it have degenerated into looped
coils. The other designs can easily be recognised as bird derivatives.

The birds’ heads and necks may be so arranged in a linear series that
interlocking takes place. In some cases one can distinguish between the
beaks and the necks; in others, as, for example, in the outer bands of
Fig. 35, this is impossible. The interlocking of the beaks or necks,
as the case may be, and the isolation of the involved parts, has given
rise to the central pattern on this spatula. Simple or complex coils
like the last are of frequent occurrence in decorated objects from
these islands. Both kinds of coil are found in Fig. 34, and by far the
greater number of them can be proved to be bird derivatives.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.—Rubbing of the handle of a spatula in the
British Museum; one-third natural size.]

The eyes of the heads in such a pattern as the two outer bands of
Fig. 35 may disappear, and here also the elements of the design may
fuse with each other. These two phases of decadence have overtaken the
pattern shown in Fig. 36, A, which is the decoration of a spatula with
a three-sided handle; on another side (B) the degeneration has advanced
a stage, and on the third side (C) it has run its course, and again the
bird-motive has degenerated into a zigzag.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.—Rubbings of the three sides of the handle of
a spatula from the D’Entrecasteaux, in the Dublin Museum; one-half
natural size.]

[Illustration: FIG. 37.—A, B. Sketches of two stages of the “bird
bracket” of two spatulas, probably from the Woodlarks, in the author’s
collection, C, D. Analogous details from canoe carvings—C. From a
photograph; D. From a specimen in the Edinburgh Museum. Not drawn to
the same scale.]

Some spatulas have small lateral adjuncts or “brackets,” as I have
elsewhere termed them. In spatulas which come, I believe, from the
Trobriands and Woodlarks, these brackets are often carved to represent
two birds’ heads, whose necks are united together over their heads
(Fig. 37, A). I have examples of these showing a degeneration into a
simple scroll (Fig. 37, B). The same is taking place on a club (Fig.
38), where several phases of modification are illustrated, one result
of which is that the beaks break away from their respective heads; the
design in the left-hand lower corner is clearly an extreme stage, where
each beak is represented by two small marks. This can be compared with
the design in the right-hand lower corner of Fig. 39, where further
simplification has occurred. The mark in the centre of the design is
the relic of the four which occur in the last figure, and these are the
disrupted remains of the beaks of the two birds. The other spirals in
this figure are serial repetitions of the involved bird’s eye of the
lower design; the limitation of these within narrow bands causes their
elongation, and from these we are led to the concentric ovals. All the
concentric ovals met with in this district may not have been arrived at
in this manner, but those in Fig. 39 appear to have had this origin.

[Illustration: FIGS. 38 and 39.—Rubbings of the decorations of clubs in
the Dublin Museum; one-third natural size.]

To return again to Fig. 37, in A and B we have two phases of the
bird-bracket on spatulas; C and D are analogous designs in which the
birds’ beaks are also united; these are details from canoe carvings.

[Illustration: FIG. 40.—Rubbing of the central longitudinal band of
a club from the D’Entrecasteaux, in the Edinburgh Museum; one-third
natural size.]

[Illustration: FIG. 41.—Rubbing of part of the decoration of a club
from the D’Entrecasteaux, in the Edinburgh Museum; one-third natural

A simplified type of bird’s head and neck is seen in Fig. 40. Probably,
owing to the narrow space at his disposal, the artist omitted the
typical curvature of the beak. In the centre of the band a looped
arrangement is to be seen. It is very tempting to imagine that the
central band of Fig. 41 has had a similar origin. It is possible,
however, that it may be an aberrant modification of the serial bird’s
head design. I have no doubt that it is a bird derivative.

In this district, but principally, I believe, on the mainland and in
the neighbouring islands, we find carvings which represent a bird and
a crocodile; often this design forms the handles of paddles, spatulas,
and axes (Fig. 45, A). I have not at present direct proof that the
animal is a crocodile, but I have sufficient evidence to warrant the

With but very few exceptions the bird has a hooked beak; often it is
provided with a crest. Normally it has a body and wings, but never any
legs. Only the head with the eye, jaws, and tongue of the crocodile are
carved. The bird is undoubtedly based on the frigate-bird, but the
crest is a gratuitous addition; in a few instances it seems as if the
artist had a hornbill in his mind.

[Illustration: Fig. 42.—Bird and Crocodile designs, Massim Archipelago.

A. Canoe carving from Wari (Teste Island); about two-ninths natural

B. Handle of a paddle in the Cambridge Museum; one-half natural size.

C. Handle of a spatula in the Leiden Museum; three-sevenths natural

D. Handle of a spatula from Tubutubu (Engineer Group), in the Cambridge
Museum; three-sevenths natural size.

E. Handle of a paddle in the Cambridge Museum; three-sevenths natural

The body and wings of the bird are frequently omitted, then the neck
disappears; in some examples only the eye and hooked beak persist (Fig.
42, B, D), and in one or two examples known to me the eye alone remains
of the vanished bird.

The eye of the crocodile may develop into a grooved sigmoid curve,
or degenerate into a simple loop. One or both jaws may terminate in
a loop; the teeth are more often absent than present; in one spatula
they occur on the tongue only (Fig. 42, C). The tongue usually reaches
the bird, but it may be quite short; though generally straight, it may
be carved and may terminate in a small bird’s head; indeed, either
jaw may occasionally have a similar termination. For a selection of
characteristic modifications of this motive I would refer the reader
to Plate XII. of my _Memoir_, from which I have borrowed the examples
seen in Fig. 42. Of these A is a conventional but readily recognisable
representation of both the bird and the crocodile; B, C, D are
varieties which present no difficulty of interpretation, and E is a
slightly carved handle of a paddle in which the design is very greatly

The decorative art of the outlying Trobriands (Kiriwina) and Woodlark
(Murua) Groups appears to differ in many respects from that which is
characteristic of the other groups of this district; this is especially
noticeable in the lime-gourds, and on the oval-painted shields.

The north-east coast of British New Guinea is now being opened up by
the Administrator, Sir William MacGregor, but as yet no specimens of
its decorative art have found their way to British museums.


A general survey of the decorative art of British New Guinea clearly
reveals the fact that there are distinct æsthetic schools, if the
term may be permitted, in each of which there is a characteristic set
of motives and also of forms and technique. The boundaries of these
districts are not sharply defined, but, although our knowledge is still
imperfect, they can in most cases be traced with sufficient exactitude.
I expect that the Papuan Gulf district will be found to extend from
the Fly River to Cape Possession (long. 146° 25´ E.), and that the Fly
River district proper must be confined to what I have termed its Middle
Region, and perhaps the upper reaches of that river as well.

We may then take these five districts for granted. The question now
presents itself: What is the meaning of their distinctness? I do not
think we have at present sufficient evidence to enable us to do more
than make suggestions as to possible causes, and naturally ethnology is
first appealed to. Are these differences due to ethnic diversity?

Many of those who have written on the natives of British New Guinea
have not sufficiently distinguished between the numerous tribes in our
Possession, and they speak in vague terms of the Papuans as if they
were all alike. Now this is by no means the case, and before we can
gain an adequate comprehension of Papuan ethnography and ethnology we
must clearly distinguish between the characteristics of the various
tribes, their customs, languages, and handicrafts.

There is still much discussion concerning the limitation of the term
Papuan as applied to people, and even whether it should not be dropped
altogether, as Professor Sergi suggests. The Italian anthropologist
extends the term Melanesian not only to comprise the natives of all
the Western Oceanic islands, including New Guinea and the adjacent
islands, but also Australia. At present I adhere to what Mr. Ray and
myself[10] have considered to be the most convenient course, and to
employ the term Papuan for what appear to be the autocthones of New
Guinea. By Melanesians we understand the present inhabitants of the
great chain of islands off the east of New Guinea, and extending down
to New Caledonia. These terms are used to designate peoples, not races;
neither are pure races, and at present we are unable to gauge the
amount of race mixture in either, or even to state precisely what are
their components.

      [10] S. H. Ray and A. C. Haddon, “A Study of the Languages of
      Torres Straits,” _Proc. Roy. Irish Acad._, 1893, p. 509.

From the boundary of Netherlands New Guinea to Cape Possession on
the eastern coast of the Papuan Gulf, and inland from these coasts,
the natives are dark, frizzly-haired Papuans; typically they are a
dolichocephalic people, and rather short in stature.

The Papuans also occupy the greater part of the south-east peninsula of
New Guinea; but along the southern coast-line, almost uninterruptedly
from Cape Possession to the farthest island of the Louisiades, is an
immigrant Melanesian population, about whom I shall have more to say

I will now enumerate a few facts which will clearly bring out the
essential distinction between these two peoples.

We have not at present a sufficient amount of data on the physical
characters of the two peoples by skilled observers to enable us to
formulate what differences there may be between them. There is no doubt
that the Papuans are more uniformly dark than are the Melanesians (I
am now referring solely to the Melanesians in British New Guinea),
and their hair is as constantly frizzly. Among the Melanesians
light-coloured people are constantly met with, as are also individuals
with curly and occasionally straight hair. Their skulls exhibit many
variations, and are occasionally brachycephalic. Judging from my
experience of the Western Papuans, the Papuan men usually sit with
their legs crossed under them like a tailor, whereas the Melanesians
squat, like a Malay, usually with their haunches just off the ground.
I do not know whether this rule holds good for the Papuans of the
south-east peninsula.

The Western Papuans may or may not scarify their skin, as in Torres
Straits, but they do not tattoo; the Melanesians tattoo themselves,
especially the women. Tattooing has, however, spread to a certain
extent among the Papuan hill tribes of the peninsula; the Koitapu
women appear to have thoroughly followed the fashion of their Motu
neighbours; amongst the Koiari and other hill tribes it occurs only
occasionally. The =V=-shaped chest mark _gado_ (Fig. 20) occurs among
the Motu and Loyalupu, but not east of Keppel Bay. Among the two former
the tattooing lacks symmetry, but in Aroma curved lines become more
frequent and asymmetrical figures have a bilateral symmetry with regard
to the body.

The houses of the Gulf and Western Papuans are often of great size
and contain numerous families, and there appears to be more club-life
among the men. The houses of the Melanesians are smaller, each family
possessing one; those in the Trobriand Group are not built on piles.
Very characteristic of the Papuans are the houses which are confined to
the use of the men. These houses are the focus of the social life of
the men, and as religion among savages is largely social usage, it is
also in connection with these structures that most of their religious
observances are held.

The initiation of lads into manhood is accompanied with sacred
ceremonies in some of the Papuan tribes, but, so far as is known,
by none of the Melanesians in New Guinea. Masks are usually, perhaps
invariably, worn at these ceremonies, and the bull-roarer is swung
and shown to the lads. There is no record of a bull-roarer among the
Melanesian folk.

Masks are employed by many peoples during certain ceremonies; their
distribution in New Guinea is interesting, as it will be found that
in the British Possession they characterise the Papuan as opposed to
the Melanesian elements. They were common in Torres Straits, have been
obtained in Daudai, and are very abundant in the Papuan Gulf from
Maclatchie Point to Cape Possession.

Dancing may be a secular amusement or a ceremonial exercise; in both
aspects it is largely practised by the Papuans proper. We have very few
accounts of dances among the Melanesians, and these do not appear to be
of a specially interesting character.

Of their weapons the stone-club is alone common to all the tribes. The
use of the bow and arrow is confined to the Papuans, and is universally
employed to the west and in the Papuan Gulf. Heavy, sword-like, wooden
clubs and wooden spears are common among the Melanesians, and the sling
is employed in the D’Entrecasteaux Islands.

Only the Melanesians make pottery.

The Papuans earlier adopted tobacco, and grew their own tobacco before
the white man came, but they do not chew the betel to any great extent;
quite the reverse is the case with the Melanesians.

I have now enumerated a sufficient body of evidence to demonstrate that
two groups of people inhabit British New Guinea. We have now to see
whether a further analysis is possible.

Our knowledge of the Western Papuans is too imperfect for any definite
generalisations to be made at present, but I venture to present the
following tentative suggestions:—

The most typical Papuans in the British Protectorate are probably
the bush tribes from the Dutch boundary to the back of the Gulf of
Papua. They are gradually being pushed inwards by the coast people.
Macfarlane contrasts the high and broad skull of the latter with the
“long, narrow skull, with its low forehead and prominent zygomatic
bones,” of the former, whom he also states are “greatly inferior, both
mentally and physically.” The observations of d’Albertis of a racial
mixture in this region are supported by de Quatrefages and Hamy. The
Torres Straits islanders are also a mixed people. I do not think we
have sufficient evidence before us to decide what are the component
races of these Western Papuans. I suspect that the Fly River is to
a slight extent what may be termed a “culture route,” and that the
natives of the higher reaches have indirect communication with those of
the north coast of New Guinea; for example, the rattan armour collected
by d’Albertis high up the river is similar to that obtained by Finsch
from Angriffs Haven, near Humboldt Bay, and recalls the coir armour of
Micronesia; it is probable that this was the route by which tobacco
found its way to Torres Straits and the Gulf district, and thence to
the south-east.

The Papuans also extend down the south-east peninsula and into the
adjacent island groups. On the mainland they have been conquered in
certain places by Melanesian immigrants, and a mixture of these two
peoples has taken place to a variable extent. In the islands the
amalgamation has been more complete.

The immigrant people are by the majority of writers spoken of as
Polynesians. This identification is apparently based solely on the
lighter colour of some of the former than that of the Papuans proper,
and on numerous words common to them and the Polynesians.

The light colour of the skin and the occasional presence of curly or
even straight hair among some of the people of British New Guinea
certainly proves a racial mixture, although Comrie and Finsch do not
lay much stress on these points. The latter (_Samoafahrten_,
p. 234) writes:—“The natives of Bentley Bay, as at East Cape, are of
a tolerably light skin colour and belong to what the ignorant would
explain as a Malay mixture. But wrongly, for they are true Papuans,
amongst whom the individual occurrence of curly, even of smooth
hair, is of no consequence.” The craniology of the natives of the
south-eastern peninsula and neighbouring islands has been studied by
Comrie, Flower, Mikloucho-Maclay, de Quatrefages, Hamy, and Sergi, most
of whom admit with Flower “a considerable mixture of races among the
inhabitants of this region of the world.” As at present anthropography
cannot speak with precision concerning the racial elements in this
immigrant people, we must turn to other branches of anthropology, and
we will see what light ethnography and linguistics can throw on this
ethnological problem.

A comparison of Papuan and Melanesian customs and handicrafts will
prove that there is little of real importance in common, say, between
the Motu or the South Cape natives and the Samoans. I need only allude
to the almost total absence of a system of cosmogony or of a pantheon
with a definite mythology; associated with this lack of a theology is
the absence of an organised priestcraft. The democratic Papuans and
Melanesians have no hereditary chieftainship, and the power of tabu is
much more limited than in Polynesia. Strangely enough, these so-called
“Polynesians” in South-East New Guinea make pottery and do not drink
kava. There is also a well-marked distinction between the weapons,
implements, etc., and the decorative art of the New Guinea people and
those of the Polynesians.

For the linguistic evidence I have consulted my friend and colleague,
Mr. S. H. Ray, who is our great authority on the languages of Western
Oceania. In an essay in my _Memoir_[11] he discusses this question,
and as most is known about the Motu language of the neighbourhood
of Port Moresby, he takes this as a basis for comparison; what is
proved for this applies, in all probability, to the other Melanesian
languages of British New Guinea. “Much could be written to show that it
is with the Melanesian tongues that the Motu of New Guinea should be
included and not with the Polynesian. The same method applied to the
Kerepunu, the Aroma, Suau, and other dialects akin to the Motu, points
to the same relationship. The Motu grammar is entirely Melanesian
and non-Polynesian. Such words as are common to it and the Eastern
Polynesian are equally common to the whole of Melanesia. Melanesian
words which are non-Polynesian are also found in Motu and the allied
languages of New Guinea.”

      [11] _The Decorative Art of British New Guinea_, p. 263.

I had long been puzzled by certain differences between the Motu and
allied tribes on the coast of British New Guinea and the natives round
Milne Gulf and of the neighbouring groups of islands, all of whom I
speak of collectively as the Massim.

There is a difference in their physiognomy. The Motu and allied tribes
are remarkably destitute of a religion, and are (or were) at the mercy
of the sorcerers of the indigenous hill tribes, and, what is more
remarkable, there is no trace of the cult of the sacred frigate-bird
or of that of any other animal. They make their pottery by beating a
lump of clay into a pot, whereas, according to the only descriptions we
have, the Massim women build up their pots with bands of clay laid in
spirals. A study of my _Memoir_ on the decorative art of British New
Guinea will clearly bring out the enormous difference between the Motu
and the Massim in artistic feeling and execution.

My knowledge of Melanesia was too slight to enable me to proceed
further with this problem, but in a recently published paper Mr.
Ray says[12]:—“With regard to the place of origin of the Melanesian
population of New Guinea it does not seem possible to ascertain the
exact quarter from which it has come. There is at first sight much
dissimilarity between the languages west and east, between the Motu
and Kerepunu on the one side and the Suau of South Cape on the other.
Though this dissimilarity disappears on closer examination, it may be
stated that the language of Suau appears very similar to those of San
Cristoval in the Solomon Islands, which lies almost due east of South
Cape. The Motu and Kerepunu agree more with the languages of the Efate
district in the Central New Hebrides.”

      [12] S. H. Ray, “The Languages of British New Guinea,” _Jour.
      Anth. Inst._, xxiv., 1894, p. 32.

Further evidence must be collected before Mr. Ray’s suggestion can be
definitely accepted. The decorative employment of the frigate-bird in
the Massims and Solomon Islands supports his first proposition; but, on
the other hand, inlaying with shell and nacre is very characteristic
of the Solomon Islands, and this is absent from the Massims; there are
besides many other points of difference. So far as I am acquainted
with photographs of natives from the New Hebrides I do not see any
resemblance between them and the Motu, but it must be borne in mind
that there can be culture-drift without appreciable actual mixture,
though amongst savage peoples the latter must to a certain extent be

To return to the Papuan peoples of British New Guinea. It is probable
that these are also a mixed people, and not a race in the ethnological
sense of the term. Owing to continual inter-tribal warfare, or at
least mutual distrust, there has not been much intercourse between the
inhabitants of different districts; this may partly account for such
distinct styles of art as occur in Daudai and the Papuan Gulf. I have
already hinted that influences from North-Western New Guinea may have
penetrated down the Fly River, but a discussion of the latter question
opens up complicated problems of Malaysian ethnography into which I
cannot now enter.


The occurrence of scrolls and spirals in South-East New Guinea, and
their general resemblance to certain Maori patterns, have led several
observers to believe that there may have been intercourse between
New Guinea and New Zealand. As this problem raises some interesting
questions I have thought it desirable to discuss it, but to do so
adequately would take far more room than can here be spared.

Mr. Goodyear makes out a good case for the view that some, at least, of
the spiral scroll motives in Malaysia are due to Mohammedan influence;
but he probably goes too far in ascribing all the scrolls of the
decorative art of the Malay Archipelago to that source. “The ornamental
system of India was in the first instance, as known to us, Buddhist,
under Greek influences; second, Arab-Mohammedan. The spiral scroll
ornament of modern India is a mixture and survival of the two. (The
more formal classic style of old Buddhist ornament has disappeared in
India.) This is the ornamental system of the Malay Archipelago.... The
present ornamental system of Malaysia is mainly the Mohammedan-Arab,
which is derived from Byzantine Greek. The Malay alphabet, the
Malay ornament, the Malay religion, and the Malay culture are all
derived from India.... The spiral scroll is absolutely foreign to the
ornamental systems of Polynesia.

“There only remains the case of New Guinea and New Zealand. Not
only does New Guinea border directly on the Malay Islands, but it
is geographically part of Malaysia. [Mr. Goodyear is wrong in this
statement, as in its geology,[13] fauna, and flora New Guinea is
essentially Australian.] The princes of the Island of Tidore have
actually been the potentates of the Northern Coast of New Guinea. The
New Guinea ornamental system shows degraded and barbaric forms of the
Mohammedan spiral scrolls of Malaysia. From these once more are derived
the spiral scroll ornaments of New Zealand.”[14]

      [13] Haddon, Sollas, and Cole, “On the Geology of Torres
      Straits,” _Trans. Royal Irish Acad._, vol. xxx., 1894, p. 419.

      [14] _Architectural Record_, ii., 1893, p. 412.

The problem is by no means so simple as the reader might infer from
Mr. Goodyear’s remarks. It does not appear that he sufficiently allows
for ethnic influence in decorative art. My contention is that we must
first try to obtain a definite conception of the racial elements in a
given people before we can expect to thoroughly comprehend their art.
According to my experience, the more backward the people, the less
they borrow artistic motives. Why should they? Their ornament has to
them a significance and associations which foreign decoration lacks;
the latter appeals to them no more than does Mexican or Mangaian
ornament to us. From their mental attitude they are far less likely to
copy foreign designs than are we. I have already (p. 65) adduced an
interesting example of this when I compared the art of the Motu folk
with that of the Gulf Papuans.

Malaysia is peopled by various races, of which the Malay stock is
undoubtedly predominant, but the latter is regarded as having been,
comparatively speaking, a late wave of migration, and probably the
advent of the Malay was the disturbing cause which initiated the
wanderings of the Polynesians (or Sawaiori, as Mr. A. H. Keane terms

Even in Oceania the problem is complicated by the now generally
received fact of an earlier population of many of the islands by
Melanesians. Personally, I believe we can find distinct traces of
their artistic skill in the decorative art which we are accustomed
to put down as “Polynesian”; indeed, I suspect that most of the
Oceanic wood-carving is due to Melanesian influence, although it now
illustrates Sawaiori mythology.

I have not yet studied the decorative art of the Malay Archipelago; but
as my friend, Professor Hickson, has, I will quote what he has said on
the subject:—“From collections in museums it might be supposed that
the Malays are very artistic; this is perhaps due to the fact that
collectors frequently will only obtain implements and the like that are
ornamented with curious coloured designs and figures, and leave behind
all the spears, shields, and the like that are not so ornamented; the
result being that an unfair proportion of ornamented things appear in
the cabinets of the museum. I am inclined to believe that the Malays
are not artistic, and that the few ornamented designs of their own are
very poor and primitive.”[15] After alluding to the ruined temples
in Sumatra and Java, and the complicated patterns on the people’s
costumes, he continues, “but this is not Malay art. It is the art that
was brought by Buddhist priests in the third century, according to
Fa-hien, the Chinese pilgrim from Further India.

      [15] _The Academy_, 30th May 1891, No. 995, p. 519; also
      _Journal of the Cambridge Ant. Soc._, vii., p. 293.

“Nor should we judge of Malay art from the specimens obtained in Timor,
Aru, Timor Laut, and Ceram, for in these islands there is undoubtedly
a very great influence from the mixture of the race with the Papuans.
In Celebes, South Borneo, and the Moluccas, there is very little art;
and this is due, I believe, to the fact that there has been very little
Buddhist influence and very little Papuan influence.

“The chief character of Malay art, if it can be so called, is the
absence of any good curves. Nearly all their designs are angular, and
those that they have copied from other races have a tendency to become
angular.” The implements, weapons, cloths, etc., “of the people are
frequently, if not usually, unornamented, in striking contrast to
similar things among the Papuans. Nothing could be more impressive than
the contrast in this respect between a Malay and a Papuan village.”

There can be no doubt that the decorative art of North-West New Guinea
has been affected by influences from Malaysia; but it is very doubtful
whether this has penetrated very far inland, or even very far down the

It must be remembered that the Papuans, and Melanesians generally,
are a fierce people, and there is, as a rule, very little intercourse
indeed between various tribes, in fact there is an almost continual
condition of inter-tribal war. In a country containing great mountain
ranges, dense jungles, or extensive swamps, with no roads, and
innumerable tribes speaking different languages, and at enmity with
one another, it is difficult to see how artistic motives could readily
travel. There are only two possible routes, rivers and the coast-line.

I have elsewhere[16] stated that the Fly River “has been to a certain
extent what may be termed a ‘culture route,’ and that the natives of
the higher reaches have indirect communication with those of the north
coast of New Guinea.”

      [16] _The Decorative Art of British New Guinea_, 1894, p. 256.

If any one will take the trouble to study the evidence I have
collected, it will, I think, be incontestable that the scroll designs
of the extreme south-east point of New Guinea and of the adjacent
islands could not have come overland. With the possible exception of
the central region of the Fly River, about which we at present know
very little, I can see no traces of “Malayan” culture in the decorative
art of British New Guinea.

The evidence at our disposal certainly points to the conclusion
that the bulk, at all events, of the natives of the Louisiades,
D’Entrecasteaux, and neighbouring islands and mainland are sea-borne
immigrants. And if their scroll designs have not been developed in the
district where they now reside, we must seek for their origin in the
ancestral home of these travellers. I have discussed this question in
my _Memoir_ (pp. 258-269), and have stated it in a more concise form in
_Science Progress_, vol. ii. (1894), pp. 91-95, and have come to the
conclusion, which is shared by Mr. S. H. Ray, on linguistic grounds,
that no Malay influence can be shown, but that the people came from the
great chain of Melanesian islands which stretches from the Admiralty
Islands to New Caledonia, and possibly from the Solomon group. Nowhere
in the Melanesian Archipelago do we find scroll designs comparable
with those of the district of New Guinea now under consideration.
The conclusion, then, seems inevitable, that until further evidence
is adduced we must regard these scroll designs as having originated
in this district, and in the manner I have demonstrated—_i.e._, from
birds’ heads.

To pass on to New Zealand. Although we have innumerable specimens of
the beautiful and very characteristic wood-carving of New Zealand
in our museums and in private collections, yet no one has seriously
studied the art, or has offered a satisfactory explanation of it.

It is generally admitted that there was a Melanesian population on
the group before the Maoris arrived some six hundred years ago. The
latter probably came from some of the islands between Samoa and Tahiti,
probably mainly from Rarotonga.

The scroll designs have no resemblance to the patterns from the
Rarotongan region of Oceania. The only examples of this particular
technique occur in one or two weapons from Fiji; these are of typical
Fijian shapes, but the carving is in the New Zealand manner. One of
these is in Baron von Hügel’s collection in Cambridge, and another is
in the British Museum. I have no explanation to offer for these facts
that is satisfactory to myself. Apart from one or two isolated Fijian
specimens, the wood-carving of New Zealand is unique.

[Illustration: FIG. 43.—Rubbing of the decoration of a Maori flute, in
the Natural History Museum, Belfast; one-half natural size.]

Some of the New Zealand patterns (Fig. 43, and Plate VI., Fig. 12)
certainly have a superficial resemblance to the more typical scroll
patterns from the South-Eastern Archipelago of New Guinea, but there is
no ground for comparing them except for this casual resemblance. The
bird element is entirely lacking, and there is far less interlocking
in the Maori than in the Papuan scrolls; there are also noticeable
technical differences. My impression is that the carved designs have
been derived mainly from tattooing, and possibly also partly from the
dismemberment which so often befalls the conventionalised carvings
of their ancestral figures. (Plate VI., Fig. 11.) When one looks at
tattooed Maori heads or carvings of human figures one finds that
rounded surfaces, such as the wings of the nose, the cheeks, the
shoulders and thighs are usually decorated with spiral designs; this is
in such places an appropriate device, as it accentuates the features
which are ornamented, and personally I am inclined to believe that
artistic fitness is the explanation of this employment of the spiral,
and that it has been transferred to other objects as being a pleasing
design, and that connecting lines have been made to give coherence
to the decoration. It is worth noting that in early European art the
shoulders and haunches of animals are often decorated with spirals.[17]

      [17] See, for example, Plate VII., Figs. 2, 5.


Having sketched the main features of the decorative art of a definite
locality, I now pass on to a different field, and will select examples
from every age and clime, in order to illustrate the life-histories of
a number of designs. In this I have a twofold object. First, I wish to
indicate in this section the material out of which designs and patterns
are formed—the objective originals which become gradually transformed
into æsthetic conceptions; and, secondly, I also wish to illustrate the
fact that this process of transformation is confined to no one people.

We shall see that the originals of decorative art are mainly either
natural or artificial objects, and the latter will first claim our


Dr. H. Colley March has introduced the term “Skeuomorph”[18] for
the forms of ornament demonstrably due to structure. Professor G.
Semper[19] “was the first to show that the basket-maker, the weaver,
and the potter originated those combinations of line and colour which
the ornamentist turned to his own use when he had to decorate walls,
cornices, and ceilings.” So write MM. Perrot and Chipiez;[20] but this
statement is too sweeping. A considerable amount of ornamentation is
doubtless due to technique, but in Europe, Western Asia, and North
Africa plant forms have had a great influence in the origin of designs,
some of which have been modified by passing through a textile technique.

      [18] From τὰ σκεύε, implements, utensils, tools, baggage,
      tackle, dresses.

      [19] G. Semper, _Der Stil in den technischen und tektonischen
      Künsten oder praktische Aesthetik_. Munich, 1860-63, 2 vols.
      (Second Edition, 1878-79.)

      [20] G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, _A History of Art in Ancient
      Egypt_, ii. p. 356, 1883.

Given any object, two forces, so to speak, attack it—the utilitarian
and the æsthetic. The resultant may be an implement which is solely
useful and has little or no beauty to recommend it; or while retaining
a full measure of utility, it may be beautified in form or in surface
decoration; or, lastly, the object may become so glorified by the
artist as to be translated from earthly use into the realm of æsthetics.

1. _Transformation of a Solitary Object._

There are numerous examples of the annihilation of the useful by the
beautiful. One instance came under my notice at the Murray Islands,
in Torres Straits. Formerly when a girl was engaged to be married,
in addition to numerous petticoats she wore a number of ornaments
suspended from her neck and hanging down her back. The more important
of these were white triangular pieces of shell, _o_, cut out of _Conus
millepunctatus_; turtle-shell (“tortoise-shell”) bodkins (_ter_), used
for shredding the leaves of which their petticoats were made, and for
piercing the septum of the nose of infants; turtle-shell fish-hooks,
and curious turtle-shell ornaments which are called _sabagorar_. These
latter vary considerably in size, form, and amount of decoration;
but by placing a number of them together a sequence can be obtained
which illustrates the evolution of the _sabagorar_ from the fish-hook
(Fig. 44). Some hook-like objects are slightly ornamented with incised
lines, and they might very well serve as fish-hooks; others are
clearly totally unfitted for practical use, and may be quite plain or
decorated. Fish-hooks (Fig. 44, A) are used in pairs, being fastened
at each end of a piece of fine string, which, in its turn, is tied at
its middle to the fishing-line proper. When the piece of twine with its
hooks was thrown round a girl’s neck, the two hooks would often hang
down her back shank to shank. Two _sabagorar_ similarly arranged occur
in the British Museum collections. What more natural than that this
should be noticed, and to save the trouble of making two _sabagorar_
a double one should be cut out of one piece of turtle-shell. The more
remotely from the fish-hook did the _sabagorar_ vary, the larger it
became, and in some instances the double form became of considerable
size, and the hook portion acquired a slight spiral curvature (Fig.
44, K). In one modified specimen the hooks are actually fused with
the shank (Fig. 44, L). It will be also seen that divergent =Λ=-like
processes often occur on the _sabagorar_, but are never found on the

[Illustration: FIG. 44.—Turtle-shell ornaments worn in Torres Straits.
The ratio of size of the illustrations to the originals is as 4:15. A.
Ordinary fish-hook, made of turtle-shell. B-L. Series of ornaments,
probably derived from fish-hooks, made of turtle shell. All in the
British Museum, from a photograph by Mr. H. Oldland, of the British

The betrothal equipment of a girl thus consisted in the main of
objects of utility which had reference to her future condition. The
turtle-shell objects being easily cut, afforded a convenient field
for ornamentation, and most of the _ter_ implements exhibit a little
decoration. The comparatively slender fish-hooks provided insufficient
surface for ornamentation; the broadening of them for decorative
purposes reduced their efficiency, so that in time the latter was
sacrificed and a mere ornament resulted.

In the chain of islands which stretch away from the south-eastern end
of New Guinea, one finds an interesting metamorphosis of the stone
axe. The stone axe was very precious among these people, to whom the
art of working in metals is still unknown. A large fine axe would have
very considerable value, and the exhibition of it would be a symbol
of wealth, and consequently of power. The desire to be recognised as
wealthy has resulted in the development of a stone axe of which the
stone is very large, often remarkably thin and beautifully polished,
and is hafted to an unwieldy handle which may be carved and decorated
with shell-money and other ornaments. The value of such an object seems
to depend upon the amount of work required to produce it; its inutility
enhances the reputation of the wealth of its possessor; thus we appear
to arrive at certain primitive conceptions. Work done gives ownership
or property. One form of wealth is the possession of unnecessary or
useless property; the exhibition of this gives power to the owner.

[Illustration: FIG. 45.—Sketches of two axes from the South-east
Peninsula of New Guinea in the possession of the author; about
one-tenth natural size.]

I have made sketches (Fig. 45) of two axes in my possession. The first
(A) is decorated with characteristic ornamentation, consisting in the
upper part of birds’ heads and at the handle of the bird and crocodile
design; but it is still a useful implement. The second axe (B) has a
large thin stone, and is an unwieldy and probably quite useless object.

The late Mr. H. H. Romilly[21] tells us that at Utian (Brooker Island),
in the Louisiades, “The stone implements made here are very fine. I
got some axes of enormous size, which I am sure could not be intended
for use. They seemed rather to be a common possession; perhaps two or
three belonged to the village, and were exhibited on state occasions.”
The Rev. Dr. W. Wyatt Gill,[22] at South Cape, saw “two axes solemnly
carried by the chiefs as a preliminary to peace ... a glance at the
slight artistic hafting will convince any one that they are not
intended for cleaving timber.” This is all the information we have
concerning these axes. It appears that they have come to be recognised
as symbols of authority, but it is extremely doubtful whether they are
anywhere held as a common possession.

      [21] _The Western Pacific and New Guinea_, 1886, p. 138.

      [22] Chalmers and Gill, _Work and Adventure in New Guinea_,
      1885, p. 334.

A still more wonderful change has affected certain adzes in the Hervey
Islands. (Fig. 46.) The stone blade is a carefully cut and polished
piece of basalt, and it has every appearance of being perfectly
serviceable; but the elaborately carved handles preclude the idea that
in their present state they could be used for practical purposes. In
form the handles may be quadrangular, gradually diminishing from the
base to the blade, or conical, or polygonal or cylindrical. When short
the handles are thick, even to the extent that they can scarcely be
grasped by the two hands; these forms too are often perforated by
quadrangular holes. One specimen in the Archæological and Ethnological
Museum at Cambridge is six feet three inches in length.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.—Mangaian symbolic adze in the Copenhagen
Museum; from Dr. C. March.]

Later on (p. 83) I shall describe the ornamentation on these adzes; at
present we are merely concerned with the fact that for some reason or
another they have become functionless through increase in the size of
the handle, and by reason of the weakness caused by deep carving. We
have now to trace the meaning of this vagary.

Dr. W. Wyatt Gill, who resided for twenty-two years in the Hervey
Islands, and who has been a very careful observer and recorder of
Polynesian customs and beliefs, informs us that “The adzes of the
Hervey Islanders are frequently hafted with carved ‘pua’ wood. The
carving, which is often admirable, was formerly executed with sharks’
teeth, and was primarily intended for the adorning of their gods.
The fine-pointed pattern is known as ‘the sharks’ teeth pattern’
(‘nio mango’). Other figures are each supposed, by a stretch of the
imagination, to represent a man squatting down (‘tikitiki tangata’).
Some patterns are of recent introduction, and being mere imitations of
European designs, are destitute of the significations which invariably
are attached to ancient Polynesian carving. The large square holes are
known as ‘eel-borings’ (‘ai tuna’); the lateral openings are naturally
enough called ‘clefts’ (‘kavava’). To carve was the employment of
sacred men.” Dr. Hjalmar Stolpe, of Stockholm, who has made a special
study[23] of the ornamental art of these people, found in the museum
in Chambéry an adze of this kind; according to the account on the
label the stone had belonged to a chief, and it was after the owner’s
death shafted in this manner that it might be preserved by his family
as a remembrance. Dr. Stolpe continues, “The internal probability
of the story confirms the truth of the account. Ancestor worship is
a characteristic feature of Polynesian religion. The souls of the
departed become the guardian spirits of the survivors. Their worship
demanded a visible form, under which offerings could be enjoyed by
them, and this was found sometimes in the skull itself of the deceased,
which was preserved in the house, sometimes in some article of his
property. In the latter case scarcely anything could be more suitable
than the stone adze, which was the deceased’s most important implement,
and which it required so much toil to make. On the Hervey Islands the
transition was easier, as there the stone adze itself is considered as
a god. Even the fine plait of coco-nut fibre with which the adze is
fastened to the shaft was a god, and the method of binding it had, in
Mangaia, been taught by the gods. Both during the operation of plaiting
and during the decoration of the adze-shaft songs were sung in a low
voice to the gods, that they might further the work. The ‘pua’ wood
(_Fagræa Berteriana_) of which the carved adze-shafts are made may also
have a religious significance, for Gill speaks of ‘its long branches
being regarded as the road by which the spirits of the dead descended
to Hades.’”

      [23] H. Stolpe, “Utvecklingsföreteelser i Naturfolkens
      Ornamentik” (_Ymer_ 1890), translated by Mrs. H. C. March,
      “Evolution in the Ornamental Art of Savage Peoples,” _Trans.
      Rochdale Lit. and Sci. Soc._, 1891.

The following conclusions of Dr. Stolpe’s appear to be warranted:—“From
these researches it appears to me to follow that the peculiarly shafted
stone adzes of the Hervey Islands have a religious signification, that
they are especially connected with ancestor worship, and that they were
probably the very symbols under which this worship was performed.”

[Illustration: FIG. 47.—An erect drum (_Kaara_), surmounted by the head
of a god from Java, in the Copenhagen Museum; from Dr. C. March.]

Dr. H. Colley March[24] has gone a step further, and tries to account
for the very remarkable form of the handle of the sacred adze. He says,
“It is remarkable that the typical Mangaian axe [adze] was exclusively
associated with ‘Tane, the royal-visaged.’ This god was widely
venerated over the Pacific; in Mangaia he was especially the drum-god
and the axe-god; he presided over the erotic dance as well as over the
war dance ... it is evident that the drum was not only associated with
a Tane cult in the erotic dance, but was regarded as Tane’s embodiment;
when the drum was beaten, it was Tane that was struck, and from the
fissure in the drum it was Tane’s voice that issued.” Dr. March
quotes a number of extracts from early voyagers, etc., descriptive
of various Polynesian drums, and he comes to the conclusion that the
upright drums, which were hollowed out of a single piece of wood,
were originally derived from bamboo instruments. He figures a drum
(Fig. 47) said to have come from Java, which, with the exception of
the terminal head, corresponds closely with the drum called _naffa_
which Captain Cook describes at Tonga. He concludes that after the drum
“had passed from bamboo to wood, the horizontal instrument assumed
the erect form, more appropriate to the god, and was then surmounted,
as in the so-called Javan example, by Tane’s head, which subsequently
gave place to Tane’s adze. As the cult differentiated, the symbolism
differentiated too.” Without going into further detail, in the short
thick form of the Mangaian adze, such as Fig. 46, the upper portion
of the handle is usually cylindrical. The lower portion is usually
quadrangular, or may be polygonal, and looks as if it might be a
pedestal for the former. According to Dr. March’s interpretation, the
stone implement represents the head of Tane; the upper cylindrical part
of the handle is his neck. The lower part of the handle is an artistic
analogue of the sacred drum; “the useless transverse closings represent
the original bamboo joints, as well as the solid ends of the wooden
drum. In spite of the fact that their presence increased the difficulty
of hollowing out the shaft, they were reproduced in obedience to a
well-recognised law. The square and oblong rectangular openings have an
analogous explanation. They indicate the original aperture, whether the
slit in the bamboo, or the single or double chink in the wooden drum
which was excavated through the drum in order to secure its resonance.
The great increase in the number of apertures, helped by rectangular
designs on horizontal instruments, took place as an evolution of
ornament that largely consists in a multiplication of functionless

      [24] “Polynesian Ornament a Mythography; or a Symbolism of
      Origin and Descent,” _Journ. Anth. Inst._, xxii., 1893, p. 307.

It is possible that the adzes from the Hervey Islands, with long,
unperforated carved handles, may have a different history from the form
illustrated in Fig. 46; they may merely be decorated but useless adze
handles. In any case, the above-quoted conclusions of Dr. Stolpe may be

In the three examples of the metamorphosis of a practical object into
an unpractical one just recorded, we have an illustration of the
effects of three dominant human forces on these several implements,
art, display or wealth, and religion. The result is practically the
same in all cases, but the motive leading to it is different. Analogous
modifications are everywhere to be met with.

2. _Transference of Fastenings._

One of the earliest handicrafts was to fasten two things together.
To quote from Dr. H. Colley March,[25] “As soon as man began to make
things, to fasten a handle to a stone implement, to construct a wattled
roof, to weave a mat, skeuomorphs became an inseparable part of his
brain, and ultimately occasioned a mental craving or expectancy.”

      [25] H. Colley March, “The Meaning of Ornament, or its
      Archæology and its Psychology,” _Trans. Lanc. and Cheshire Ant.
      Soc._, 1889.

In order to securely fasten two objects together, such as splicing wood
or fastening a handle to a stone implement, a lashing is necessary,
and the nature of the latter varies more or less according to the
conditions under which the artificers live. Where mammals are abundant,
their sinews afford a readily procured and very strong, fine lashing,
but it occurs only in short lengths. The hide of a newly-killed animal
is pliant, strong, and can be so cut as to produce long thongs. Owing
to the rarity of mammals in New Guinea, and their absence from the
Great Ocean, the Papuans, Melanesians, and Polynesians make no use of
skins or thongs; sinews may be employed, but the great bulk of all
fastening is accomplished by the employment of vegetable fibres. The
inner bark of various trees supplies bast and tapa, several vegetables
have long fibres which are utilised, but the most widespread and
important of all lashings in Oceania is the twisted or plaited string
made from the fibres of the husk coco-nut. The latter is known as
sinnet, and there are many degrees of excellence in its manufacture;
for rough work it is coarsely plaited, but nothing can exceed the
delicacy and beauty of the finest sinnet work, such, for example, as
occurs on the symbolic adzes of the Hervey Islands, where it was even
regarded as a god.

Most of the stone implements of primitive man were fastened in various
ways into handles, and an inspection of almost any ethnological
collection will demonstrate the diverse methods of lashing employed by
even the most backward peoples. For example, we have in Plate I., Fig.
1, an illustration of the fastening of the stone axe of Montezuma II.,
now in the Ambras Museum at Vienna,[26] but analogous figures will be
found in numerous books of travel, or in ethnographical journals and

      [26] Copied from J. Evans, _Bronze Implements_, p. 148.

The even serving of the lashing gives rise to geometrical figures.
One might in some cases describe them as patterns, whose symmetrical
disposition gives a pleasing effect.

In process of time the stone spear points of our ancestors were
replaced by bronze, and during the evolution of the palstave, or
socketed bronze celt (Plate I., Figs. 4, 10, 11), from the flat
bronze celt, the method of fastening also changed. But by this time
the old style of binding had become so associated in men’s mind with
the implement, that it was engraved on the socket of the bronze head
as a pattern. Hence most of the ornamentation of bronze implements.
(Plate I., Figs. 2-4.) On socketed bronze celts one frequently
finds (Plate I., Figs. 10, 11) two, three, or more ridges running
from the base to some distance towards the end; three is the most
common number of these ridges. They may fade away at their ends, or
terminate in slight knobs or annular prominences. The meaning of these
characteristic markings is at present obscure, but they appear to be
skeuomorphs of lashing.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.—Rubbing of part of the decoration of a Tongan
club in the Norwich Museum; one-third natural size.]

What are known as “beads” have frequently the same origin; that is,
they are reminiscences of fastenings. This is especially evident when
the bead is decorated with a twisted design, as occurs in the zonal
decoration of a bronze vessel from a Swiss lake-dwelling. (Plate I.,
Fig. 5.) There is no reason to believe that lashing was actually
employed on older forms of Assyrian combs, or prehistoric bone needles
or bronze knives, nevertheless the patterns shown in Plate I., Figs.
6, 8, and 9, have doubtless been derived from ligatures; more from the
fact that such patterns were familiar, and a feeling for a need of
decoration, than for any special appropriateness.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.—Rubbing of part of the decoration of a Tongan
club in the Norwich Museum; one-half natural size.]

One frequently finds designs in the ornamentation of objects from
Oceania which are evidently based upon sinnet lashings. To take a
few out of many examples now before me, in Fig. 48 we have a reduced
rubbing of a carved cylindrical club, said to come from the Friendly
Islands (Tonga); the same kind of club also occurs in Fiji. The
decoration of this club irresistibly suggests bands of plaited sinnet
irregularly bound round the club.

In these two groups of islands sinnet is often worked into a design
that is also copied on the upper part of a carved wooden club.
(Fig. 49.) The same kind of lashing is seen in Plate I., Fig. 1.
Occasionally, instead of being angular, this pattern is carved in
curved lines, and so gives rise to an imbricate pattern, which might be
mistaken for a scale pattern.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.—Rubbing of part of the decoration of a Tongan
club in the Norwich Museum; one-half natural size.]

Other sinnet patterns perhaps occur in the lower part of the decoration
of a Tongan club. (Fig. 50.) The design on the upper left-hand corner
is evidently copied from matting, and it frequently occurs on these
clubs. This figure also illustrates the Tongan peculiarity of inserting
little figures into designs, in this case a man and probably a

I do not wish to suggest that all zigzags included within parallel
lines, as in Fig. 48, or such simple designs as those of Fig. 50, are
everywhere sinnet derivatives, or otherwise skeuomorphic; some, at
least, in the Pacific certainly are. We have seen that birds’ head
designs may degenerate into zigzags (Figs. 30, 36), and we shall see
that frogs’ legs (Fig. 122, B), snakes (Fig. 103, G, H, K), alligators
(Fig. 97, E, F), and even the human form (Fig. 125, A) may pass into
zigzags. There are many other possible origins of the zigzag, but in
many cases it is probably only a purely decorative motive of no further
significance. The simple zigzag can be traced in ancient Egyptian art
as far back as 4000 B.C., and, according to Professor Flinders Petrie,
it continued popular with a few modifications for about 2000 years,
when spots were associated with it, but these were adopted from foreign
art. About the eighteenth dynasty the use of the zigzag was discarded
in favour of the wavy line and various scroll designs. In all cases it
is necessary to study each pattern locally.

3. _Skeuomorphs of Textiles._

In Europe a very early form of fabric was wattle-work, formed by
the interlacing of flexible boughs and wands. The most ancient huts
were doubtless made of wattle-work daubed over with clay. Only very
exceptionally are traces of these structures found, as, for example
at Ebersberg, where Dr. Keller[27] found, among the _débris_ of a
lake-village which had been destroyed by fire, fragments of the clay
daubing, “smooth on one side, and marked on the other, with deep
depressions of the basket-work.” The pattern thus impressed on the
clay is one of repeated straight lines crossed by a contrasted series
of curved ones. (Plate II., Fig. 1.) Thus the fire which consumed the
house baked its clayey coating, and in this way preserved for us a
record of what it destroyed.

      [27] F. Keller, _The Lake Dwellings of Switzerland and other
      parts of Europe_. Second edition, 1878, p. 565.

I do not know whether the wattle-work has been perpetuated on
any object as a skeuomorph, but it is possible that the shape of
similarly constructed huts has been continued, as Mr. Charles de Kay
suggests,[28] into the round towers of Ireland. He says, “Seeing how
the Irish kept heathen ideas in other things, we can perceive how
the round wicker house of the Kelt, such as we see it carved on the
column of Antoninus at Rome, developed into the wood and wicker outlook
tower and beacon, and in skilful hands became the Irish round tower.
Christian in usage, they are pagan in design.”

      [28] “Pagan Ireland,” _The Century Magazine_, xxxvii., 1889,
      p. 368.

The predatory expeditions of the Scandinavians created a demand for
watch-towers and places of temporary refuge; the pattern for these
was supplied by the traditional erections of the Gauls, but their
translation into “towers more durable, useful, simple yet stately, than
anything Ireland had seen before or has seen since,” was due to the
skill and experience of “Byzantine craftsmen driven from the East by
the bigotry of the image-breaking emperors.”

Mr. de Kay also calls attention to the encircling stone bands, or
“string-courses,” as in the round tower at Ardmore, “which repeat,
without any useful object in stone, the horizontal bands that
strengthened the tall wicker house of the Gauls. Such apparently
trivial points weigh heavily in favour of the indigenous character of
the round tower of Ireland.”

The interlacing of flexible bands, such as strips of bast, entire
leaves as of grass, or shreds of large leaves, is known to almost every
people, and is employed in making mats. When the elements employed are
all of one size, and when the plaiting is straight, the intersections
form regular equilateral rectangles or squares. (Plate II., Fig. 3, and
compare the transferred design in Fig. 50.) If the material consists of
two colours simple patterns are readily produced, but of necessity the
patterns must consist of straight, slanting, or zigzag lines; curves
are an impossibility. The same holds good for nearly all forms of
matting and basketry which is made of strips of one material, but the
constructional surface marking may be rectangles of various shapes and
sizes instead of simple squares. (Plate II., Fig. 4.) When one series
of the components is twisted, as in Plate II., Fig. 5, there is a kind
of flow effect in the intersections.

The making of baskets by laying down the material in a spiral gives
rise to different effects, especially when coloured strips are
interwoven for decorative purposes—as, for example, in some African
baskets and the baskets made by the natives of South Australia, in the
neighbourhood of Adelaide. Dr. Keller found in the Lake of Robenhausen
a kind of basketry formed by bast, the fibre of the lime-tree,
intertwisted among a series of willow rods, the strips “running
concentrically in such a way that both together form a structure like
that called ‘herring-bone.’”[29] (Plate II., Fig. 2.) It is possible
that the pattern in the middle band of Fig. 49, and some of those in
Fig. 50, may have been suggested by basketry or plaited fans.

      [29] F. Keller, _The Lake Dwellings_, etc, p. 565.

An early type of basket is seen in the Roman corbula (Plate II., Fig.
6), in which the osier rods are placed rectangularly; another, in
an ivory plaque from Boulak (Plate II., Fig. 7), in which there is
a chevron arrangement. The latter is the more common skeuomorph on
European prehistoric pottery, but the rectangular type often occurs,
and it may be seen on a Danish food-vessel of the Stone Age. (Plate
II., Fig. 8.)

The bottom of a basket, with a cruciform arrangement of the bands, due
to the method of weaving, was discovered by Dr. Keller in the Terramara
marl-pits of Northern Italy (Plate II., Fig. 9); and a piece of pottery
from the same deposit is ornamented with a corresponding skeuomorph
(Plate II., Fig. 10).

Dr. Colley March has further developed this subject, and, while I
cannot commit myself to several of his conclusions, I do not hesitate
to give an exposition of his ingenious views, as they are very
suggestive, and even if they are not finally accepted, they will lead
to a further examination of the problems:—

“The perpetual concentration of attention, the strain of hand and
eye and brain upon the forms of wattle-work and basketry produced
an important decorative result. The mind acquired an expectancy of
a special mode of curved repetitions. This particular skeuomorph is
composed of a band that winds in and out among a row of rods or discs.”
(Plate III., Fig. A.)

The “discs” are naturally the cross sections of the vertical elements
of the wattle-work—that is the “rods.” “The device underwent a change
in opposite directions. The discs grew, or they vanished. In the latter
case the band left by itself is the meander, and may be called a
curvilinear zigzag. In the former case the discs often became the seat
of phyllomorphic invasion, and were transformed into leaves or flowers.

“Examples may be seen on the margin of a bronze shield from Cyprus
(Plate III., Fig. 2); on a vessel of terra-cotta from the third
sepulchre of Mycenæ (Plate III., Fig. 8); and on an enamelled Roman
vase found on Bartlow Hill (Plate III., Fig. 5); whilst a twin-form,
which presents both contrast and repetition, occurs on another bronze
shield from the Mediterranean (Plate III., Fig. 1) and is the basis
of the Assyrian ornament and its Greek variant called the guilloche.
(Plate III., Figs. 4, 3.)

“A different skeuomorph is derived from a different method of basketry,
in which a single fibre is turned round a row of osier-sticks, so as to
produce a wave repetition (Plate III., Fig. B), as may be seen on the
pottery of the ancient Pueblos (Plate III., Fig. 6). When these discs
disappear, the fibre by itself resembles the Vitruvian scroll, and may
be called a curvilinear fret. (Plate III., Fig. B.)

“Whenever the pattern has a stepped form, as on many of the Pueblo
vases (Plate III., Fig. 7), it indicates that the methods of textile
manufacture had already influenced the eye and mind of the race before
the invention or introduction of pottery.”

The scroll-patterns illustrated by Dr. March may at one time and place
have had the origin supposed by Dr. March, but it does not appear to
me to be probable that they would have arisen in this way both in
South Europe and in Mexico. I have shown (p. 51, Fig. 27) how a simple
guilloche has arisen from interlocking birds’ heads. The Vitruvian
scroll design occurs among the Tugeri head-hunters of New Guinea,
and it is most improbable that it owes its origin to basketry. It is
probable that the Pueblo pottery with curvilinear patterns, such as
Plate III., Fig. 6, is more recent than that with angular designs; but
I shall return to this later on. In fact, I would feel inclined to
state that Dr. March’s view is possible for the origin of the patterns
in question, once and in a restricted locality, but highly improbable
for wide application.

There is a great tendency for spirals to degenerate into concentric
circles; examples could be given from New Guinea, America, Europe,
and elsewhere. In fact, one usually finds the two figures associated
together, and the sequence is one of decadence, never the evolution of
spirals from circles. The intermediate stage has been aptly termed a
“bastard spiral” by Dr. Montelius, “that is to say, concentric circles
to which the recurved junction-lines give, to a casual glance, the
appearance of true spirals.”[30]

      [30] O. Montelius, “Sur les Poignées des Epées et des Poignards
      en Bronze,” _Congr. prehist. Stockholm_, 1874, ii. p. 891.

“The strangest skeuomorph of all,” writes Dr. March, “was that common
to the early inhabitants of Northern Europe. They were adepts in
basketry, and in wattle-work for walls and ramparts. Moreover, the
pliant bark of the birch was ever ready to the hand for a thousand
purposes of life. The Norwegian still makes hinges for gates and loops
for the oar out of the entwisted fibre. The old Norseman spoke of the
rudder withy, for the earliest rudder was an oar; and leather thongs
were also used to keep the oar against the thole-pin. The skeuomorph
consists of a withy wound upon itself. (Plate VII., Fig. 11.) This
device, wrongly called a rope-pattern, gained such an ascendency over
the northern mind that it was employed sometimes as a symbol (Plate
VII., Fig. 12), like the reefing knot on Roman altars. (Plate VII.,
Fig. 13.) It was used also by the ancient Hittites. (Plate IV., Fig. 1.)

“It is evident that the withy skeuomorph (Plate IV., Figs. 2, 3), the
Scandinavian worm-knot, established itself as a necessity of the mind
before those men who were dominated by it had discarded a covering of
skins for one of cloth; for its type is antagonistic to the regular
intersections and the stepped designs of textile fabrics, and no trace
of these appears on their early pottery.

“When weaving was at last introduced, so as to be practised by these
people, it was probably along with the introduction of metals. But for
a while the use of metal only increased the number of twisted things.
The words, wire, wicker, and withy are all from the root WI, _to
plait_, and the Teutonic WIRA means filigree, an ornament of twisted
filaments of metal; and as the simplest manner of terminating a wire is
to coil its end, the earliest filigree is preponderantly spiral. (Plate
IV., Figs. 5, 6, 7.) Thus was the way prepared,” concludes Dr. March,
“for the advent of the serpent zoomorph, so much affected by Teutons
and Scandinavians.”

In early times wooden bands were interwoven to form flat surfaces,
as, for example, in the floor of a lake-dwelling at Niederwyl,
in Switzerland (Plate IV., Fig. 8), but few traces of the art of
“fascining,” as Dr. March points out, remain to us from antiquity,
since wood-work rapidly perishes by decay, and is easily destroyed by
fire. This art produces a bold decorative effect which appears to have
been perpetuated in various ways. Amongst others may be mentioned the
interior decoration of an earthen vessel from Ueberlingen See (Plate
IV., Fig. 9), a crescent of red sandstone from Ebersberg (Plate IV.,
Fig. 10), and an incised stone from Hadrian’s Wall, in Northumberland.
(Plate IV., Fig. 11.)

So far we have only considered the type of ornamentation which occurs
on plaited or woven objects, and these are seen to be conditioned by
that particular technique. We have now to see what occurs when a new
material is substituted for the old.

There are many varieties of tapa in the Pacific, some of which are
coarse and others of extreme fineness and softness. The process of
making and decorating tapa has often been described; sometimes the
tapa is ribbed, having been beaten with more or less finely corrugated
wooden mallets, occasionally it is marked with squares which give it
an appearance of having been stamped by a simply plaited mat, but many
pieces are quite smooth. There is nothing in the texture or manufacture
of tapa to prevent its being ornamented with intricate and involved
patterns. As a general rule, all over the Pacific we find that tapa
patterns are largely geometrical—that is, they are formed of straight
and angled lines; bowed lines, which are grouped into leaf-like
designs, are not infrequent, but doubly curved lines and scroll-like
designs are extremely rare. The evidence clearly points to a time
anterior to the employment of tapa, and when mats and other textiles
were the only fabrics; the decoration of these was necessarily angular
in style. When tapa became general the older designs were transferred
to the new material, and quite irrespective of its capabilities.
Only gradually has it been found that the smooth surface of tapa
lends itself to a more elaborate decorative treatment. The essential
conservatism of the savage precludes rapid emancipation from long
existent thralls, especially as the æsthetic mind has, so to speak,
become set in angularities.

It is probable that the practice of beating tapa with wooden mallets
led to the discovery of printing in colours. The transitions are slight
between finding the natural graining of wood impressing itself on the
soft tapa, of so cutting the mallets as to produce a regularly grooved
surface, and of colouring the blocks, and lastly of making the great
printing blocks on which the pattern stands up in relief, which were
made in Fiji. Sometimes the lines in relief of printing blocks are made
by fastening the mid ribs of palm leaves on to a stout piece of tapa.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.—Sketches of tapa belts from Kerepunu, British
New Guinea; about three-quarters natural size.]

In certain islands it has been discovered that fern fronds covered
with pigment can be used for printing, and thus what is known in this
country as “nature-printing” has been independently arrived at.

What has happened in the Great Ocean apparently also took place in New
Guinea. In the south-eastern peninsula the men wear tapa belts which
are often painted. About the district of Kerepunu, in British New
Guinea, tapa belts are worn by the men which are painted in a peculiar
manner with grey and orange pigments. In Fig. 51 we have two typical
patterns. It is obvious that the interlaced design would be easily
arrived at in a plaited belt, but it is highly improbable that it is,
so to speak, indigenous to the tapa.

In all the other examples of painted tapa known to me from British New
Guinea, angular designs alone occur.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.—Designs derived from _uluri_ (women’s
covering); A, B, C, Bakaïri tribe, Central Brazil; D, Auetö tribe,
Central Brazil. After Von den Steinen; greatly reduced.]

Professor von den Steinen discovered in Central Brazil some patterns,
which most people would designate as “geometrical,” painted on pieces
of bark which formed a frieze round a chief’s house. These patterns
(Fig. 52) are derived from serial repetitions of the minute triangular
garment which constitutes the sole clothing of the women. This is a
good example of the necessity for local information concerning the
significance of designs. I would refer the reader to later pages for
further examples of analogous patterns from the same district.

4. _Skeuomorphic Pottery._

Perhaps no manufacture is of such importance to anthropologists
as pottery. In Europe pottery first appeared in what is termed by
archæologists the Neolithic Age, or that period of human history when
man had learnt to neatly chip and to polish his stone implements, but
had not as yet discovered metal. Amongst living people the Australians
and the Polynesians are the only great groups among whom pottery is
unknown.[31] There can be little doubt that the ceramic art has been
independently discovered in various parts of the world, and Mr. Cushing
believes that this has been the case even in America.

      [31] In Oceania pottery is unknown save in the West, and there
      only sporadically. It is absent in Polynesia except in the
      Tonga Islands, where it is doubtless due to Fiji influence.
      Its distribution in Melanesia is erratic; for example, it
      occurs in the Fiji Islands, New Caledonia, and the Loyalty
      Islands. Rude, unglazed dishes are made in Espiritu Santo
      (R. H. Codrington, _The Melanesians_, 1891, p. 315), but not
      Aurora, in Pentecost and Lepers’ Island in the New Hebrides,
      nor in Banks’ Islands, Torres Islands, Santa Cruz Group, and
      most of the Solomon Islands. While wanting in the Bismarck
      Archipelago, it occurs in New Guinea. But even where pottery
      is made it is very local and confined to certain tribes. For
      example, in British New Guinea (A. C. Haddon, _The Decorative
      Art of British New Guinea_, 1894, pp. 149, 222-224) it is made
      only in the south-east peninsula and in some of the adjacent
      islands. In scattered villages, or even in parts of villages,
      from Yule Island to Maopa in Aroma, pottery is made from clay
      in the lump; but in the Engineer Group, and especially in
      Wari (or Teste Island), the clay is laid down in a spiral,
      and no stone and beater are used, but it is smoothed by a
      Tellina shell. This method is described and figured by Dr.
      Finsch (O. Finsch, _Samoafahrten_, 1888, p. 280; _Ethnological
      Atlas_, 1888, Plate IV.). The upper border of these pots,
      he says, “exhibits various simple band patterns, which are
      scratched with fork-like bamboo instruments, and which serve
      not as ornamentation but as trade-marks. Thus here also (as at
      Bilibili) each woman has her own mark, with which she signs her
      fabrication.” I have elsewhere (cf. _Decorative Art of British
      New Guinea_, p. 223) printed an extract from the unpublished
      journal of Dr. H. O. Forbes, in which he gives an account of
      the method of making pottery at Wari. Fig. 23 is a copy of
      Dr. Forbes’ sketches of these slightly decorated vessels. In
      German New Guinea (Kaiser Wilhelm’s Land) pottery is made
      from the lump, as among the Motu of British New Guinea, at
      Sechstroh River (Humboldt Bay), Goose Bay (Dallmann Harbour),
      the island of Bilia (Eickstedt Island in Prince Henry Harbour),
      and more especially at the island of Bilibili in Astrolabe
      Bay. Dr. Finsch claims that this pottery is of better quality
      and better decorated than that of the south-east coast. Some
      of the vessels are ornamented with small bosses. But the
      insignificant patterns, frequently made with the finger-nail,
      are probably intended, as in Port Moresby, for trade-marks,
      and not merely for ornament. From their extremely local and
      scattered distribution it is evident that the pottery makers
      of New Guinea are not autocthones, but belong to the waves
      of Melanesian immigration that have washed the coast and
      neighbouring islands.

      In speaking of New Caledonia Baron L. de Vaux (L. de Vaux, “Les
      Canaques de la Nouvelle-Calédonie,” _Rev. d’Ethnog._, ii.,
      1883, p. 340) says, “formerly the women of Pouébo, Oubatche,
      and Pam had the monopoly; now the art tends more and more to
      disappear as the natives find it more practical to buy trade
      vessels. They succeeded in making pots to the height of two
      feet, and very often decorated externally with lizards and
      frogs in relief. The base being ready, they superimpose rings
      of well-prepared clay the one above the other, holding them and
      joining them from the interior with the left hand, whilst they
      smooth their work externally by means of the right hand and of
      a little beater of smooth, hard wood.”

      Mr. Atkinson (J. J. Atkinson, “Notes on Pointed Forms of
      Pottery among Primitive Peoples,” _Journ. Anth. Inst._, xxiii.,
      1893, p. 90) also describes the New Caledonian method of making
      pottery, and draws attention to the fact that the occasional
      traces of faint horizontal marks occasioned by the technique
      “imitate the marks left by pottery made on the system of
      plastering wickerwork employed by some people,” and therefrom
      he suggests a necessary warning not to take the latter method
      as having been of universal occurrence.

Earthen vessels are comparatively easy to make, and though they
are brittle, their fragments, when properly baked, are almost
indestructible. The history of man is unconsciously written largely
on shards, and the elucidation of these unwritten records is as
interesting and important as the deciphering of the cuneiform
inscriptions on the clay tablets of Assyria. The Book of Pots has
yet to be written, but materials for its compilation lie scattered
throughout the great literature of archæology, anthropology, and
ceramics, and in the specimens in a multitude of museums and
collections. The scientific treatment of the subject has been
sketched out mainly by W. H. Holmes and F. H. Cushing, and I have not
hesitated to borrow largely from the publications of these American

There are three principal methods of making clay vessels—1, by coiling;
2, by modelling; or 3, by casting.

In the first method longer or shorter rope-like pieces of clay are
formed. These are laid down in a spiral, and the vessel is built up by
a continuation of the same process.

In modelling, or moulding, a lump of clay is taken, and this is first
worked with the hands, and then the clay is gradually beaten into the
desired shape and thickness by means of a wooden mallet, which hits
against a stone or other object that is held inside the incipient

The third method, by casting, is very rarely employed except by quite
civilised peoples. It was a comparatively late discovery that clay
vessels could be cast within hollow moulds if the paste was made thin

The coiling and moulding processes are in some places employed side by
side, and a vessel may be commenced in the latter method and finished
by coiling. (Fig. 55.) This is done by the Nicobarese,[32] Pueblo
Indians, and other peoples.

      [32] E. H. Man, “Nicobar Pottery,” _Journ. Anth. Inst._,
      xxiii., 1893, p. 21.

The subject of the forms and decoration of pottery is so important for
our study that it will be advisable to quote at considerable length
some of the American investigations which bear upon it. Nowhere than
in that continent are conditions more favourable to a scientific study
of the evolution of ceramics, and our American colleagues happily are
fully alive to this fact. Their researches afford valuable sidelights
upon the probable history of European prehistoric ceramics.

Mr. J. D. Hunter,[33] writing of the Mississippi tribes in 1823, says
that they spread the clay “over blocks of wood, which have been formed
into shapes to suit their convenience or fancy. When sufficiently dried
they are removed from the moulds, placed in proper situations, and
burned to a hardness suitable to their intended uses. Another method
practised by them is to coat the inner surface of baskets, made of
rushes or willows, with clay, to any required thickness, and when dry,
to burn them as above described.”

      [33] J. D. Hunter, _Manners and Customs of several Indian
      Tribes located west of the Mississippi_. Philadelphia, 1823,
      p. 296.

Messrs. Squier and Davis,[34] referring to the vessels of the Gulf
Indians, say:—“In the construction of those of large size, it was
customary to model them in baskets of willow or splints, which at the
proper period were burned off, leaving the vessel perfect in form, and
retaining the somewhat ornamental markings of their moulds. Some of
those found on the Ohio seem to have been modelled in bags or nettings
of coarse thread or twisted bark. These practices are still retained by
some of the remote western tribes.”

      [34] Squier and Davis, _Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi
      Valley_, 1848, p. 187.

Mr. W. H. Holmes[35] points out that “clay has no inherent qualities of
a nature to impose a given form or class of forms upon its products,
as have wood, bark, bone, or stone. It is so mobile as to be quite
free to take form from surroundings.... In early stages of culture the
processes of art are closely akin to those of nature, the human agent
hardly ranking as more than a part of the environment. The primitive
artist does not proceed by methods identical with our own. He does not
deliberately and freely examine all departments of nature or art, and
select for models those things most convenient or most agreeable to
fancy; neither does he experiment with the view of inventing new forms.
What he attempts depends almost absolutely upon what happens to be
suggested by preceding forms.

      [35] W. H. Holmes, “Origin and Development of Form and Ornament
      in Ceramic Art,” _Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of
      Ethnology_, 1882-83. Washington, 1886.

“The range of models in the ceramic art is at first very limited, and
includes only those utensils devoted to the particular use to which the
clay vessels are to be applied; later, closely associated objects and
utensils are copied. In the first stages of art, when a savage makes
a weapon, he modifies or copies a weapon; when he makes a vessel he
modifies or copies a vessel” (pp. 445, 446).

The discovery of the art of making pottery was probably in all cases
adventitious, the clay being first used for some other purpose.
“The use of clay as a cement in repairing utensils, in protecting
combustible vessels from injury by fire, or in building up the walls
of shallow vessels, may also have led to the formation of discs or
cups, afterwards independently constructed. In any case the objects or
utensils with which the clay was associated in its earliest use would
impress their forms upon it. Thus, if clay were used in deepening
or mending vessels of stone by a given people, it would, when used
independently by that people, tend to assume shapes suggested by stone
vessels. The same may be said of its use in connection with wood and
wicker, or with vessels of other materials. Forms of vessels so derived
may be said to have an adventitious origin, yet they are essentially
copies, although not so by design” (p. 445). In other words, such
pottery is primitively skeuomorphic. Ceramic biomorphs will be dealt
with in a later chapter.

Mr. Holmes further points out that the shapes first assumed by vessels
in clay depend upon the shape of the vessels employed at the time of
the introduction of the art, and these depend, to a great extent, upon
the kind and grade of culture of the people acquiring the art, and upon
the resources of the country in which they live.

A few examples will suffice. Mr. Holmes (_loc. cit._, pp. 383, 448)
figures an oblong wooden vessel with a projecting rim, which is narrow
at the sides but broad at the ends; it is in fact a sort of winged
trough; this is sometimes copied in clay. It is evident that the
elongated terminal shelf-like projections are more suited to a wooden
than to an earthen vessel.

In Fig. 53 we have an Iroquois bark-vessel. Mr. Cushing[36] informs us
that in order to produce this form of utensil from a single piece of
bark, it is necessary to cut pieces out of the margin and fold it.
Each fold, when stitched together in the shaping of the vessel, forms
a corner at the rim. These corners, and the borders which they form,
are decorated with short lines and combinations of lines, composed of
coarse embroideries with dyed porcupine quills. Clay vessels (Fig. 54),
which strikingly resemble the shape and decoration of these birch or
linden bark vessels, are of common occurrence in the lake regions of
the United States. There can be but little doubt that the clay vessels
are directly derived from the bark vessels.

      [36] F. H. Cushing, “A Study of Pueblo Pottery as illustrative
      of Zuñi Culture Growth,” _Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of
      Ethnology_, 1882-83. Washington, 1886.

[Illustration: FIG. 53.—Iroquois bark vessel; after Cushing.]

[Illustration: FIG. 54.—Rectangular, or Iroquois, type of earthen
vessel; after Cushing.]

Mr. Cushing’s long and intimate knowledge of the Zuñi Indians has
enabled him to speak with authority on matters which might be merely
happy suggestions by other anthropologists. Any one can guess at
origins and meanings, but there are few who know at first-hand, and who
therefore can act as interpreters to the student at home. The following
account of Zuñi pottery is taken from Mr. Cushing’s paper, entitled “A
Study of Pueblo Pottery as illustrative of Zuñi Culture Growth.”

So far as language indicates, the earliest Zuñi water vessels were
tubes of wood or sections of cane. The latter must speedily have given
way to the use of gourds. While the gourd was large and convenient in
form, it was difficult of transportation, owing to its fragility. To
overcome this it was encased in a coarse sort of wicker-work. Of this
there is evidence among the Zuñis, in the shape of a series of rudely
encased gourd vessels into which the sacred water is said to have been
transferred from the tubes.

This crude beginning of the wicker-art in connection with water vessels
points towards the development of the wonderful water-tight baskets of
the south-west, explaining, too, the resemblance of many of its typical
forms to the shapes of gourd vessels. The name for these vessels also
supports this view.

Mr. Cushing suggests that water-tight osiery, once known, however
difficult of manufacture, would displace the general use of gourd
vessels. While the growth of the gourd was restricted to limited areas,
the materials for basketry were anywhere at hand. Basket vessels were
far stronger and more durable than gourds.

“We may conclude, then,” continues Mr. Cushing, “that so long as
the Pueblo ancestry were semi-nomadic, basketry supplied the place
of pottery, as it still does for the less advanced tribes of the
south-west, except in cookery.” Thus the _Ha va su paí_, or Coçoninos
of Cataract Cañon, Arizona, in 1881, “had not yet forgotten how to boil
food in water-tight basketry, by means of hot stones, and continued
to roast seeds, crickets, and bits of meat in wicker-trays, coated
inside with gritty clay. A round basket-tray, either loosely or closely
woven, is evenly coated inside with clay, into which has been kneaded
a very large proportion of sand, to prevent contraction and consequent
cracking from drying. This lining of clay is pressed, while still
soft, into the basket as closely as possible with the hands, and then
allowed to dry. The tray thus made is ready for use. The seeds or
other substances to be parched are placed inside of it, together with
a quantity of glowing wood coals;” these are made to rapidly revolve.
“That this clay lining should grow hard from continual heating, and in
some instances separate from its matrix of osiers, is apparent. The
clay form thus detached would itself be a perfect roasting vessel” (pp.
484, 485). The modern Zuñi name for a parching pan indicates that the
shallow vessel of twigs coated with clay for roasting had given birth
to the parching pan of earthenware.

In the ancient Zuñi country are found vessels of the same form as the
basket-pot or boiling basket, still surviving among the Havasupaí.
These baskets are good examples of the spirally-coiled type of basket.

“Seizing the suggestion afforded by the rude tray-moulded
parching-bowls, particularly after it was discovered that if well
burned they resisted the effects of water as well as of heat, the
ancient potter would naturally attempt in time to reproduce the
boiling-basket in clay. She would find that to accomplish this she
could not use as a mould the inside of the boiling-basket, as she had
the inside of the tray, because its neck was smaller than its body. Nor
could she form the vase by plastering the clay outside of the vessel,
not only for the same reason, but also because the clay in drying
would contract so much that it would crack or scale off. Naturally,
then, she pursued the process she was accustomed to in the manufacture
of the basket-bottle. That is, she formed a thin rope of soft clay,
which, like the wisp of the basket, she coiled around and around a
centre to form the bottom, then spirally upon itself, now widening the
diameter of each coil more and more, then contracting as she progressed
upward until the desired height and form were attained. As the clay
was adhesive, each coil was attached to the one already formed by
pinching or pressing together the connecting edges at short intervals
as the widening went on. This produced corrugations or indentations
marvellously resembling the stitches of basket-work. Hence accidentally
the vessels thus built up appeared so similar to the basket which had
served for its model that evidently it did not seem complete until
this feature had been heightened by art. At any rate, the majority
of specimens belonging to this type of pottery, especially those of
the older periods during which it was predominant, are distinguished
by an indented or incised decoration exactly reproducing the zigzags,
serrations, chevrons, terraces, and other characteristic devices of
water-tight basketry. Evidently, with a like intention, two little
cone-like projections were attached to the neck near the rim of the
vessel, which may hence be regarded as survivals of the loops whereby
the ends of the strap-handle were attached to the boiling-basket.
Although varied in later times to form scrolls, rosettes, and other
ornate figures, they continued ever after quite faithful features of
the spiral type of pot, and may even sometimes be seen on the cooking
vessels of modern Zuñi.” Corroborative evidence of the connection
between the two kinds of receptacles is found in their names, the
translation being “coiled cooking-basket” and “coiled earthenware
cooking-basket” (pp. 489-491).

Other earthenware vessels had a somewhat different evolutionary
history, but they had for their starting-point the food-trencher of
coiled wicker-work. When by a perfectly natural sequence of events
ornamentation by painting came to be applied to the surface of the
bowls a smooth surface was found preferable to a corrugated one, not
only because it took paint more readily, but because it formed a far
handsomer utensil for household use than if simply decorated by the
older methods.

Later the building up of large vessels was no longer accomplished by
the spiral method exclusively. “A lump of clay, hollowed out, was
shaped how rudely so ever on the bottom of the basket or in the hand,
then placed inside of a hemispherical basket-bowl, and stroked until
pressed outward to conform with the shape, and to project a little
above the edges of its temporary mould, whence it was built up spirally
(Fig. 55) until the desired form had been attained, after which it was
smoothed by scraping.”

[Illustration: FIG. 55.—Clay nucleus in base mould, with beginning
of spiral building; a stage in the formation of a Zuñi vessel; after

With regard to the employment of textile supports by the ancient
peoples of North America for the clay vessels during the process of
manufacture, Mr. Holmes[37] writes:—“Nets or sacks of pliable materials
have been almost exclusively employed. These have been applied to the
surface of the vessel, sometimes covering the exterior entirely, and at
others only the body or a part of the body. The nets or other fabrics
used have generally been removed before the vessel was burned or even
dried.... I have observed in many cases that handles and ornaments
have been added, and that impressed and incised designs have been made
in the soft clay after the removal of the woven fabric. There would
be no need of the support of a net after the vessel had been fully
finished and slightly hardened. Furthermore, I have no doubt that
these _textilia_ were employed as much for the purpose of enhancing
the appearance of the vessel as for supporting it during the process
of construction. In support of the idea that ornament was a leading
consideration in the employment of these coarse fabrics, we have the
well-known fact that simple cord-markings, arranged to form patterns,
have been employed by many peoples for embellishment alone. This was a
common practice of the ancient inhabitants of Great Britain”[38] (p.

      [37] W. H. Holmes, “Prehistoric Textile Fabrics of the United
      States derived from Impressions on Pottery,” _Third Ann. Rep.
      Bureau Ethnol_. Washington, 1884.

      [38] A very interesting collateral line of study has sprung
      from Mr. Holmes’ investigations of the impressions on pottery.
      By the simple expedient of taking impressions in clay from
      ancient pottery, and so throwing into high relief the rather
      obscure intaglio impressions in the originals, he has been
      able to restore a considerable number of diverse fabrics which
      were used for the purposes just stated. “The perfect manner in
      which the fabric in all its details of plaiting and weaving can
      be brought out is a matter of astonishment; the cloth itself
      could hardly make all the particulars of its construction
      more manifest.” The perishable material so impressed the clay
      that when it had long since crumbled into dust the latter was
      enabled to transmit the details of the structure of a fabric
      the very existence of which would otherwise never have been

The value of the bearing of such observations as the foregoing on the
study of the prehistoric pottery of Europe is obvious. In America
the record is unbroken; with us, like the great majority of our
archæological finds, we are dealing with fragments, and it is only by
careful piecing together that a symmetrical whole can be restored.

Dr. Klemm,[39] some half-century ago, wrote:—“The imitation (of natural
vessels) in clay presupposes numerous trials. In the Friendly Islands
[Tonga[40]] we find vessels which are still in an early stage; they are
made of clay, slightly burnt, and enclosed in plaited work; so also the
oldest German vessels seem to have been, for we observe on those which
remain an ornamentation in which plaiting is imitated by incised lines.
What was no longer wanted as a necessity was kept up as an ornament.”

      [39] G. Klemm, _Allgemeine Cultur-Geschichte der Menschheit_,
      vol. i. p. 188.

      [40] Pottery is made in Fiji, but not in Tonga.

Dr. Daniel Wilson[41] says that the early British urns may have been
“strengthened at first by being surrounded with a plaiting of cords
or rushes.... It is certain that very many of the indented patterns
on British pottery have been produced by the impress of twisted cords
on the wet clay—the intentional imitation it may be of undesigned
indentations originally made up by the plaited network on ruder
sun-dried urns.”

      [41] D. Wilson, _Prehistoric Annals of Scotland_ (2nd ed.),
      1863, i. p. 430.

Professor Tylor[42] refers to Mr. G. J. French’s experiments.[43] “He
coated baskets with clay, and found the wicker patterns came out on all
the earthen vessels thus made; and he seems to think that some ancient
urns still preserved were actually moulded in this way, judging from
the lip being marked as if the wicker-work had been turned in over the
clay coating inside.”

      [42] E. B. Tylor, _Researches into the Early History of
      Mankind_ (3rd edit.), 1878, p. 273.

      [43] G. J. French, _An Attempt_, etc., 1858.

“On the surface of a few ancient vases or urns found in Germany,” Mr.
Charles Rau[44] says, “I noticed those markings which present the
appearance of basket-work; I was, however, in doubt whether they were
impressions produced by the inside of baskets, or simply ornamental
lines traced on the wet clay. Yet, even in the latter case, it would
seem that this kind of ornamentation was suggested by the former
practice of modelling vessels in baskets.”

      [44] Charles Rau, “Indian Pottery,” _Smithsonian Report_, 1866,
      p. 346, and 1882, p. 49.

It may be taken as proved that in a number of cases the forms of pots
are taken from natural objects, or from receptacles made of different
materials. We cannot demonstrate this in all cases, nor should we
expect to, for even assuming this to have been the universal origin, we
cannot hope to have the earlier stages preserved to us. The record is
imperfect, the evidence of origin is clear in some cases, and probable
in others; in some the evidence is lacking.

What applies to the form of pottery applies equally to its decoration;
often it is impossible to disassociate them. The actual or primitive
technique of manufacture, too, may exhibit itself in and as an
ornament, as, for example, the spiral markings in pottery made in
the coil method. We have seen that in some places plaited or woven
fabrics have been used to support the soft clay, and these have
left their impress. If not previously destroyed, these marks become
indelible after the burning of the pottery. These markings being due
to the process of manufacture, are repeated in the manufacture of
every vessel, and if not purposely smoothed out, expectancy comes into
operation, and they may be imitated in a slightly conventional manner
even when they may no longer occur in construction, as, for example,
when the supports are no longer employed, or in pottery turned on a

Various methods of plaiting, intertwining, netting, and so forth may
thus be transferred as skeuomorphic decoration to pottery. These are
at first produced by means of incisions, puckerings of the clay by the
fingers, application of accessory coils or pieces of clay, etc. Even
the accidental imprints of nails or finger-tips, or of implements, may
have suggested certain decoration.

Later on, when pottery was decorated by painting, the same kind of
ornamentation was reproduced in the new medium, and as the changed
conditions evoked freer treatment, the designs underwent various

Mr. Holmes[45] discusses the modification of ornament (1) through
material, (2) through form, (3) through methods of realisation (p. 458).

      [45] W. H. Holmes, “Origin and Development of Form and Ornament
      in Ceramic Art,” _Fourth Ann. Rep. Bureau Ethnol_. Washington,

(1.) The material of which an object is made must have a very definite
effect upon its decoration, and the material is to a very large extent
dependent upon the locality. Metal, stone, clay, wood, bone, skins, and
textiles are so varied in their structure that they require different
artistic treatment, and it has usually taken a considerable time for a
people to discover what is the most suitable form of decoration for an
object made of a particular substance.

(2.) The forms of decorated objects exercise a strong influence upon
the decorative designs employed. An ornament, as Mr. Holmes remarks,
applied originally to a vessel of a given form, accommodates itself to
that form pretty much as a costume becomes adjusted to the individual.
When it came to be required for another form of vessel, very decided
changes might be necessary.

[Illustration: FIGS. 56 and 57.—Variations in a motive through the
influence of form. Pueblo pottery; after Holmes].

The ancient Pueblo peoples were very fond of rectilinear forms of
meander patterns, and many earthen vessels are found girdled with a
beautiful angular pattern. (Fig. 56.) When, however, the artist has to
decorate a vessel which has rounded prominences in its central zone,
he finds it very difficult to apply his favourite device, and he is
practically compelled to convert his angled into a spiral meander.
(Fig. 57.)

(3.) Ornament is modified by the method of its execution, whether by
incising, modelling, painting, or stamping; closely associated with
these are the peculiarities of construction.

Nearly all woven fabrics encourage, even to compulsion, the use of
straight lines in their decoration. Curved lines are rendered as
stepped or broken lines. Fig. 58 illustrates, in a diagrammatic
manner, two forms of the same motive as expressed in different arts.
The curvilinear freehand scroll, which is readily painted, incised,
or moulded in relief, is forced by the constructional character of
textiles into square forms, and a rectangular meander or fret will
result. Brickwork, mosaics, or whole-coloured tiles also lead to
similar results. In the small panel to the left of Fig. 59 it will be
observed that careless or hurried work has resulted in the rounding of
an angular hook, which has been transmitted to pottery from a textile
source. I have noticed the angularisation of spirals occurring in New
Guinea; this was due, not to change in the material employed, but to
the preference which the natives of the Papuan Gulf have to straight
and angled lines. (Cf. Figs. 11, 12.) Primitive spirals have been
copied by these people, and have gradually become angularised into a
rectilinear meander.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.—A, Freehand form; B, Form imposed by fabric.
Forms of the same motive expressed in different arts; after Holmes.]

[Illustration: FIG. 59.—Design of Fig. 60; after Holmes.]

[Illustration: FIG. 60.—Ancient Pueblo vase, province of Tusayan. The
height and width of the vase are 14 inches; after Holmes.]

Fig. 60 is a drawing of the painted design of a large earthen vessel
from the province of Tusayan, in the district of the Colorado Chiquito.
From the occurrence of an isolated stepped line in the decoration, Mr.
Holmes suggests that the ornamentation had a textile ancestry. The
design is made by leaving the white colour of the pot and painting
a black background. The “unit of the design,” as interpreted by Mr.
Holmes, is given in black in Fig. 61. Judging from Fig. 60, which is a
representation of the vessel itself, Fig. 59 is a fairly faithful copy
of the design; but there is no warrant on this vase for his joining
the scroll pattern at each end with its enclosing line, as in Fig. 61.
It is obvious that if this design were logically worked out, it would
appear as in the last figure; it may be so on other vases, but Mr.
Holmes apparently is concerned with this one. Professor Grünwedel[46]
has drawn attention to the mistake of rectifying aboriginal drawings,
as we are thereby preventing ourselves from studying the psychology of
the natives. According to the method we are employing, we are concerned
with what actually occurs, and not with what might be.

      [46] Cf. p. 334, which is an abstract of what that author says.

[Illustration: FIG. 61.—“Unit of the design” of Fig. 60; after Holmes.]

5. _Stone Skeuomorphs of Wooden Buildings._

Sir C. Fellows,[47] in his interesting account of his travels in Asia
Minor, draws attention to the remarkable rock-tombs which he discovered
in Lycia, and which clearly prove that these tombs were models in stone
of wooden dwellings. At Antiphellus (Plate V., Fig. 1) the timbering is
reproduced to every detail of mortise and tenon. The stems of trees,
laid horizontally to cover the chamber, are imitated in masonry. They
project beyond the wall, and show their ends, as a row of circular
sections, in the middle of the entablature. The tree trunk at each
extremity of the row was larger than the rest, and has been squared.
Sometimes all the trunks are squared, as may be seen at Xanthus (Plate
V., Fig. 2); and we witness, as Dr. March points out, the origin of
the well-known Greek ornament called “guttæ.” He also calls attention
to the fact that skeuomorphs of timbering were much affected by the
Normans, as in their various billet patterns; whilst their capitals
often show sections, not alone of branches springing from a tree trunk,
but of the enveloping bark also. (Plate I., Fig. B.)

      [47] C. Fellows, _A Journal written during an Excursion in Asia
      Minor_, 1839.

Another rock tomb at Antiphellus (Plate V., Fig. 3) shows a row of
squared trunks projecting beyond the side of the building, as would be
a natural arrangement in any wooden house that had a length greater
than its width. In the same building are external indications of
a second story. They are indications only, for the story does not
exist. The device is a skeuomorph, because it is functionless. “But
we understand,” to again quote from Dr. March, “the origin of our
‘string-course,’ and we recognise one of the many reasons, in the
ancestral training of the eye of our race, why the sight of a large
unbroken surface produces in the mind a sense of disappointment, a
feeling of unsatisfied expectancy, the anguish that Hood sings—

    “‘A wall so blank
      That my shadow I thank
    For sometimes falling there!’”

The gables of the roof of the old-time houses were often formed by the
bent boughs of trees crossing each other at the ridge, as witnessed by
an Etruscan hut-urn from Monte Albano (Plate I., Fig. C), and Pompeian
wall-paintings. (Plate V., Fig. 4.) A finished treatment of the bent
bough gable is seen in a tomb at Antiphellus. (Plate V., Fig. 3.)

In the wooden originals of the rock-tombs of Asia Minor (Plate V.,
Figs. 2, 3) one sees the birth of the gable which, arising as a
structural necessity, was perpetuated in stone as the crowning glory of
Grecian temples, and ever since has remained as a decorative adjunct
to buildings, or the functionless adornment of the humblest household
furniture. (Plate I., Figs. D-F.)

6. _Skeuomorphic Inappropriateness._

We have seen that as the bronze implement replaced the neolithic celt,
so the lashing of the latter became a skeuomorphic decoration on the
former. As tapa replaced matting the conditioned ornamentation of the
early fabric was transmitted to a material which in itself imposed few
artistic limitations. The same also with pottery when it was derived
from or suggested by baskets; basketry impressed itself on the clay,
literally or figuratively as the case may be, and thenceforward pots
were doomed to basket-like ornamentation until the possibilities of
clay worked out the freedom of the pot from the limitations of the
basket. In all the above we have a continuity in function, and it is
not very surprising that indications of structure stubbornly persisted.

Everywhere the human mind has become accustomed to certain local
patterns, designs, and structures. These are bound up with the sacred
associations of family and religion, with the green memories of
childhood, and have become as it were indented into the consciousness
of the individual. To many minds new designs are unvalued; they awaken
no sympathy, they are devoid of associations; like alien plants, they
pine away and die.

The pleasure which people take in beauty prompts them to ornament
almost everything which admits of decoration, and it is the old
patterns and designs which are most frequently copied. So it comes
about that these are scattered with an impartial hand, and often
without any regard to appropriateness. By inappropriateness I do not
wish to imply that the ornament may not be suitable, but merely that
it has no meaning so far as the decorated object is concerned. As
a rule the decorative art of the less advanced peoples is far more
appropriate[48] than that of civilised. We may not have the clue, but
the more we do know the more suitable do we find the decoration to
be. The symbols of religious ceremonies are usually depicted on the
utensils employed in that rite; the transference of such symbols to
purely secular objects would clearly be inappropriate decoration. Our
knowledge of the precise use of objects in ethnological collections,
and the significance of their form and decoration is in many cases
so imperfect that we are not in a position to criticise their
appropriateness; but we have only to look around us at the objects of
everyday life to see that ornamentation is quite as often inappropriate
as appropriate. It will afford continual pleasure to attempt to trace
the skeuomorphic (or “technical,” as it is sometimes called) origin
of many patterns which have wandered far, and have at last found
themselves in strange company.

      [48] A remarkable example of inappropriate skeuomorphic
      decoration occurs among some of the tribes of Central Brazil,
      where the small triangular covering of the women is copied and
      made into patterns (Fig. 52) on various objects, some being on
      the bark tablets which run as a frieze round a chief’s house
      (pp. 97, 175).


From things made by hands I now pass to natural objects, that we may
see how these too are seized upon and modified by primitive folk.

Natural objects fall naturally into two main classes—inanimate and
animate subjects; in other words, physical phenomena and living beings.

1. _Physicomorphs._

Under the term of “physicomorph”[49] I propose to describe any
representation of an object or operation in the physical world. The
heavens and all the powers therein have been depicted in every age and
by diverse peoples—usually, but not invariably, with some mystical or
religious significance.

      [49] φυσικός—of or concerning the order of external nature;
      natural, physical.

Chief of the dreaded powers of the air were the thunder-storm, with
its concomitants, the thunder and lightning. These have impressed
themselves upon the imagination of man, not only on account of their
majesty, but also because of man’s impotence. The thunder is the voice
of the god, the lightning his destructive and blasting energy.

The most obvious sign for lightning, a zigzag line, is practically
ubiquitous. Similarly the sun is variously depicted as a star with few
or many rays; as a circle, with a cross or star inscribed within it, or
with rays projecting from its periphery. A plain disc, or more often a
crescent, stands for the moon.

As the heavenly powers are so generally associated with the heavens,
the celestial phenomena and bodies come to represent these cosmical
deities, and symbolism is born. In the following pages I touch upon
some of the symbolism of physicomorphs in America; later, in dealing
with religion and its symbolism, I shall discuss similar symbols in the
Old World.

[Illustration: FIG. 62.—Modern Moki rain symbol; after Holmes.]

[Illustration: FIG. 63.—Decorative detail from an ancient Pueblo
medicine-jar; after Holmes.]

The symbolism of their autocthones has been, and is still actively and
sympathetically studied by American anthropologists, as in a valuable
paper[50] by F. H. Cushing, who remarks:—“The semi-circle is classed as
emblematic of the rainbow; the obtuse angle as of the sky; the zigzag
as lightning; terraces as the sky horizons, and modifications of the
latter as the mythic ‘ancient sacred place of the spaces,’” and so on.

      [50] _A Study of Pueblo Pottery_, etc., 1886.

By combining several of these elementary symbols in a single device,
sometimes a mythic idea was beautifully expressed. For example, Fig. 62
is the totem-badge Major J. W. Powell received from the Moki Pueblos
of Arizona as a token of his induction into the rain gens of that
people. An earlier and simpler form of this occurs on a very ancient
sacred medicine jar. (Fig. 63.) The sky (A), the ancient place of the
spaces—region of the sky gods—(B), the cloud-lines (C), and the
falling rain (D), are combined, and depicted to symbolise the storm,
which was the objective of the exhortations, rituals, and ceremonials
to which the jar was an appurtenance.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.—Rain-cloud tile of the South House in a Tusayan
ceremony; after Fewkes.]

Dr. J. Walter Fewkes, in a more recent paper entitled “A few Summer
Ceremonials at the Tusayan Pueblos,”[51] gives an interesting account
of the Flute Ceremony. Several ancient rain-cloud tiles are described;
one of them (Fig. 64) was in the room of the South House, which
contained the altar. “Like its fellow, this tile had an _O’-mow-uh_
[cloud] symbol, with falling rain and the two lightning snakes depicted
upon it. There were also fourteen broad black parallel lines on a white
ground representing falling rain. Three rain-cloud semi-circles were
outlined by a broad black band above the falling rain. The field of
the clouds was brown, and the middle cloud, which was the largest, had
a conventionalised half-ear of corn,[52] consisting of two parallel
rows of rectangular kernels, each with a dot in the middle. A field
of green occupied the whole face of the tile above the figures of the
rain-clouds. On this region, rising from the depression which separates
the lateral from the medial rain-cloud, one on each side, there was a
brown zigzag lightning figure outlined in black. Each of these bore a
simple terraced _nā’k-tci_ [a terraced tablet placed on the head of
certain figures] on the head” (p. 121).

      [51] “A few Summer Ceremonials at the Tusayan Pueblos,”
      _Journal of American Ethnology and Archæology_, ii., 1892.

      [52] Maize or Indian corn.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.—Zuñi prayer-meal-bowl; after Cushing.]

Mr. Cushing[53] has drawn attention to a bowl of which the form as well
as its decoration is symbolic. He says, “Thus, upon all sacred vessels,
from the drums of the esoteric medicine societies of the priesthood
and all vases pertaining to them, to the keramic appurtenances of
the sacred dance or _Kâ’kâ_, all decorations were intentionally
emblematic. Of this numerous class of vessels I will choose but one
for illustration—the prayer-meal-bowl of the _Kâ’kâ_. (Fig. 65.) In
this both form and ornamentation are significant. In explaining how
the form of this vessel is held to be symbolic, I will quote a passage
from the ‘creation myth,’ as I rendered it in an article on the origin
of corn, belonging to a series on ‘Zuñi Bread-stuff,’ published this
year [?1882] in the _Millstone_ of Indianapolis, Indiana. ‘Is not the
bowl the emblem of the earth our mother? For from her we draw both food
and drink, as a babe draws nourishment from the breast of its mother;
and round, as is the rim of a bowl, so is the horizon, terraced with
mountains, whence rise the clouds.’ This alludes to a medicine bowl,
not to one of the handled kind, but I will apply it as far as it goes
to the latter. The two terraces on either side of the handle are in
representation of the ‘ancient sacred place of the spaces,’ the handle
being the line of the sky, and sometimes painted with the rainbow
figure. Now the decorations are a trifle more complex. We may readily
perceive that they represent tadpoles, dragon-flies, with also the frog
or toad. All this is of easy interpretation. As the tadpole frequents
the pools of springtime he has been adopted as the symbol of spring
rains; the dragon-fly hovers over pools in summer, hence typifies the
rains of summer; and the frog, maturing in them later, symbolises the
rains of the later seasons; for all these pools are due to rainfall.
When, sometimes, the figure of the sacred butterfly replaces that of
the dragon-fly, or alternates with it, it symbolises the beneficence of
summer; since, by a reverse order of reasoning, the Zuñis think that
the butterflies and migratory birds bring the warm season from the
‘Land of everlasting summer.’

      [53] _Loc. cit._, p. 517.

“Upon vessels of special function, like these we have just noticed,
peculiar figures may be regarded as emblematic. On other classes, no
matter how evidently conventional and expressive decorations may seem
(excepting always totemic designs), it is wise to use great caution in
their interpretation as intentional and not merely imitative.”

The study of symbols is a peculiarly difficult one, and there is no
branch of our subject which contains so many pitfalls for the unwary.
The two following paragraphs, respectively by Messrs. Holmes and
Cushing,[54] afford a useful warning:—

      [54] _Annual Report Bureau of Ethnology_, iv.

“There are those who, seeing these forms already endowed with
symbolism, begin at what I conceive to be the wrong end of the process.
They derive the form of the symbol directly from the thing symbolised.
Thus the current scroll is, with many races, found to be a symbol of
water, and its origin is attributed to a literal rendering of the sweep
and curl of the waves. It is more probable that the scroll became the
symbol of the sea long after its development through agencies similar
to those described above, and that the association resulted from the
observation of incidental resemblances. This same figure, in use by
the Indians of the interior of the continent, is regarded as symbolic
of the whirlwind, and it is probable that any symbol-using people will
find in the features and phenomena of their environment, whatever it
may be, sufficient resemblance to any of their decorative devices to
lead to a symbolic association” (p. 460).

“To both the scroll or volute and the fret, and modifications of them
ages later, the Pueblo has attached meanings. Those who have visited
the South-west and ridden over the wide, barren plains during late
autumn or early spring have been astonished to find traced on the sand,
by no visible agency, perfect concentric circles and scrolls or volutes
yards long, and as regular as though drawn by a skilled artist. The
circles are made by the wind driving partly broken weed-stalks around
and around their places of attachment until the fibres by which they
are anchored sever and the stalks are blown away. The volutes are
formed by the stems of red-top grass and of a round-topped variety
of the Chenopodium drifted onward by the whirlwind, yet around and
around their bushy adhesive tops. The Pueblos, observing these marks,
especially that they are abundant after a wind storm, have wondered
at their similarity to the printed scrolls on the pottery of their
ancestors. Even to-day they believe the sand marks to be the tracks of
the whirlwind, which is a god in their mythology of such distinctive
personality that the circling eagle is supposed to be related to
him. They have naturally, therefore, explained the analogy above
noted by the inference that their ancestors, in painting the volute,
had intended to symbolise the whirlwind by representing his tracks.
Thenceforward the scroll was drawn on certain classes of pottery to
represent the whirlwind and modifications of it (for instance, by the
colour-sign belonging to any one of the ‘six regions’) to signify other
personified winds” (p. 515).

It is interesting to note that colours are often symbolic. Thus in a
footnote to p. 111, _loc. cit._, Dr. Fewkes says:—“Red is the colour
of the south, yellow of the north, blue of the west, and white of
the east. For the west the available pigment used has, however, a
green colour, although blue is the colour corresponding to west.”
A correspondence on the colours of the winds was carried on in the
_Academy_ in 1883. Dr. Whitley Stokes points out (p. 114) that among
the Mayas of Yucatan red was associated with the east, white with the
north, black with the west, and yellow with the south. (Cf. Brinton,
_Folk-Lore Journal_, i. p. 246.) In Ireland, east was purple; south,
white; north, black; and west, dun; the sub-winds between S. and E.
were red and yellow respectively; between S. and W., green and blue;
between N. and W., grey and dark brown; between N. and E., dark grey
and speckled. Professor Max Müller (p. 302) notes that among the
Navajos E. is dark; S., blue; W., yellow; N., white (cf. Mathews,
_Amer. Anth._, April 1883); and in the Veda E. was red; S., white; W.,
dark or dark blue; and N., very dark. Lastly, Mr. Hilderic Friend (p.
318) says that in China and ancient Java there were five deities or
rules—(1) black, water, N.; (2) red, fire, S.; (3) green, wood, E.; (4)
white, metal, W.; (5) yellow, earth, middle. Colonel Garrick Mallery
has also some notes on this subject, _Fourth Ann. Rep. Bureau Ethnol._,
Washington, p. 53, and _Tenth Ann. Rep._, p. 618.

It is very rarely that landscapes are drawn by savages purely for
decorative purposes. Maps or plans, or diagrams which are virtually a
kind of elevation section, or even a sort of bird’s-eye view, may be
limned for mnemonic or directive purposes (p. 209); but pictorial views
are so rare that it is worth while giving an illustration of one (Fig.
66) which I found etched on a bamboo tobacco-pipe, from Torres Straits,
in the Museum für Völkerkunde, in Berlin.

[Illustration: FIG. 66.—Tracing of a landscape etched on a bamboo
tobacco-pipe, in Berlin; three-eighths natural size.]

I have little doubt that the island of Mer is here intended, on account
of the shape of the hill and the presence of dome-shaped structures,
which I take to be the beehive huts which characterise the eastern
tribe of Torres Straits. I add for comparison a rough sketch (Fig. 67)
I took of this island, as seen from the south-west by west.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.—Sketch of Mer (Murray Island), by the author,
from the south-west-by-west, showing the hill Gelam.]

The natives have a legend that this hill, “Gelam,” was originally
a dugong; and I believe the eye-mark in the native’s drawing is
intended for the eye of Gelam, “Gelam dan,” and the projection to the
extreme left to indicate Gelam’s nose, “Gelam pit,” a small jutting
rocky escarpment at the head end of the island, which is enormously
exaggerated in the drawing. I take it that the break in the ground
of Fig. 66, below the first bird, indicates the hill “Korkor,” which
forms the tail of the dugong in my sketch, and which is one end of the
horse-shoe shaped crater of a volcano. The part extending beyond this
is the lava-flow which forms the north-eastern half of the island.[55]
The vegetation is suggested in a very perfunctory manner. I do not know
what the lines that stream from the apex of the hill are intended for.
I should add that to make it approximately topographically accurate,
the native picture should be reversed,[56] assuming my identification
to be correct. What I imagine to have occurred is as follows:—The
artist intended to represent Mer (Murray Island), and he drew the
peak of the principal hill, Gelam, from a very characteristic point
of view (I have sketches of my own similar to this); in order to give
a realistic touch he inserted the eye, which is a prominent block of
volcanic ash, and added the nose. The view is suggestive, but it is an
impossible one, and it appears to me that this is characteristic of a
great deal of the pictorial art of savages.

      [55] Cf. map by author in a paper “On the Geology of Torres
      Straits,” by Professors A. C. Haddon, W. J. Sollas, and G. A.
      J. Cole. _Trans. Roy. Irish Acad._, xxx., 1894, pp. 419-470.

      [56] An interesting example of reversal is found on a bamboo
      tobacco-pipe which I obtained on the island of Mabuiag in
      Torres Straits, and which I have given to the National Museum
      at Washington, U.S.A. On one side of the pipe was cut =ᑎAЯIЯ=,
      and on the other =MÖRAP=; the latter is the name for a bamboo
      pipe, and the former I understood was the name of the place in
      Daudai where the owner had cut the bamboo from which he made
      the pipe; possibly it was his own name. It will be observed
      that this name, which is really =RIRAU=, is printed backwards,
      and the final =U= is upside down. I suspect that the occasional
      reversal of words is due to the method of counting on the
      fingers which these people employ. They always begin with the
      little finger of the left hand, and pass from the thumb of the
      left hand to that of the right. If a man was spelling out a
      word letter by letter as if he were counting he might readily
      fall into the error of putting down the first letter in a place
      corresponding to the little finger of the left hand, and so on.
      If the man who carved the pipe began with =RIRAU=, that word
      would utilise all the digits of the left hand, and so =MÖRAP=
      would come right end foremost on the right hand.

2. _Biomorphs._

The terms “zoomorph” and “phyllomorph” have been employed for the
representations in art of plants and animals. Although man is,
zoologically considered, only a higher animal, it is convenient to
retain the term “anthropomorph,” which has been used by some writers
to express representations of the human form. All three terms have
reference to living beings, hence the appropriateness of classing
them under the general designation of “biomorph.” The biomorph is
the representation of anything living in contradistinction to the
skeuomorph, which, as we have seen, is the representation of anything
made, or of the physicomorph which is the representation of an object
or operation in the physical world.

The fact that there is life in the original of the biomorph appears in
most cases to exert an influence on the biomorph itself, so that it
comes to have what might almost be described as a borrowed vitality.

The distinctive activities or qualities of any living being, more
especially in the case of animals, very often cause them to be taken as
symbolic of that particular quality. For example, the harmless, gentle,
and affectionate dove, which only busies itself with parental cares,
has come to be symbolic of peace. There are other reasons to which
allusion will be made which have conspired to render biomorphs very
important in decorative art.

Biomorphs partake of one characteristic of their originals. They have
a life-history. All organisms are born, they grow, they die. During
their growth they all pass through greater or less changes. Sometimes
these changes, as in the metamorphoses of most insects, have attracted
the attention of the least observant, and have appeared to be of such
significance as to have been utilised for the illustration of religious
doctrines. Whether taking place in full daylight, open to casual
observation, or hidden in obscurity, or encapsuled within an egg-shell,
marvellous transformations invariably accompany the earlier stages of
the development of animals, from the egg stage. The development records
an evolution, the history of which is being worked out in detail by the
patient investigators of one of the most fascinating of all branches of

We have now to trace the birth, the evolution, and the decay of
biomorphs, and we shall find that the subject is scarcely less
suggestive and interesting than that of the very animals themselves.

Biomorphs are represented for varied purposes, and with other
representations may be classified according to the diagram given in the
introductory section (p. 8).

A. _Representation of Abstract Ideas of Life._

Even such an abstract idea as the Principle of Life, or Vital Energy,
has been indicated in decorative art. “On every class of food- and
water-vessels, in collections of both ancient and modern Pueblo pottery
(except on pitchers and some sacred receptacles), it may be observed as
a singular, yet almost constant feature, that encircling lines, often
even ornamental zones, are left open or not, as it were, closed at
the ends,” writes Cushing[57] (p. 510), who adds, “I asked the Indian
women, when I saw them making these little spaces with great care, why
they took so much pains to leave them open. They replied that to close
them was ‘fearful!’—that this little space through the line or zone
on a vessel was the ‘exit trail of life or being.’ How it came to be
first left open, and why regarded as the ‘exit trail,’ they could not
tell. When a woman has made and painted a vessel she will tell you with
an air of relief that it is a ‘Made Being’; as she places the vessel
in the kiln, she also places in and beside it food. The noise made
by a pot when struck or when simmering on the fire is supposed to be
the voice of its associated being. The clang of a pot when it breaks
or suddenly cracks in burning is the cry of this being as it escapes
or separates from the vessel. That it has departed is argued from the
fact that the vase when cracked never resounds as it did when whole.
This vague existence never cries out violently unprovoked; but it is
supposed to acquire the power of doing so by imitation; hence, no one
sings, whistles, or makes other strange or musical sounds resembling
those of earthenware under the circumstances above described during
the smoothing, polishing, painting, or other processes of finishing.
The being thus incited, they think, would surely strive to come out,
and would break the vessel in so doing.” In their native philosophy
and worship of water, the latter is supposed to contain the source
of continued life, hence life also dwells in a vessel containing
water, and having once held water, and in virtue of having done so, it
contains the source of life. “If the encircling lines inside of the
eating bowl, outside of the water jar, were closed, there would be no
exit trail for this invisible source of life, or for its influence
or breath.” In attempting to arrive at the origin of this, Cushing
points out that it is very “difficult to smoothly join a line incised
around a clay pot while still soft, and that this difficulty is greater
when the ornamental band is laid on in relief. It would be a natural
outgrowth of this predicament to leave the ends unjoined, which indeed
the savage often did. When paint instead of incision or relief come to
be the decorative agent, the lines or bands would be left unjoined in
imitation. As those acquainted with Tylor’s _Early History of Mankind_
will realise, a ‘myth of observation’ like the above would come to be
assigned in after ages.”

      [57] F. H. Cushing, “A Study of Pueblo Pottery as illustrative
      of Zuñi Culture Growth,” _Fourth Ann. Rep. Bureau Ethnol._,
      1882-83. Washington, 1886.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.—Pueblo water-jar; after Cushing.]

The soul or spirit as it is supposed to emerge from a person at death
is often represented in Christian art as a miniature man or as a winged
monstrosity, as a butterfly by the ancient Greeks, or in various ways
by different peoples. Souls of deceased persons may be enshrined in
living fruit-eating bats,[58] frigate-birds,[59] crocodiles,[60]
lizards,[61] sharks,[62] or other animals. Under certain conditions the
representation of any of these forms would be emblematic of the soul.

      [58] According to a legend collected by the author in Torres

      [59] Dr. Codrington, _The Melanesians_, p. 126.

      [60] M. Uhle, “Holz- und Bambus-Geräthe aus N.W. Neu Guinea,”
      _K. Eth. Mus., Dresden_, vi., 1886, p. 6.

      [61] M. D’Estrey, “Étude ethnographique sur le Lézard chez les
      Peuples Malais et Polynésiens,” _L’Anthropologie_, iii., 1892,
      p. 711.

      [62] Dr. Codrington, _The Melanesians_, p. 126.

The dove, flames (or tongues) of fire, wind, and other emblems are
symbolic of spirit in Christian art.

B. _Phyllomorphs._

It has been frequently remarked that plant forms are rarely represented
by savages. A possible explanation may be found in the fact that
plant life is so passive, it does nothing actively or aggressively as
compared with the irrepressible vitality of animals. Thus it does not
impress itself on the imagination of backward peoples.

Another explanation has been suggested to me by Dr. Colley March. The
need of ornament is based on expectancy. The eye is so accustomed to
something in a certain association, that when this is not seen there is
experienced a sense of loss. Among savage peoples the eye is accustomed
to dwell on vegetal forms which are always present. It is only when
they cease to be present, as in the exceptional circumstances of desert
places, or walled towns, that the sense of loss can arise.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.—Design based on a palmito leaf, Bakaïri tribe,
Central Brazil; after Von den Steinen.]

It is very probable that the reputed paucity of ornamentation derived
from the vegetable world amongst primitive folk may be partly due to
our not recognising it as such. Their conventions are not the same as
ours, and they are often satisfied with what appears to us to be a very
imperfect realism. Who, for example, would recognise in Fig. 69 the
leaves of a small “cabbage”-bearing wild palm? Yet the pattern on this
painted bark-tablet of the Bakaïri tribe of Central Brazil has this
significance, according to Professor von den Steinen (cf. p. 175).

Backward people have to be taught to see beauty in nature, and it is
very doubtful if the elegance of the form of flower or leaf appeals
to them. Bright colours we know please all, and it is the colour or
scent of flowers and leaves which causes them to be worn or used in

One of the very few instances known to me in which vegetable forms are
employed in ornamentation by the natives of British New Guinea occurs
along the Fly River (Figs. 4, 8). These natives are fond of decorating
their drums with leaves, hence it may happen that, on the principle of
expectancy, leaves become mentally associated with drum decoration, and
in consequence often carved upon drums, and thence, by the constraint
of the feeling of expectancy transferred to pipes and other objects;
the casual decoration becomes an engraved ornament. On the other hand,
the Fly River appears to have been a culture route (pp. 28, 70), and
the employment of plant motives (if the majority of these devices are
really such) may be partly due to influence from Malaysia. Dr. M.
Uhle[63] points out that “The influences of the plant ornamentation
of the East Indian Archipelago are also found in Western New Guinea.
Although essentially peculiar to the western portion of the East Indian
Archipelago it is not wanting in isolated cases in the eastern. Plant
ornamentations in perforated carving are known from Halmahera which
form a precise parallel with the carvings from Geelvink Bay. Further,
the plant ornamentation occurs in Geelvink Bay also in isolated
four-petalled flowers, as in Celebes, Halmahera, Timor, and Borneo.
[Plant garlands are found on objects from the neighbourhood of Geelvink
and Humboldt Bays.] A complete tendril with four-rayed leaves [or
flowers] occurs as a pattern on a pottery-beater from Humboldt Bay.[64]
Trustworthy examples from further east in North New Guinea are either
absent or are as yet unrecorded. The influence of the western plant
ornament is also felt in South-west New Guinea in the district between
Kamrao and Etna Bays. The formation of a cruciform pattern through the
arrangement of four Nassa shells, which occurs not only in Geelvink Bay
but also in South-west New Guinea at Wamuka River, appears to be due to
the influence of a plant pattern, the frequent four-petalled flower.”

      [63] “Holz- und Bambus-Geräthe aus Nord West Neu Guinea,”
      _Dresden Ethnograph. Mus._, 1886.

      [64] P. Mantegazza, “Studii antrop. ed etnogr. sulla Nuova
      Guinea,” _Arch. per l’Antrop. e la Etnol._, vii., 1877, Pl. X.,
      No. 914.

In the central district of British New Guinea plant forms appear to be
again met with (Fig. 21). I say “appear,” as unless there is direct
information from natives it is always risky to hazard a guess as to
the meaning of a particular design. The reason for these designs is at
present quite obscure, but there can be no doubt that there is a reason
for them, and a good one too.

Where plants are represented by savage peoples we shall probably find
that as a rule their employment is primarily due to other causes than
the selection of beautiful forms and graceful curves for their own
sakes. A very good example of this is found among the magic patterns
on the combs of the Negritos of Malacca, and I would refer the reader
to the section on Sympathetic Magic (p. 235), where this is dealt with
at considerable length. It may be that this four-rayed flower which is
credited with magical properties is the same which, as Dr. Uhle has
pointed out, is so widely spread in the decorative art of the Malay
Archipelago and Northern New Guinea.

Few plants have penetrated into the psychical life of man to the same
extent as the lotus. The food-plants, which afford sustenance to his
body, rarely, as such, enter the portals of art. Even those used in
fermentation do not necessarily fare much better. The chief exception
is the vine, which from its graceful habit of growth and its decorative
leaves and clusters of grapes readily lends itself to artistic
treatment, but in this case it was probably on account of the “wine
that maketh glad the heart of man,” rather than the beauty of the vine,
that this creeper became a favourite motive in decorative art. Having
once effected an entrance by appealing to the lower senses, the vine
retained its position by gratifying the higher. This chapter in the
history of art has, however, yet to be written.

Neither mere utility nor intrinsic beauty appear to be a necessary
qualification for the establishing of plant-life in decorative art. It
is only, so to speak, when plants are provided with a soul, when an
inner meaning is read into them, that they become immortalised.

The best example of this is found in the history of the lotus in
decorative art. Religion introduced it, symbolism established it, and
habit or expectancy retained it.

_The Lotus and its Wanderings._

As many mistakes have arisen from the confusion of the Egyptian lotus
with the rose water-lily it is necessary to clearly distinguish between

The White lotus (_Nymphæa lotus_) and the Blue lotus (_N. cœrulea_),
which is only a colour variety of the former, have a disc-like leaf,
cleft nearly to its centre, which floats on the surface of the water.
The calyx has only four coarse sepals which are dark green in colour,
and which entirely encase the bud until it begins to open. As it
expands the delicate white or sapphire blue petals offer a marked
contrast to the sepals. From four points of view of the open flower a
central and two lateral sepals will be evident, often when the flower
begins to fade the sepals bend downwards, but the petals do not expand
to a greater extent than is shown in the accompanying figure (Fig. 70),
in which will also be seen the characteristic seed-capsule with its
rosette-like apex.

[Illustration: FIG. 70.—Rough sketch of the Egyptian lotus (_Nymphæa
lotus_); after original drawings by Professor Goodyear.]

The rose water-lily, or water-bean (_Nelumbium speciosum_), according
to Professor Goodyear,[65] is not represented in Egyptian pattern
ornament. Its leaves (Fig. 71), standing erect out of the water,
are bell-shaped and not slit. The calyx has numerous, over-lapping,
scale-like sepals. The flower opens widely and the broad petals
disappear from view by the expansion of the blossom. The seed-pod
resembles the spout of a watering-pot. Sir J. G. Wilkinson says,[66]
“The Nelumbium, common in India, grows no longer in Egypt, and the care
taken in planting it formerly seems to show it was not indigenous in

      [65] W. H. Goodyear, _The Grammar of the Lotus_, 1891.

      [66] J. G. Wilkinson, _The Manners and Customs of the Ancient
      Egyptians_, ii. (3rd edition), p. 407.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.—Sketch of the Indian lotus (_Nelumbium
speciosum_); after _Description de l’Egypt: Histoire Naturelle_, from

In every book dealing with Ancient Egypt numerous figures of the lotus
will be noticed either in scenes illustrating the cult of some divinity
and as sacred symbols, or in later times employed merely for decorative
effect. The same remark applies, though to a less extent, to the art
of Chaldea, Assyria, Persia, India, Phœnicia, and several of the
Mediterranean countries.

Why should this motive be so widely spread? The most obvious answer
has already been suggested. Religion introduced the lotus to art. We
have already noticed the earthly original, now allusion must be briefly
made to its symbolism; then its original home must be sought; and
finally, some of its wanderings traced, and a few of its variations and
transformations noted.

It appears that in Ancient Egypt the lotus was symbolic of the sun; a
text at Denderah says, “The Sun, which was from the beginning, rises
like a hawk from the midst of its lotus bud. When the doors of its
leaves open in sapphire-coloured brilliancy, it has divided the night
from the day.”[67] At Denderah a king makes an offering of the lotus
to the Sun-god, Horus, with the words, “I offer thee the flower which
was in the beginning, the glorious lily of the Great Water.”[68]

      [67] Brugsch, _Religion und Mythologie der Alten Ægypter_, i.
      p. 103; cf. Goodyear, p. 6.

      [68] Brugsch, _Religion_, etc., i. p. 121; _loc. cit._, p. 6.

[Illustration: FIG. 72.—Lotus flowers and bud, painted on the coffin of
a mummy from the Necropolis of Thebes, Twentieth Dynasty; after Prisse

Fig. 72 is a detail taken from a plate in the second volume of the
magnificent atlas by Prisse d’Avennes;[69] it is part of the offerings
on an altar before Osiris, who is crowned with the solar disc. Osiris
is the sun in the Lower World—_i.e._, during the night, and the father
of Horus. Horus is sometimes depicted seated on a lotus.

      [69] _Histoire de l’Art Egyptien d’après les Monuments_, 1878.

The various animals which were symbolic of the sun or associated with
sun-divinities are also placed in direct connection with the lotus, as
if to emphasise its solar significance; for example—

The solar-bull is well recognised in Egyptian mythology, the Bull-god
Apis being an incarnation of Osiris, and an offspring of the Sun-god,
Ptah of Memphis. Similarly also for Assyria, Merodach, “the Bull of
Light,” was originally a Sun-god; his Syrian equivalent was Baal. The
Phœnician Moon-goddess, Astarte, had the bull as her symbol, and the
bull of Europa was its counterpart. The Taurus of the Chaldean Zodiac
commenced the year.

The lion was another sun-animal both in Egypt and in Chaldea and

Among birds the hawk and the eagle were sun symbols, especially
the former, and it is sometimes depicted standing on a lotus. The
solar-goose is also important in its association with the lotus. (Fig.
129, G.)

In early Cyprian pottery we find lotus derivatives grouped with the
solar cross and other symbols of the sun. (Fig. 129, F.)

The association of the lotus with the sun probably led to its other
symbolic relations, and these latter have rather drawn attention away
from what is here regarded as the more primitive symbol.

The lotus was a well recognised symbol of life, resurrection, and
immortality. It was largely employed in funeral rites in Egypt,
and is constantly associated with mummies, and also symbolised the
resurrection, but this latter idea was associated in the Egyptian mind
with reproductive power, and hence the relation of this also to the
lotus. Professor Maspero says:[70] “The assimilation and occasional
complete identity of the Supreme God with the sun being once admitted,
the assimilation and complete identity of the secondary divine beings
with Ra (the sun) were a matter of course. Amon, Osiris, Horus, Ptah,
were regarded sometimes as the living soul of Ra, sometimes as Ra
himself.” From this would result a mingling and extension of symbolism;
but upon these troubled waters the lotus calmly rides supreme. Its
association with the sun, its connection with reproductive energy, its
descent into the grave, and its symbolism of a resurrection have given
to the lotus that immortality which it symbolised.

      [70] Maspero, _Histoire ancienne des Peuples de l’Orient_,
      p. 31, cf. Goodyear, p. 11.

Although lotus designs are profusely scattered up and down in Egyptian
art there is no reason for believing that the Egyptians regarded it
as a national emblem, but it was a universally recognised symbol. At
the beginning of the year it sprouted from its slimy bed and floated
beautiful and pure on the surface of the waters. At sunrise the buds
opened and studded the water with white or cerulean asters, which
closed when night fell. Every autumn it died its annual death only as
prelude to the vernal resurrection.

The intensely religious mind of the Ancient Egyptians was permeated
with the problems of death and elevated by the prospect of immortality.
Resurrection and future bliss were articles of firm faith, not merely
a pious hope. What wonder then, with this religious saturation of
immortality, that the flower which symbolised the resurrection should
be depicted in such profusion in their tombs and elsewhere!

If the reader will take the trouble to compare lotus representations in
books on Egyptology it will be beyond dispute that it is the white or
blue lotus (Nymphæa), and not the rose water-lily (Nelumbium), which is
so ubiquitously delineated.

[Illustration: FIG. 73.—Lotus flower with two leaves, on a vase from
the Necropolis of Memphis, Fourth to Fifth Dynasties; after Prisse

A slightly conventionalised lotus with two of its leaves (Fig. 73) is
drawn on a vase contemporaneous with the pyramids, from the Necropolis
of Memphis (Fourth and Fifth Dynasties, 3998-3503 B.C.).

The same lotus flower (Fig. 72) appears some two thousand years later
in a representation of an offering to Osiris from the Necropolis of
Thebes belonging to the Twentieth Dynasty. Indeed, it was painted and
carved so frequently for thousands of years that it would be impossible
to describe its variations and applications. I must, however, permit
myself to allude to one or two examples which are interesting from
other points of view. In Plate VIII., Fig. 12, we see single lotus
flowers employed in an isolated manner in a border pattern, and
alternating with these is another device. The separation of the
elements of a border pattern is by no means universal in Egyptian
decorative art; for example, the scroll pattern (Fig. 74) from the
Necropolis of Thebes is a good example of a pattern which gives an idea
of flow, but even here there is a lack of continuity in the spiral band
which creates a feeling of dissatisfaction when one attempts to trace
out the construction of the design. It is evident that in such patterns
the spiral is quite a secondary motive, and it thus has not been worked
out logically; the lotus flowers and the rosettes are the essential
elements of the pattern.

[Illustration: FIG. 74.—Lotus border; from Goodyear, after Prisse

With the last figure we may compare the scroll detail (Fig. 75) from a
Melian vase, the lotus flower being represented by four black marks,
and the scroll has acquired that development which is so characteristic
of Ægean art.

[Illustration: FIG. 75.—Lotus scroll detail on a Melian vase; from
Goodyear, after Conze.]

Various causes may lead to the evolution of a recognised scheme of
decoration of certain objects, but when a new class of objects is to
be decorated the artist has a chance to exhibit his originality; even
so this is about the last thing which decorative artists do manifest.
The constraint of custom appears to exert an influence too potent to
be readily snapped, and so the Egyptian decorator, being further tied
by religious sentiment, ornamented even extensive areas, such as the
ceilings of tombs, with lotus designs, the main elements of which had
been elaborated elsewhere.

[Illustration: FIG. 76.—Pattern from the ceiling of a tomb, Necropolis
of Thebes, Eighteenth Dynasty; from Coffey, after Prisse d’Avennes.]

In Fig. 76 we have a ceiling design in which the lotus is very apparent
both in flower and bud; the rosettes, like spiders’ webs, may possibly
represent the leaves of the lotus (Fig. 70), and we have the same
interlocking but discontinuous spirals that occur in Fig. 74.

A different treatment of the same motive is seen in Fig. 77, but here
only the lotus flowers and the interlocking scrolls are employed. Below
each flower is a fan-like portion apparently tied on to the former;
this may have some significance or it may be merely a convenient method
of finishing off the flower.

[Illustration: FIG. 77.—Pattern from the ceiling of a tomb, Necropolis
of Thebes, Eighteenth to Nineteenth Dynasties; from Coffey, after
Prisse d’Avennes.]

In these old Egyptian designs the rosette is often associated with the
lotus and lotus derivatives, as in Fig. 74; and it may happen, as in
Fig. 78, that the former is the most prominent motive. The lotus is
here represented solely by the black triangles which occupy the angles
of the quadrangular spaces which contain the rosettes; at all events
there is good evidence to support this view.

The angularisation of the last pattern gives us Fig. 79, which many
people would imagine to be Greek, although, as a matter of fact, it is
ancient Egyptian. The rosettes and the angled scrolls alone persist.
We cannot speak with certainty as to the reason for the modification
of the scrolls, but it is probable that it resulted from an attempt
to copy such a painted design as Fig. 78 in textiles, and the pattern
metamorphosed by the new conditions was painted on the tomb ceilings
along with its more flowing progenitor. For further examples of
analogous transference of designs from one technique to another, and
their consequent transformation, the reader is referred to p. 112.

[Illustration: FIG. 78.—Pattern from the ceiling of tomb No. 33,
Abd-el-Kourneh, Thebes, Seventeenth to Twentieth Dynasties; from
Coffey, after Prisse d’Avennes and Goodyear.]

[Illustration: FIG. 79.—Pattern from the ceiling of a tomb from
Thebes, Seventeenth to Twentieth Dynasties; from Coffey, after Prisse

Professor Flinders Petrie has stated that the scroll or spiral was
one of the greatest factors in the early development of ornament,
and only second to the lotus in the part it played in the decorative
ideas of the ancient world. What it symbolised, if symbolise anything
it did, we know not. Some affect to see in it a representation of the
wanderings of the soul, but why, as Professor Petrie suggests, some
souls should come to the end of their wanderings in a spiral and others
in an oval is not explained. Its oldest use was on the scarabs, where
it was clearly used first as “filling-in” ornament. We can first trace
it about 3,500 B.C. At first in loose unconnected “C” and “S” links,
and afterwards in every variety of combination, continuous as well as
unconnected, the scroll line winds its way for ages through the records
of Egyptian decoration. Yet there is a clear margin of 1000 years at
least between any Egyptian date of its use and its appearance in the
art of other ancient countries. From the fact that it is generally
coloured yellow in Egyptian designs, Professor Petrie infers that
gold was used in these forms to enclose gems, cloisonné and coloured
stones; indeed Schliemann found such work in his explorations at Mycenæ.

Mr. Arthur Evans remarks:[71]—“On the twelfth dynasty [about between
2778 and 2565 B.C.] scarabs the returning spiral motive, as is well
known to Egyptologists, was developed to an extraordinary degree.
These purely spiral types, like the twelfth dynasty motives, were also
copied by the native Cretan engravers. From Crete, where we find these
Aegean forms in actual juxtaposition with their Egyptian prototypes,
we can trace them to the early cemeteries of Amorgos, and here and in
other Aegean islands like Melos can see them taking before our eyes
more elaborate developments. Reinforced a thousand years later by
renewed intimacy of contact between the Aegean peoples and the Egypt
of Amenophis III., the same system was to regain a fresh vitality as
the principal motive of the Mycenæan goldsmith’s work. But though this
later influence reacted on Mycenæan art [about 1500 B.C.], as can be
seen by the Orchomenos ceiling, the root of its spiral decoration is to
be found in the earlier ‘Aegean’ system engrafted long before, in the
days of the twelfth dynasty.

      [71] A. J. Evans, “Primitive Pictographs and a Prae-Phœnician
      Script, from Crete and the Peloponnese,” _Journ. Hellenic
      Studies_, xiv., 1894, p. 328.

“In the wake of early commerce the same spiraliform motives were to
spread still further afield to the Danubian basin, and thence in turn
by the valley of the Elbe to the Amber Coast of the North Sea, there
to supply the Scandinavian Bronze Age population with their leading
decorative designs. Adopted by the Celtic tribes in the Central
European area, they took at a somewhat later date a westerly turn,
reached Britain with the invading Belgae, and finally survived in Irish

      [72] Cf. also G. Coffey, “The Origins of Prehistoric Ornament
      in Ireland,” _Journ. Roy. Soc. Ant. Ireland_, 1894, 1895.

Among the most frequent of the decorative designs employed by the
Assyrians are the knop (or bud) and flower pattern and the rosette, and
usually these are found in combination. For the former design I shall
employ the Greek term “Anthemion.”

“That flower,” write MM. Perrot and Chipiez,[73] “has been recognised
as the Egyptian lotus, but Layard believes its type to have been
furnished, perhaps, by a scarlet tulip which is very common towards
the beginning of spring in Mesopotamia.[74] We ourselves believe
rather in the imitation of a motive from the stuffs, the jewels, the
furniture, and the pottery that Mesopotamia drew from Egypt at a very
early date through the intermediary of the Phœnicians. The Phœnicians
themselves appropriated the same motive and introduced it with their
own manufactures, not only into Mesopotamia but into every country
washed by the Mediterranean. Our conjecture is to some extent confirmed
by an observation of Sir H. Layard’s. This lotus flower is only to be
found, he says, in the most recent of Assyrian monuments, in those,
namely, that date from the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., centuries
during which the Assyrian kings more than once invaded Phœnicia and
occupied Egypt.[75] In the more ancient bas-reliefs, flowers with a
very different aspect—copied in all probability direct from nature—are
alone to be found.

      [73] G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, _A History of Art in Chaldæa and
      Assyria_, 1884, i. p. 303.

      [74] A. H. Layard, _Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and
      Babylon_, i. p. 184, note.

      [75] _Nineveh and its Remains_, ii. p. 212, note.

“The lotus flower is to be found, moreover, in monuments much older
than those of the Sargonids, but that does not in any way disprove the
hypothesis of a direct plagiarism. The commercial relations between
the valleys of the Nile and the Euphrates date from a much more remote
epoch, and about the commencement of the eighteenth dynasty the
Egyptians seem to have occupied in force the basin of the Khabour,
the principal affluent of the Euphrates. Layard found many traces of
their passage over and sojourn in that district, among them a series
of scarabs, many of which bore the superscription of Thothmes III.
[1481-1449 B.C.]. So that the points of contact were numerous enough,
and the mutual intercourse sufficiently intimate and prolonged, to
account for the assimilation by Mesopotamian artists of a motive taken
from the flora of Egypt, and to be seen on almost every object imported
from the Nile Valley. This imitation appears all the more probable as
in the paintings of Theban tombs, dating from a much more remote period
than the oldest Ninevite remains, the pattern with its alternate bud
and flower is complete (Plate VIII., Fig. 12).

“The Assyrians borrowed their motive from Egypt, but they gave it
more than Egyptian perfection. They gave it the definite shapes that
even Greece did not disdain to copy. In the Egyptian frieze the cones
and flowers are disjointed; their isolation is unsatisfactory both to
the eye and the reason. In the Assyrian pattern they are attached to
a continuous undulating stem, whose sinuous lines add greatly to the
elegance of the composition.”

While admitting that the lotus motive overran Assyrian art, there is
reason to believe that it did so only because there was an antecedent
style upon which it could be engrafted. The pattern shown in Fig. 10,
Plate VIII., is an example of an Assyrian anthemion engraved on an
ivory panel in the British Museum, and of purely Assyrian workmanship.
It is worth while attempting to trace this back as far as possible. In
Fig. 4, Plate VIII., we have a pattern painted in red, blue, white, and
yellow upon plaster, discovered by Sir Henry Layard in Nebuchadnezzar’s
palace in Nineveh. In this there is a serial repetition of a disc, or
sphere, which is pendant; all the pendants are connected by a single
cord, which appears as if it were drawn into loops by their weight.

In Fig. 7, Plate VIII., we have a representation from a stone carving
of an Assyrian pavilion, and in Fig. 2 a “tabernacle” from the famous
bronze gates of Balawat, which were made for Shalmaneser II., and are
now in the British Museum. Yet more simple is the tasselled canopy
(Fig. 6) from an enamelled brick from Nimroud, a king who is standing
under this canopy has a fringe (Fig. 5) to his robe which is composed
of alternate white and yellow tassels. King Sargon (about 722 B.C.)
is also represented on a relief from Khorsabad in the Louvre, with a
similar fringe (Fig. 1) to the hem of his robe.

Any one who has done any plaiting in bands of two colours knows that
if the intersections be truly alternate the fringe along the opposite
borders will all be of the same colour as in A, Plate VIII., but if
the colours run in stripes the fringe all round will be composed of
alternate patches of colour. When bands composed of several threads
are employed, it is necessary to knot the strands together at the edge
to prevent fraying. A more pleasing border is formed by taking half
the strands of one band and tying them to half the strands of the next
band of the same colour, and so on (B, Plate VIII.). By this means we
naturally obtain a structural root-like origin for each tassel in the
fringe, which may be termed the connecting strand. This appears to have
been the common method of finishing off the edge of Assyrian textiles.

There is thus no difficulty in accounting for a fringe of tassels
(Figs. 1, 5, Plate VIII.). Awnings (Fig. 6) as a protection from the
blazing sun were a very common feature in Assyrian life. When the king
went out on warlike or hunting expeditions he took with him a large
royal tent or pavilion made of “slender columns with rich capitals
and a domed roof, made, no doubt, of several skins sewn together,
and kept in place by metal weights.[76] The pavilion (Fig. 7) was a
civil edifice, the temporary resting-place of the sovereign. The same
materials were employed in the same spirit in the erection of religious
tabernacles” (Fig. 2). It is, however, probable that brightly-woven
rugs or mats were employed for the smaller canopies; these would even
more require the employment of weights to prevent the wind from blowing
about the covering. One can hardly interpret the pendants on the royal
pavilion (Fig. 7) in any other manner than as weights to steady the
awning. The pendants would in the case of textiles be fastened on to
the tassels, probably they would sometimes be placed on alternate
tassels. In the pavilion so often referred to the weight pendants are
of two shapes, in this also carrying out that alternate arrangement
which manifests itself structurally in most textiles, and which
consequently gives rise to the feeling of expectancy in other objects.
Another example of this is seen in the representation of the vine in
Assyrian art, for the decorative sentiment has so possessed the artists
as to cause them to depict the branches with a leaf and a bunch of
grapes in regular succession.

      [76] Perrot and Chipiez, _Assyria_, i. p. 194.

There is no need to go further than this for the origin of the Assyrian
anthemion. We find a fringe of tassels in alternate colours, we find a
fringe of canopy weights of alternate design, we assume an occasional
alternation of fringe and weight. In all cases these must be serially
united by the “connecting strand.” How can the stone-carver or the
wall-decorator represent these three alternatives? Clearly they would
indicate rather than imitate them. What greater realism could we expect
than that which we have?

There are many ways of making tassels—for example, each one may be
allowed to splay out fan-wise, or it may be tightly tied round the
middle, or bound round so as to form a kind of cone or spindle.

Whether as variously tied, or differently coloured tassels, or
as alternate tassel and weight, a border of alternate members
organically springing from a common base was constantly before the
sight of the artists of this great textile manufacturing people. The
conventionalising tendency of decorative art did the rest, and the
various forms of Assyrian anthemion would easily follow.

A triple alternation (Fig. 9, Plate VIII.) occurs on an enamelled brick
tile from Nimroud in the British Museum. It is characteristically
Assyrian in style, but it does not give that effect of repose and
satisfied expectancy which we demand from a pattern, and in this
respect we cannot regard it as eminently successful.

If this hypothesis of Dr. March’s of the evolution of the Assyrian
anthemion be correct, this pattern is essentially a skeuomorph, but at
the same time certain local plant-forms were probably associated with

Let us now turn to the border pattern (Fig. 8, Plate VIII.) of the
carved stone thresholds, which are occasionally found in a marvellous
state of preservation. Here we have a “knop and flower pattern” which
differs as much from the Assyrian style as it resembles that of Egypt.
A comparison of this figure with Fig. 12, Plate VIII., will convince
most people that borrowing has taken place. It is not always easy to
determine how far the Assyrian anthemion has been influenced by native
foliage or by conventional designs derived from the local flora. In
these threshold borders, however, the Egyptian phyllomorph has grown,
as Dr. March points out, like a floral parasite on a skeuomorphic
basis. As introduced plants frequently overrun a new country and crowd
out native forms, so the lusty lotus invaded the field of Assyrian art,
and largely supplanted pre-existing phyllomorphs.

To return for a moment to the Egyptian pattern, the “proto-anthemion,”
as one may term it, is characterised by the absence of a connecting
strand, the buds and flowers springing from a basal line. My
friend, Dr. March, with his usual ingenuity, has suggested to me a
very plausible explanation of this fact. The Egyptian pattern was
phyllomorphic from the beginning, originating in symbolism it was
primitively a realistic representation of an erect water-plant.

Maspero says the decoration of each part of the Egyptian temple was in
consonance with its position. The lower parts of the walls were adorned
with long stems of lotus or papyrus—bouquets of water-plants emerging
from the water.

This then is the solution of the difficulty. The Egyptian
anthemion, derived from plants emerging from the water, has as a
rule no connecting strand. The Assyrian variety, derived from a
tassel-skeuomorph, is never without its looped base line, is primarily
pendant, and consists in the earliest stage of plants that are

The rosette (Plate VIII., Figs. 4, 8, 10) is usually stated to be an
essentially Mesopotamian device, but it is scattered up and down in
Egyptian and Mediterranean art. (Figs. 74, 78, 79, 84.) It may be
characteristic of Assyria, but it is by no means peculiar to it.

The rosette in Egypt is probably mainly a lotus-motive; the upper end
of the yellow-rayed seed-vessel may be regarded as the chief original,
but some are undoubtedly fully expanded lotus flowers seen from
above or below, or a group of buds or of flowers arranged radially.
However conventionalised it may become, the rosette is most constantly
associated with the lotus in Egypt, the land of its birth. Their
association elsewhere is only to be expected, as there would naturally
be a tendency for the rosette to accompany the knop and flower in their

According to Professor Flinders Petrie,[77] it is even doubtful whether
the rosette was truly of vegetable origin. The use of leather-work
seemed to have greatly modified the rosette. Its primitive form did not
look floral at all, merely a circle with white dotted lines radiating
across. Later, there were concentric rings of colours, with the same
white dotted lines. The stitched leather theory explained a whole host
of peculiar ornaments that could hardly otherwise be understood.

      [77] Newspaper Report of a Lecture delivered at the Royal
      Institution in May 1894.

Goodyear[78] points out (p. 101) that no dated example of the rosette
is known in Assyria or Chaldea before the twelfth century B.C.—_i.e._,
on the dress of Merodach-idin-akhi, King of Babylon. It occurs with
other lotuses in Egypt on the head-dress of Nefert, a statue of the
Fourth Dynasty, 3998-3721 B.C. As previously stated, the earlier
Egyptian kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty conquered Assyria. The reign
of Thothmes III., who, according to a contemporary expression, “drew
his frontiers where he pleased,” is placed by Professor Flinders
Petrie[79] from 1481-1449 B.C. The Egyptian empire then comprised
Abyssinia, the Soudan, Nubia, Syria, Mesopotamia, part of Arabia,
Khurdistan, and Armenia.[80]

      [78] _Grammar of the Lotus._

      [79] W. M. Flinders Petrie, _A History of Egypt_, i., 1894,
      p. 251.

      [80] Perrot and Chipiez, _Egypt_, i. p. 19.

In answer to the question, How is it that the fact has been overlooked
that the rosette is as familiar a feature of Egyptian ornament as the
earliest dated remains of other ornaments? Goodyear (p. 102) says that
the answer apparently is that the rosette is very abundantly known on
carved slabs from Nineveh, while the architectural surface carvings in
Egypt are almost absolutely destitute of rosette ornament, but it is
very frequently represented in tomb paintings.

Those who have argued for the Assyrian origin of the rosette appear
to have only compared the stone carvings of the two countries in
question, but it is well known that no borrowing of architecture took
place. There is evidence that portable objects were traded from Egypt
to Mesopotamia, and there is no doubt that the purely decorative
mural paintings of Egyptian tombs were analogous to the patterns on
Egyptian textiles, and these were traded to the East. The thresholds
from Assyria were undoubtedly carved in imitation of rugs; from the
monuments we may suppose that the walls were often decorated with woven
stuffs, the ornamentation of which was transferred to stone and glazed
bricks. We may then come to the conclusion that the mural decoration
of Assyria was affected by the designs of textiles and other portable
articles of merchandise, the idiosyncrasy of this country making itself
felt in the selection and adaptation of Egyptian originals.

In dealing with rosettes we must be very careful not to fall into the
common error of imagining that things which are similar are necessarily
the same. In the course of this book there are several examples of
the facility with which such a mistake could arise, and sometimes has
arisen. Patterns and designs must primarily be studied _in situ_, and
the wandering “from Dan to Beersheba” is to be deprecated as a method.
It is only when the indigenous material is insufficient, or fails in
its results, that the comparative method should be employed, and then
only when history, tradition, or other lines of evidence warrant its

Rosettes undoubtedly occur in Egyptian decoration as well as in
Assyrian. Goodyear makes a special pleading for the derivation of
the latter from the former. The question really is—Are all Assyrian
rosettes lotus-motives which originally had their source in Egypt? Few
will doubt that Egyptian rosettes may have travelled with other lotus
derivatives to Assyria, but it is improbable that a wholly foreign
ornament should stud itself so profusely and ubiquitously over Assyrian
architecture and manufactures.

I do not profess to be able to suggest what may be the original, or
originals, of the primitive Assyrian rosette; but it does seem as if
its vitality was increased and its employment further perpetuated
by the cross-fertilisation, to speak figuratively, of the immigrant
Egyptian variety.

In studying the influence of the lotus in decorative art we have to
travel far afield, as it has left its trace even in India. The art of
modern India is, so to speak, a medley composed of foreign motives and
influences associated with native designs and religion. Under the term
“native” must be included all the artistic influences which have been
afforded by the mixed races of that vast peninsula. A very brief and
limited survey of some of the historical aspects of the question must

In very early days “the Chaldeans, whose cry is in their ships,”
voyaged to India for commercial purposes. Proof of this is found in the
discovery of teak wood among the ruins of Mugheir. It is agreed also
that there are distinct traces of Assyrian influences in Indian art.

Sir George Birdwood[81] (ii. p. 162) says, “The researches of Mr.
Fergusson have shown that stone architecture in India does not begin
before the end of the third century B.C.;” and again (i. p. 99), “There
is no known Hindu temple older than the sixth or fifth century of the
Christian era; and all the earlier stone buildings are Buddhist.”

      [81] G. C. M. Birdwood, _The Industrial Arts of India_, 1880.

The same author has come to the conclusion (i. p. 146) “that the
remarkable European character of the Buddhistic sculptures in the
Panjab and Afghanistan is due, not to Byzantine, but to Greek
influence. They are unmistakably Buddhistic sculptures, and may
therefore date from B.C. 250 to about A.D. 700; and any of them
which are later than the fourth century A.D. may have been executed
under Byzantine influence.... Dr. Leitner was the first to insist on
describing (the Buddhistic remains in the neighbourhood of Peshawar in
the Panjab) as Græco-Buddhistic sculptures.... Their resemblance is
probably due to their having been executed by Indian workmen from Greek
designs or models.”

Goodyear remarks, “At a later date Hindu art became saturated with
Mahommedan lotus patterns. These were all originally borrowed in the
countries conquered by the Mohammedan Arabs, during the seventh
century A.D., Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Persia.” Islam swept
into her net the decorative art of the countries she conquered, and as
realism was denied to her owing to the Prophet’s injunction against
depicting human or animal forms, she had to fall back on patterns, but,
unknown to her, many of these were lotus derivatives. It was these
patterns that the Arabs brought with them to India.[82]

      [82] I have a note to the following effect, the origin of
      which I cannot now trace:—Art under the Mahommedans in the
      first centuries appears to have been much encouraged, as many
      drawings and pictures are shown, thus upsetting the general
      belief that the Koran forbade the representation of human and
      animal figures. The picture of a rider belonging to the period
      of Arab civilisation is remarkably spirited, the folds of the
      rider’s garments, as well as the figure itself, being admirably

“The history of India,” continues Goodyear, “thus explains why its
apparently favourite water-lily [the Nelumbium] has had so little
influence on its ornamental patterns. Although naturalistic rendering
of the rose water-lily is found in ancient and modern Oriental art, it
must be remembered that this has nothing to do with the dominance of
a pattern, which is a matter of technical tradition. It appears that
the famous Indian water-lily exercised no visible influence on the art
of Egypt, and that Egyptian patterns have invaded its own home by many
paths, at many times, borne by waves of historic influence which are
admitted to have determined the character of Hindu art since the third
century B.C., which is the first century in which this art is known to

Examples of Indian forms of the anthemion will be found on Sindh
pottery (Plate VIII., Fig. 11), on Delhi and Cashmere shawls, and on
innumerable other objects and temple carvings. If one compares the
anthemion combined with an “astragal” moulding in Fig. 80, which is
from the Lât at Allahabad, with Figs. 7 and 5, Plate V., which are
purely Greek, it will be evident that borrowing has taken place.
One cannot follow Sir George Birdwood[83] when he says this “necking
immediately below the capital represents with considerable purity
the honeysuckle ornament of the Assyrians, which the Greeks borrowed
from them with the Ionic order. Its form is derived originally from
the Date _Hom_, but it really represents, conventionally, a flowery
lotus, as the Bharhut sculptures enable us to determine. The ‘reel and
bead’ pattern running along the lower border of the necking represents
the lotus stalks.” This author does not state which lotus he refers
to, probably it is the Nelumbium or Rose water-lily, but the stalked
flowers added on each side of the central anthemion have no distinctive
character, nor can I see that the figures he gives of the Bharhut
sculptures are any more definite.

      [83] G. C. M. Birdwood, _The Industrial Arts of India_, ii.,
      1880, p. 167.

[Illustration: FIG. 80.—Anthemion and astragal moulding from the Lât
(stone column) at Allahabad; from Birdwood, after Fergusson.]

The Buddhist missionaries carried this pattern with them to China,
where on some of the pottery unmistakable lotus derivatives occur, and
those too of the anthemion series.

From the Orient we must retrace our steps westward. Persian art may be
left on one side, as it was largely a legacy of Assyrian.

Among the Mediterranean peoples the Phœnicians claim first attention on
account of their early assumed _rôle_ of middle-men. But as Perrot and
Chipiez remark, “In the true sense of the word we can hardly say that
Phœnicia had a national art. She built much and sculptured much, so we
cannot say she had no art at all; but if we attempt to define it, it
eludes us. Like an unstable chemical compound it dissolves into its
elements, and we recognise one as Egyptian, another as Assyrian, and
yet another, in its later years, as purely Greek. The only thing that
the Phœnicians can claim as their own is the recipe, so to speak, for
the mixture.” Herodotus tells us that the Phœnicians had in their ship
“Egyptian and Assyrian goods.”[84]

      [84] G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, _Art in Phœnicia and its
      Dependencies_, 1885, ii. p. 427.

Not only did the Phœnicians barter in foreign objects, but they
manufactured articles for trade, and were expert craftsmen. At the
funeral games in honour of Patroklos “the son of Peleus set forth other
prizes for fleetness of foot; a mixing-bowl of silver, chased; six
measures it held, and in beauty it was far the best in all the earth,
for artificers of Sidon wrought it cunningly, and men of the Phœnicians
brought it over the misty sea.”[85] As their home-made goods were
intended for foreign markets, they probably copied more or less exactly
from Egyptian and Assyrian sources. They were artificers rather than
original artists, their object was gain.

      [85] _Iliad_, xxiii. (Lang, Leaf, & Myers.)

On the whole it appears that the Egyptian influence was more patent
on Phœnician art than that of Assyrian, but on the other hand, the
Phœnician religion was Semitic, and by this they were far more closely
allied to Chaldea and Assyrian than to Egypt.

Through far wanderings and endless trafficking the “Phœnician,
practised in deceit, a greedy knave,” as Homer dubs him, introduced
numberless objects into the Mediterranean littoral which were
ornamented with lotus designs or with patterns of lotus origin.

The great skill of the Chaldeans and Assyrians in weaving and
embroidery enabled them to produce textiles which were highly valued
wherever they found their way. The appropriation of “a goodly
Babylonish garment” from the loot of Jericho by the unfortunate Achan
shows how much these fabrics were prized. We know that the decoration
of these beautiful and precious commodities reacted on the designs of
Phœnician manufacturers, and directly or indirectly had some effect in
guiding the nascent art of Europe.

When the Greeks were a young and growing people they, like most of
their neighbours, were forced to trade with the Phœnicians they so
despised, and were thus acquainted with trade goods from Mesopotamia
and Egypt. The Ionic Greeks were more particularly influenced by
Oriental art. The designs from early Greek tombs and the spoils
recovered by the spade in recent excavations clearly show the
nationality of the foster-mothers of Greek art.

The lessons learnt in childhood are hard to forget, and so, following
the traditions of their fathers, the decorators continued to employ
the same general patterns and designs that they saw around them and
which they had inherited. For centuries we see the anthemion reproduced
in architecture (Fig. 82 and Pl. V., Fig. 7), painting, pottery,
varied it may be in detail, but essentially the same pattern. Rarely
going direct to nature for inspiration, the Greeks were content
with endless repetitions of slight variants of the one eternal and
highly unconventional design. The mental unrest of the Greeks, which
was always seeking something new, was in marked contrast to their
decorative conservatism.

When the trade of Europe was taken up by Greeks they further
disseminated this dominant motive. In less chaste form we find it in
Roman art. The Renaissance gave it, with other matters classical, a new
lease of life.

But Europe was not dependent on Greek and Roman influences alone for
the spread of the anthemion. The Crusaders brought away with them many
Oriental goods, and that, too, from the meeting-place of Europe, Asia,
and Africa. Later the Moors invaded Spain, and left as the jetsam of
their retreat a wealth of matchless decorative art, amongst which our
old patterns may also be traced.

[Illustration: FIG. 81.—Saracenic Algerian detail; from Goodyear, after

By this time it is often flamboyant. (Fig. 81.) The isolated elements
of the design may have been the origin of the _fleur de lis_, of which
the Prince of Wales’ Feathers appear to be a variant.[86]

      [86] The reader is also referred to Dr. E. Bonavia’s studies
      (_The Flora of the Assyrian Monuments and its Outcomes_, 1894)
      for another theoretical origin of these designs. He lays stress
      on the practice of fixing horns on trees, and other places, by
      the Assyrians. We not only see horns and modifications of horns
      symmetrically used on the stem of their sacred trees, but we
      meet with them as decorative terminations on the poles of the
      royal tents (Plate VIII., Figs. 2 and 7). “They were symbols of
      power against the evil eye and evil spirits” (p. 205). Sooner
      or later they were sure “to have been taken up by artists,
      and modified in various ways into decorations for walls of
      temples, palaces, etc. And so, in truth, we see these horns, at
      first probably used solely from superstitious reasons, passing
      afterwards into motives for various decorative purposes” (p.

      “What is called the honeysuckle pattern, or anthemion, is
      nothing but the date-tree head supported by horns.... This
      so-called honeysuckle pattern is not, I think, the only outcome
      of the superstition of tying horns on trees, for I believe
      the fleur-de-lys, so much used in heraldry as a royal emblem,
      and on many coats-of-arms, seems but a modified imitation of
      the real horns tied on trees or posts” (p. 142). Dr. Bonavia
      discusses the history of the latter motive. It appears probable
      that it was introduced to French heraldry by Louis VII. on
      his return from the Crusades, and it is also likely that the
      device was independently associated with the lily and the iris
      in various countries after its real origin had been forgotten.
      (This applies equally to Goodyear’s or to Bonavia’s theory.)

      “The top of the Assyrian sacred date-tree, with its supporting
      horns, was probably taken up by the Greeks and modified into
      ornaments for friezes.” In support of this proposition Dr.
      Bonavia illustrates an anthemion from the Erechtheium (Fig. 82).

      “There are numerous architectural and decorative designs which,
      I think, are traceable to the Assyrian date-tree and its horns.
      The Prince of Wales’ feathers are perhaps also a descendant
      of the same motive. There are in it three elements held
      together by means of a crown, which may be a modification of
      the ligature” (p. 154). The trident and the caduceus are also
      supposed by this author to be “luck-horns” attached to a wand.

      It must be remembered that the ligatures are usually very
      distinct in Assyrian anthemia (Plate VIII., Figs. 9 and 10),
      and they require an explanation as much as any other detail
      of the design. Dr. Bonavia regards them as the lashings of
      luck-horns which have become modified into volutes. Dr. Colley
      March, as we have seen, attributes them to a textile origin. On
      the other hand, we find ligatures in Egyptian lotus designs, as
      in Fig. 77, where there is no suspicion of Assyrian influence;
      future research will doubtless show whether the central
      ligatures in Figs. 85 and 89 A are Assyrian, Egyptian, or local
      in origin.

Throughout the art of the civilised world of to-day we find repeated,
again and again, the misnamed honeysuckle pattern, or the anthemion, as
it is preferable to call it. Most of our modern examples can be traced
to Ancient Greece, but even there it had a hoary antiquity and probably
a multiple ancestry. It is not improbable that future research will
demonstrate that the history of this pattern is far more complex than
that which I have endeavoured to sketch out. Its amazing longevity may
be due to the fact that it arose from various radicles, and when the
branches met their differences were not too great to counterbalance
their resemblances, and so a fusion or mingling of elements could
easily and naturally result.

[Illustration: FIG. 82.—Ionic capital of the eastern portico of the

[Illustration: FIG. 83.—Early form of Ionic capital from Neandreia;
after Clarke.]

Mr. Goodyear has an elaborate study of the evolution of the Ionic
capital (Fig. 82) from the anthemion. A German architect and critic,
Semper,[87] appears to have been the first to derive the Ionic capital
from the volutes of the Assyrian palmette (Pl. VIII., Figs. 9, 10) by
a process of gradual suppression of the leafy portion and increase of
the scroll. Dr. J. T. Clarke[88] supported and elaborated this theory.
At Neandreia, near Assos, in Asia Minor, he discovered an Ionic capital
(Fig. 83) which is a valuable “missing link.” But, according to Mr.
Goodyear, there is no need to seek an Assyrian origin for this capital
when all the intermediate stages can be found in Egypt and in the Greek

      [87] G. Semper, _Der Stil in den technischen und tektonischen
      Künsten_ (2nd ed.), 1878.

      [88] J. T. Clarke, “A Proto-Ionic Capital from the Site of
      Neandreia,” _American Jour. of Archæol._, 1886, ii. p. 1.

[Illustration: FIG. 84.--Lotus design from a "geometric" vase from
Cyprus; after Goodyear.]

In Fig. 84 and Fig. 130, F, we have a lotus with curling sepals on
pots from Cyprus; no one can dispute that these are really lotuses.
The curling sepals become more spiral in Rhodian (Fig. 130, G), and
especially in Melian pottery (Fig. 85). The central rosette has now
become more leaf-like, but there are numerous true Egyptian examples
of this, as in a compound flower (Fig. 86) from a tomb ceiling, or
again (Fig. 87), on a blue-glazed lotus pendant from a necklace in
the British Museum, of the Nineteenth Dynasty. In the Owens College
Museum, Manchester, there is a somewhat similar enamel tomb amulet of
the Twelfth Dynasty (2778-2565 B.C.). The transition from these to the
stone or terra-cotta anthemion of the Parthenon (Fig. 88) is very

[Illustration: FIG. 85.—Lotus derivative on a vase of the seventh
century B.C., from Melos; from Goodyear, after Conze.]

[Illustration: FIG. 86.—Compound flower, based on the lotus, Thebes,
Eighteenth to Twentieth Dynasties; from Goodyear, after Prisse

Thus, according to this view, the volute of the Ionic capital is
merely a drooping lotus sepal, which became spiral in the Grecian
Archipelago. Many of the Ionic capitals, especially the earlier ones,
exhibit distinct traces of the central palmette, but eventually only
the spirals persisted, and the cleft between the curling sepals was
gradually reduced so that their stems came to appear as a transverse
band ending in volutes.

[Illustration: FIG. 87.—Lotus pendant from an Egyptian necklace of the
Nineteenth Dynasty; after Goodyear.]

[Illustration: FIG. 88.—Anthemion from the Parthenon.]

In following this view of the history of the Ionic capital we have
practically traversed that of the anthemion. The more typical examples
of this pattern not only present us with the element which we have
already briefly studied, but alternating with it is a trefoil. For
this again there are any number of Egyptian originals in which the
trefoil indicates a lotus flower; in this case all the petals have been
eliminated and only the sepals persist.

Lack of time prevents me from attempting to follow the fascinating
evolution of various patterns and designs which adorn Grecian temples
and vases; but I must permit myself to indicate a probable origin of an
exceedingly common pattern which has also overrun our own art. I refer
to the so-called egg-and-dart moulding of Greek entablatures (Plate V.,
Fig. 5), and the same motive painted on vases or moulded on the later
Samian ware (Plate V., Fig. 6). In these two figures the pattern is
drawn in its usual position, but, the better to follow the argument,
a typical variety is figured (Fig. 89) reversed. There are many
varieties, from a series of =U=-shaped figures with alternating dots,
as many Greek vases (Fig. 89, E), through the Samian device (Plate V.,
Fig. 6) and Erechtheium variety (Fig. 82 and Plate V., Fig. 5), to
others in which there is greater complexity and more floral forms (Fig.
89, D).

With any given series of designs it is possible to begin at either
end—in the one case there is an ascending evolution, in the other a
degeneration. Students of the biological method of treating decorative
art will recognise that the latter is by far the most general order in
the evolution of patterns, and by adopting it in this case Professor
Goodyear has been able to demonstrate the life-history of this pattern
to the satisfaction of many students.

In Fig. 89, A, we have a typical lotus flower and bud pattern or Greek
pattern from Rhodes; the same design occurs in a simplified form on a
fragment of Greek pottery from Naukratis (Fig. 89, B),[89] in which the
lotus flower is now a lotus trefoil; and in Fig. 89, C, the pattern is

      [89] W. M. Flinders Petrie, _Naukratis_, i., 1884-85; _Egyptian
      Exploration Fund_, 1886, Plate VII., Figs. 1, 6.

[Illustration: FIG. 89.—Hypothetical derivation of the “egg-and-dart”
moulding from a lotus pattern; according to Goodyear.

  A. Lotus anthemion on a vessel from Rhodes; after Salzmann.
  B, C. Lotus anthemia on pottery from Naukratis; after Flinders Petrie.
  D. Egg-and-dart moulding from the Erechtheium.
  E. Degraded egg-and-dart pattern painted on a Grecian vase.]

In Greek vases we usually find that decoration has been made with a
fine feeling for appropriateness; thus the erect anthemion occurs when
the vase is swelling, but where it is contracting an inverted anthemion
is placed, because the decorative lines thus widen to correspond with
the expansion of the vase. Again, in Egyptian tomb ceilings the
bordering lotus pattern is inverted, as the base line of the design
naturally is made to correspond with the peripheral line of the
ceiling—in other words, the lotus anthemion was inverted.

We have then a painted lotus bud and trefoil pattern which was often
inverted and as often a simple design. According to this view, the egg
of the egg-and-dart pattern is simply a semi-oval left between two
lotus trefoils, the dart being the central sepal. When this design
came to be incised in stone, the new technique very slightly modified
the pattern, and the flat oval areas necessarily came to be carved
as rounded or leaf-shaped projections. On these latter occasionally
appear reminiscences of the intervening buds, as on the Erechtheium
leaf-and-dart moulding. Many variants occur in this device, especially
in Roman sculpture.

Professor Goodyear points out that the egg-and-dart moulding as such
is unknown to Egyptian patterns, owing to the almost entire absence
in Egyptian art of carved or incised lotus borders of any kind, a
preference for flat ornament in colour being the rule. Stone carved
patterns of any kind in Egyptian art are quite rare before the
Ptolemaic period. In Greek art the absence of patterns in projected
carving is also a general rule down to the time of the Erechtheium.
In Greek art also colour decoration on flat surfaces was the rule in
architecture for earlier periods; for example, a leaf-and-dart pattern
was painted on a Doric capital in Ægina.[90]

      [90] W. H. Goodyear, “Origin of the Acanthus motive and
      Egg-and-Dart Moulding,” _The Architectural Record_, iv., 1894,
      p. 88.

“The Ionic capital, the ‘honey-suckle,’ the egg-and-dart moulding, the
meander, the various forms of spiral ornament, the guilloche and the
rosette, and some few other motives, belong to one ornamental system,
and have never been used in Europe, apart from historic connections
with their original system, since the Greeks, and have never been used
in Europe since prehistoric ages, without distinct dependance on
the Greeks. As found with the Greeks they can all be traced back to
Egyptian sources; except the guilloche, which is only the later variant
of the spiral scroll. The guilloche pattern has been found in Egypt on
pottery dated to the Twelfth Dynasty (2700 B.C.), which was probably
made by foreigners resident in the country, but it may easily be an
Egyptian pattern which has not yet been specified as such.

“The Egyptian rosette can be dated to the Fourth Dynasty, 3998-3721
B.C. Since that time its history has been continuous. Since its first
transmission to Europe it has never been reinvented in Europe, for
there was never an occasion or a chance to reinvent it there.

“The spiral scroll is dated to the Fifth Dynasty, and the meander (at
present) to the Thirteenth Dynasty, about 2500-2000 B.C. The Egyptian
Ionic capital is dated to the Eighteenth Dynasty, 1587-1327 B.C. The
Egyptian anthemion (‘honey-suckle’ original) is dated to the Twelfth
Dynasty (2778-2565 B.C.). A considerably higher antiquity than the
given date must be assumed in all cases.”[91]

      [91] W. H. Goodyear, “Are Conventional Patterns Spontaneously
      Generated,” _The Architectural Record_, ii., 1893, p. 291.

This in brief is Professor Goodyear’s theory;[92] it is ingenious,
but time will show how far it will convince students of this subject.
It is quite possible that the egg-and-dart pattern may have had a
multiple origin. Dr. Colley March is still inclined to see in it a
kind of artistic reminiscence of the ends of beams (Plate V., Fig.
1) of earlier wooden buildings; but it is highly improbable that
the conclusion arrived at by Mr. Hulme is the correct one. He says:
“The echinus, or horse-chestnut, is also called the egg-and-tongue
or egg-and-dart moulding, a variety of names that may be taken as
conclusive of the fact that it bears no great resemblance to anything
at all, but is a purely arbitrary form.”[93] The variety of names is
conclusive only of the ignorance of the name-givers as to what the
pattern originated from. In future those who write on decorative art
will have to prove that any pattern or design is a purely arbitrary
form; that assumption is no longer permissible.

      [92] Prof. Goodyear acknowledges (_Grammar of Lotus_) that P.
      E. Newberry had independently arrived at a similar conclusion
      in 1885, and that Owen Jones in 1856 and Léon de Vesley in 1870
      had suggested a lotus original for the egg-and-dart pattern.

      [93] F. E. Hulme, _The Birth and Development of Ornament_,
      1893, p. 86.

We have left the lotus far behind, and though it is hard to believe
that the multitudinous designs of so many ages and of such diverse
countries are all derived from the sacred flower of Ancient Egypt, yet
it may well be that the oldest stock was a lotus derivative, and that
the symbolism of that flower gave to it sufficient vitality to spread
and multiply and replenish the earth.

C. _Zoomorphs._

It is a matter of common observation that our children very early
take delight in pictures of animals and in making delineations of
them. It is further noticeable that the quality of the drawing makes
no difference to children, and they are as pleased with the crudest
representation of an animal as their elders are with a life-like
portrait. In all this the child closely resembles the folk, whether
they be the backward classes among ourselves or the less advanced
peoples. All these agree in being satisfied with diagrammatic realism.

Savages, however, vary greatly in their power of representing animal
forms. In Fig. 3 we have a number of outlines of animals which were
etched on bamboo pipes or carved on wooden drums by the Papuan natives
of the islands of Torres Straits or of the adjacent coast of New
Guinea. The figures are all reduced to the same scale by photography
from tracings of the original delineations, and are therefore faithful
copies of the originals. A glance at the figure will show that the
animals are drawn with a very fair degree of accuracy, so that in
most cases it is perfectly easy to identify the genus of the animal
intended. There are numerous little touches which appeal to the eye
of the naturalist as indicating keen observation on the part of the
artists; for example, the sharks (C, D) are always drawn with unequally
lobed tails, the tail of the dugong (M) is accurately rendered; several
characteristic details are, as a rule, well brought out in the drawings
of the cassowaries (K). On the other hand, there are several anatomical
mistakes, as for instance, giving shark-like gill-slits to a bony-fish,
or even to a crocodile. The mouth is represented in a sucker-fish
(F) as being on the upper side of the head, whereas it should be
underneath, and the view of that fish’s tail would be impossible from
that particular point of view; but these and numerous other similar
examples which I could name are merely due to a desire to express
several salient features, without regard to the possibility of their
being all seen at once. The artists’ aim was to give a recognisable
representation of animals, and in this they have as a rule succeeded
perfectly; it is captious to expect more from them.

On other parts of the mainland of New Guinea one rarely meets with
representations so life-like as these,[94] and nowhere else on that
largest of islands are so many kinds of animals drawn. Animals are
often depicted by the Australians, but usually these are very poor as
works of art; they are also employed in pictography.

      [94] O. Schellong, “Notizen über das Zeichnen der Melanesier,”
      _Internat. Arch. für Ethnogr._, viii., 1895, p. 57. (Plates
      VIII., IX.) A. C. Haddon, _The Decorative Art of British New

Although animals are so frequently drawn by the Torres Straits
Islanders, they never arrange them in groups or in series. They are
pictures of individuals, drawn for decorative effect, but they have no
story to tell. The only exception to this rule occurs in the case of
certain animals, two of which are sometimes placed symmetrically on
the decorated object.

Representations of animals are not uncommon in Melanesia, but they
are distinctly of rare occurrence in Polynesia. They occur in
great profusion in America from north to south, but here they are
predominantly religious or pictographic in significance. Animal forms
are not characteristic of African art, except among the Bushmen, and
there we find pictures of animals which are comparable with those of
the Eskimo or the natives of Torres Straits.

As far back as the time when men hunted the reindeer and wild horse in
Western Europe do we find drawings of animals. This was at the time
period when the glacial cold was abating and when men lived in caves,
used chipped, unpolished stone implements, and were unacquainted with
pottery. In archæological nomenclature this is known as the Epoque
Magdalénienne of the Cave Period in the Palæolithic Age. The figures
of the mammoth, reindeer, horse (Fig. 90), etc., are usually cleverly
etched on bone or ivory, and sometimes they are wonderfully life-like
and accurate; the representation of human beings are as a rule very
weak indeed.

[Illustration: FIG. 90.—Horses etched on an antler from La Madelaine;
from Taylor.]

“The wild horse roamed in immense herds over Europe, and formed the
chief food of the palæolithic hunters. In some of the caverns in
France the remains of the horse are more abundant than those of any
other animal, more even than those of the wild ox. Thus at Solutré,
near Macon, the bones of horses, which had formed the food of the
inhabitants of this station, form a deposit nearly 10 feet in depth
and more than 300 feet in length, the number of skeletons represented
being estimated at from 20,000 to 40,000. This primitive horse was
a diminutive animal, not much larger than an ass, standing about 13
hands high, the largest specimens not exceeding 14 hands. But the
head was of disproportionate size, and the teeth were very powerful.
He resembles the tarpan or wild horse of the Caspian steppes. A
spirited representation of two of these wild horses is engraved on an
antler found at the station of La Madelaine in the Department of the

      [95] Isaac Taylor, _The Origin of the Aryans_, p. 158.

It is impossible for me to do more than just touch on the subject
of the relation of animals to decorative and pictorial art; the few
examples I can offer will, however, demonstrate its importance.

Wherever it occurs the crocodile or the alligator, as the case may
be, almost invariably finds its way into the decorative art of the
district. From north to south the crocodile asserts itself in the
decorative art of New Guinea; for further information the reader is
referred to Dr. Uhle,[96] who has made an elaborate study of the
crocodile in Malayo-Papuan art, has noted the strange metamorphoses to
which it is subjected in north-west New Guinea; he also draws attention
to the cult of the reptile in these parts. The belief of a relationship
between the crocodile and man occurs among the Malays of Sumatra,
Batta, Java, Makassar and the Bugis, Tagals, in Banka, Timor, Bouru,
Aru, and the south-western islands. The Javanese have no fear of the
crocodile when bathing, they believe that their “grandfathers” and
“fathers” could do them no harm. The crocodile is reverenced in Borneo
and killed only when the blood-revenge demands it; their teeth are
used as talismans all over the island. The inhabitants of Kupang and
Timor have an unconquerable fear of the killing of crocodiles and pray
by dead ones. Even the Malays (Hovas) of Madagascar are afraid to kill
crocodiles, since they would revenge themselves.

      [96] M. Uhle, “Holz- und Bambus-Geräthe aus N.W. Neu Guinea,”
      _K. Eth. Mus., Dresden_, vi., 1886, p. 6.

From Melanesia we will pass to Central America and take advantage of
Mr. W. H. Holmes’s masterly study of the ancient art of the province of
Chiriqui in the Isthmus of Panama.[97]

      [97] W. H. Holmes, “Ancient Art of the Province of Chiriqui,
      Colombia,” _Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_,
      1884-85. Washington, 1888.

Wherever it occurs, the crocodile or the alligator, as the case may
be, almost invariably finds its way into the decorative art of the
district. From north to south the crocodile asserts itself in the
decorative art of New Guinea; and, although associated with other
animals, the alligator predominates among the zoomorphs of the Chiriqui.

[Illustration: FIG. 91.—Conventional alligator from the “lost colour”
ware of Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

In Fig. 91, we have a highly conventionalised representation of an
alligator. The scutes (or scales) are represented by spotted triangles
and run along the entire length of the back; a row of dashes in the
mouth indicates the teeth.

In another class of ware the treatment is quite different, more clumsy,
but prominence is given to a number of corresponding features; the
strong curve of the back, the triangles, dots, the muzzle, and mouth.
In Fig. 92 all the leading features are recognisable, but are very much
simplified, and the body is without indication of scales, the head is
without eyes, the jaws are without teeth, and the upward curve of the
tip of the upper jaw in the last figure is greatly exaggerated, but
this is a common feature in these representations.

[Illustration: FIG. 92.—Simplified figure of an alligator from the
“alligator” ware of Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

The spaces to be decorated also largely determine the lines of
modification. In Fig. 93 we have an example crowding an elongated
figure into a short rectangular space. The head is turned back over the
body, the sunken curve of the back is enormously exaggerated, and the
tail is thrown down along the side of the panel.

[Illustration: FIG. 93.—Alligator design, Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

It often happens that the animal form, literally rendered, does not
fill the panels satisfactorily. The head and tail do not correspond,
and there is a lack of balance. In such cases, as Mr. Holmes points
out, two heads have been preferred. The body is given a uniform
double curve and the heads are turned down, as in Fig. 94. This figure
“is extremely interesting on account of its complexity and the novel
treatment of the various features. The two feet are placed close
together near the middle of the curved body, and on either side of
these are the under jaws turned back and armed with dental projections
for teeth. The characteristic scale symbols occur at intervals along
the back; and very curiously at one place, where there is scant room,
simple dots are employed, showing the identity of these two characters.
Some curious auxiliary devices, the origin of which is obscure, are
used to fill in marginal spaces.” Judging from some of the figures
in Fig. 100 we may regard the upper supplementary device as another
alligator derivative.

[Illustration: FIG. 94.—Alligator delineation, greatly modified,
Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

Fig. 95 is an extreme form of conventionalised alligator which has
become metamorphosed into an apparently meaningless design which is
intended to be symmetrical.

[Illustration: FIG. 95.—Highly conventionalised alligator derivative,
Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

In Fig. 96 we have a series showing the degeneration of the alligator
into a curved line and a spot. The series shown in Fig. 97 illustrate
the tendency of linear bands not only to cramp the original in a
vertical direction, but to force it into a serial pattern. Fig. 97, A,
is a simplification of such a two-headed form as Fig. 94. One might be
tempted to regard it as a doubly tailed form, but such do not appear to
have been recognised by Mr. Holmes. The transition from this undoubted
alligator derivative to the broad chevron of Fig. 97, E, is quite
obvious, the conventional scutes, dotted triangles, together with the
zigzag body alone forming the pattern, and in Fig. 97, F, the latter
has disappeared. Mr. Holmes states “there is little doubt that the
series continues further, ending with simple curved lines and even with
straight lines unaccompanied by auxiliary devices.”

[Illustration: FIG. 96.—Series of derivatives of the alligator, showing
stages of simplification, Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

[Illustration: FIG. 97.—Series of alligator derivatives, showing
modification through use in narrow zones, Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

Mr. Holmes also points out that the Chiriqui have arrived at the
scroll and fret by way of the alligator. I can here illustrate only
two of these (Figs. 98, 99); in these the body of the reptile is the
element of the design. In other cases Mr. Holmes finds that parts of
the creature, such as head, feet, eye, or scales, assume the role of
radicles, and pass through a series of modification ending in purely
geometrical devices.

[Illustration: FIG. 98.—Scroll derived from the body-line of the
alligator, Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

[Illustration: FIG. 99.—Fret derived from the body-line of the
alligator, Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

The designs in Fig. 100 are painted upon low rounded prominences on
vases, and hence are enclosed in circles. In Fig. 100, A, the alligator
is coiled up, but still preserves some of the well-known characters
of that reptile. In B, we have the double hook modification of the
alligator’s body, but the triangles are placed separately against the
encircling line. In the next figure the body-line is omitted, and three
dotted scutes alone represent the animal. The four scutes of the next
designs assume a symmetrical position, and the central crossed line may
represent the alligator’s body. In the last figure of this series the
cross has become the predominating feature, and the spots have migrated
into it, so that the triangles have become mere interspaces.

[Illustration: FIG. 100.—Series of alligator derivatives, showing
modification through use within a circular area, Chiriqui; after

Finally, Fig. 101 is a zone pattern, painted on an earthen drum, the
central zigzag line represents the body of the alligator, and the
notched hooks its extremities; these are here arranged with perfect
regularity, but sometimes only the latter occur in patterns, and then
they are often somewhat irregularly disposed.

[Illustration: FIG. 101.—Pattern composed of alligator derivatives,
from a clay drum painted in the style of the “lost colour group,”
Chiriqui; after Holmes.]

From his prolonged study of ancient American art, Mr. Holmes formulates
the following generalisation:—“The agencies of modification inherent
in the art in its practice are such that any particular animal form
extensively employed in decoration is capable of changing into or
giving rise to any or to all of the highly conventional decorative
devices upon which our leading ornaments, such as the meander, the
scroll, the fret, the chevron, and the guilloche, are based” (p.
187). The importance of the following conclusion is obvious:—“We are
absolutely certain that no race, no art, no motive or element in
nature or in art can claim the exclusive origination of any one of
the well-known or standard conventional devices, and that any race,
art, or individual motive is capable of giving rise to any and to
all such devices. Nothing can be more absurd than to suppose that
the signification or symbolism attaching to a given form is uniform
the world over, as the ideas associated with each must vary with the
channels through which they were developed” (p. 183).

The investigations of Dr. P. Ehrenreich and Professor Karl von den
Steinen on the decorative art of various tribes in Central Brazil have
led to results which may, without exaggeration, be termed startling.
The patterns employed by these people typically belong to the class
which is popularly described as geometrical. On page 176 I have
selected examples of these patterns which will give a fair idea of the
style of design.

Dr. Ehrenreich[98] informs us that in the Bakaïri chiefs’ huts a frieze
of blackened bark tablets run along the wall which are painted in
white clay with very characteristic figures and patterns of fish. All
the geometric figures are in reality diagrammatic representations of
concrete objects, mostly animals. “Thus a wavy line with alternating
spots denotes a large, dark-spotted colossal snake, the Anaconda
(_Eunectes murinus_); a rhomboidal mark signifies a lagoon-fish,
whereas a triangle does not by any means indicate that simple
geometrical figure, but the small, three-cornered article of women’s
clothing” (p. 98).

      [98] “Mittheilungen über die zweite Xingu-Expedition in
      Brasilien,” _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_, xxii., 1890, p. 89.

The following quotation is also translated from Dr.
Ehrenreich[99]:—“The ornaments of the Karaya consist of patterns
of zigzag lines, crosses, dots, lozenges, and peculiar interrupted
meanders, whereas the quadrate and triangle occur only incidentally
(that is, owing to the filling up of other figures), and circles are
entirely absent. As in the ornamentation of the Xingus tribes, so also
here occur those apparently entirely arbitrary geometrical combinations
fundamentally of wholly defined concrete presentments, of which the
most characteristic traits are therein reproduced. Unfortunately it
is not always possible to correctly ascertain the respective natural
objects. The frequently occurring cross (Fig. 102, A), which in
America has so often given occasion for amusing hypotheses, is here
nothing but a kind of lizard.... Also peculiarly characteristic are
the extensive wings of a bat (Fig. 102, B), as well as the frequently
occurring snake pattern, such as Fig. 102, C, which represents the
rattlesnake, while another snake is represented in Fig. 102, D.
Accurate representations of men and animals, as we know them to be
done so excellently by the Bushmen and Eskimo, do not appear to be
forthcoming among the Karaya.”

      [99] “Beiträge zur Völkerkunde Brasiliens,” _Veröffentlichungen
      aus dem königlichen Museum für Völkerkunde_, Berlin, ii., 1891,
      pp. 24, 25.

[Illustration: FIG. 102.—Patterns of the Karaya, Central Brazil; after
Ehrenreich. A. Lizards; B. Flying bats; C. A rattlesnake; D. A snake.
A. Incised on a grave-post; B, C, D. Plaited on the handles of combs.]

Professor von den Steinen[100] describes the above-mentioned frieze
more fully. The pieces of bark, which were from 15 cm. to 40 cm. (6 to
16 inches) broad, were blackened with soot, and the white or yellowish
lime applied with the fingers. The frieze itself was over 56 m. (over
184 feet) in length.

      [100] _Unter den Naturvölkern Zentral-Brasiliens:
      Reiseschilderung und Ergebnisse der Zweiten
      Schingú-Expedition_, 1887-88. Berlin, 1894.

I would ask the reader to refer back to Fig. 52, p. 97, although this
motive is not a zoomorph, in order to show that triangular designs, or
resulting zigzags, may have various origins.

Only one tablet represented a plant. (Fig. 69.) It indicates the leaves
of a small “cabbage”-bearing wild palm.

The bulk of the motives for the decorative art of these people, the
Schingú tribes (the Xingu tribes of Ehrenreich), are drawn from the
animal world; Fig. 103 A, H, I, K, are Bakaïri patterns, and Figs. 103
B-F those of the Auetö.

The pattern to the right in Fig. 103, H, indicates a kind of ray, the
characteristic rings and dots which ornament the skin of this fish are
here represented.

[Illustration: FIG. 103.—Patterns from Central Brazil, after Von den
Steinen. A. Bakaïri paddle; B-E. _Mereschu_ (fish) patterns of the
Auetö; F. Locust design, Bakaïri; G. Fish-shaped bull-roarer, Nahuquá;
H. _Sukuri_ (snake) and ray patterns; I. _Jiboya_ (snake); K. _Agau_
(snake); H-I. Bakaïri tribe.]

Common to all the tribes of the Schingú stock is the employment of
conventionalised representations of the _mereschu_. This is a small
compressed lagoon-fish, about 19 cm. (7½ inches) long, and 9.5 cm.
(3¾ inches) deep; its colour is silver-grey with brown spots. The
_mereschu_ belongs to the genus Serrasalmo or Myletes; the figure on
p. 260, given by Von den Steinen, looks as if it were drawn from a
badly-preserved spirit specimen, and one fails to see how Fig. 103,
C, for example, could by any stretch of the imagination be considered
to suggest that fish. On p. 613 of Dr. Günther’s _Introduction to the
Study of Fishes_ (Edinburgh, 1880) is an outline figure of _Serrasalmo
scapularis_; the contour of this fish is approximately rhomboidal, the
head, the dorsal fin, and the tail fin occupy three of its angles, and
the anal fin practically runs up to the fourth angle. Von den Steinen
points out that in most cases representations of these animal-forms
are incisions, not paintings, and the diagrammatic rendering of curved
lines by angles is due to this fact. The patterns which I am about to
describe are common to numerous allied tribes, and everywhere these
patterns bear the name by which this kind of fish is locally known.

Sometimes the _mereschu_ fish is employed singly, but most frequently
a number of them are evenly distributed over the decorated surface,
and between the fishes single, double, or even several lines may be
drawn, as in Fig. 103, B, C, E; these latter represent the net by means
of which these fish are caught. Thus we may have a fish-pattern or a
fishes-in-net pattern. These patterns are delineated on masks, posts,
spinning-whorls, and other objects. Fig. 103, B, is a pattern of the
_mereschu_ fishes-in-net group, but the fishes themselves are entirely
filled up with black, and not their angles only.

The Auetö pattern drawn in Fig. 103, F, is intended for a mailed- or

On a Bakaïri paddle (Fig. 103, A) are incised four circles, which
are the ring-markings of a ray, _pinukái_, on the other side of
a transverse line follow two _mereschu_ in the meshes of a net,
then a _pakú_, and finally several _kuómi_ fish. Professor von den
Steinen believes that the object of this decoration is simply to
bring fish close to the paddle. “But it is extremely instructive to
see,” he continues,[101] “that concerning these scribblings, though
they certainly do not denote anything in their order of arrangement,
consequently are not picture-writing; however, every single one is
by no means a casual flourish, but the diagram of a well-defined
object, and consequently, in fact, represents _the element of a

      [101] _Loc. cit._, p. 269.

Zigzags and waved lines are snakes. Fig. 103, K, represents common
land-snake, the _agau_, or cobra of Brazil; to the left is the tail,
the head is simply rendered, and as the skin of the snake is marked the
artist characterised it by adding spots. Very similar is the _sukuri_
water-snake or anaconda (_Boa scytale_), drawn to the left of Fig. 103,
H. A boa-constrictor is indicated in Fig. 103, I; the row of diamonds
left on the dark background, between the two rows of triangles,
represents the marking of the snake’s skin. The larger terminal diamond
to the left is probably the boa’s head. A snake is also painted on a
Nahuquá bull-roarer (Fig. 103, G).

[Illustration: FIG. 104.—Patterns derived from bats; after Von den
Steinen. A. Bakaïri; B, C. Auetö.]

We have seen that rows of horizontal triangles are _uluris_, women’s
triangles, but when they are margined above by a line, as in Fig. 104,
B, they are bats; but rows of triangles vertically disposed, as in Fig.
104, C, are hanging bats; Fig. 104, A, is also a bat device.

Another triangular ornament (Fig. 105) represents small birds, called
by the Bakaïri natives _yaritamáze_, that is, they are a particular
kind of bird, not birds in general.

Finally, one would naturally consider that the ornament engraved on
the post, Fig. 103, D, is simply the favourite _mereschu_ pattern; but
Von den Steinen assures us that the central design is not composed
of _mereschu_, in which the angles are only slightly filled up, but
that it is a locust, the lines arising from the angles of the lozenge
being the legs. This locust pattern is, however, associated with true
_mereschus_, which may be seen between the legs of the locust.

[Illustration: FIG. 105.—Bird design, Bakaïri, Central Brazil; after
Von den Steinen.]

In Europe and in our own country we can study analogous transformations.

More or less recognisable animals break out, as it were into scrolls
and floral devices, as on Samian vases (Plate VI., Fig. 1), on Gaulish
swords (Fig. 2), on Pompeian walls (Fig. 3), and on the gold ornaments
of Tuscany (Fig. 5). In Fig. 4, Plate VI., we have on an ancient pot
from New Mexico a decorative treatment of birds which recalls that of
the mural paintings of Pompeii.

Often in Greece and Italy symmetrical scrolls are associated with a
head. (Plate VI., Fig. 6.) The scrolls themselves may, in some cases, be an
animal form which has ended in a flourish, as is taking place in Plate
VI., Fig. 5; or in others they may be the remnants of plant motive.

Dr. Colley March calls attention to old bench-ends of English churches,
notably those in Cornwall, which are frequently surmounted by a
crouching quadruped; at a later period this appears to be converted
into a single scroll like that which adorned the old pews in Ormskirk
Church. (Plate VI., Fig. 7.)

An ancient silver plate (Plate VI., Fig. 8), found in a tumulus at
Largo, Fifeshire, is decorated with the distorted fore-half of an
animal. The transformation is advanced to flamboyant curves in the
zoomorph of the Dunnichen Stone (Plate VI., Fig. 9); but the head and
ear and legs can still be distinguished. It is not quite certain what
animal this is intended to represent. Earl Southesk[102] believes it
to be the horse, which was sacred to Frey, and is a special symbol of
the sun. The second figure is very remarkable, but it seems to be an
extreme and foliated form of the same zoomorph.

      [102] _Origins of Pictish Symbolism_, 1893.

There are numerous examples of linear series of animals in the early
art of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and other artistic centres, but these
do not appear to have developed into patterns, possibly because the
units were readily recognisable, on the other hand, serially repeated
conventionalised zoomorphs frequently metamorphose into patterns. These
patterns by repeated copying tend to become simplified till finally not
only is all trace of the original long lost, but the resultant pattern
may so resemble other simple patterns as to be indistinguishable
from them. This may easily lead to confusion and cause the designs
to be classed as one. We thus come to the conclusion that before any
pattern can be termed the same as another, its life-history must be
studied, otherwise analogy may be confused with homology, and false
relationships erected. Things which are similar are not necessarily the

At the extreme south-east end of New Guinea and in the adjacent
archipelago the most frequent designs are beautiful scroll patterns,
which are subject to many variations. I have already[103] described
many of these, and so there is no need to again repeat what I
have said, except to remind the reader that all these patterns
are variations of serially repeated conventionalised heads of the
frigate-bird. I shall again allude to this bird when I deal with the
relation of religion to art.

      [103] Pp. 49-56, and at greater length in my Memoir on the
      Decorative Art of British New Guinea.

In the same district one occasionally meets with a pattern (Fig.
106) which in some respects resembles the former and appears in some
cases to have been confounded with it. This one clearly arises
from the serial repetition of conventionalised heads of crocodiles.
The illustration is part of the carved rim of a wooden bowl in my
possession, which probably came from the Trobriands or the Woodlarks.
The triangles above the crocodiles’ snouts are coloured black, those
bounded by their jaws are painted red.

There is yet another method of representing animals which consists in
grouping them so as to tell a story, or, in other words, to make a

[Illustration: FIG. 106.—Rubbing of part of the carved rim of a wooden
bowl in the author’s collection. Probably from the Woodlarks or
Trobriands, British New Guinea. One third natural size.]

Grouped animals rarely occur by themselves in decorative art; men,
houses, implements, and even vegetation are frequently associated
with them. The Arctic peoples, such as the Lapps, Eskimo, etc.,
greatly affect this form of art. The bulk of these pictures are
representations of hunting scenes, and many incidents in the lives of
these hyperboreans are depicted on bone and ivory. There is reason
for regarding these as records of particular events (cf. p. 207); but
they are also very useful to us as illustrations of native life and
industry. Animals are sometimes drawn foreshortened, and confused herds
of reindeer are often figured; but the grouping is mainly linear,
without effects of perspective being attempted.

This kind of art is extremely rare amongst savage peoples, in fact
its presence may be regarded as one of the proofs that the people
practising it have passed from a purely savage condition, and have made
some advance towards civilisation. It has reached its highest point in
the works of the great animal painters of the present day, and thus has
been one of the last forms of graphic art to be perfected.

As a general rule the inferior representations of animals in groups,
and of animal pictures generally, are not due to the process of
decay. They are the bad workmanship of inferior craftsmen. It is the
imperfection of immaturity, not the symptom of decadence.

The last stage of the life-cycle of this class of zoomorphs occurs when
incompetent draughtsmen copy the work of a master; when, for example,
we see on the walls of country inns cheap and badly-drawn copies of
Landseer’s pictures.

Animals also play a large part in mythology, and it is often very
difficult to determine the limits of totemism in this direction.
There are, however, numberless instances of legendary communications
and relationships, of friendliness and enmity between animals and
men, which have no connection with totemism, and these often form the
subject of decorative art. Sometimes the animal alone is represented,
at other times both man and animal are depicted, and according to
their artistic treatment we may have pictures, or should the zoomorph
and anthropomorph be rendered schematically, heteromorphism may
result. At present we have to deal with representations of animals
which illustrate some belief, myth, or folk-tale. The sacred art of
the Hebrews was almost free from zoomorphs, and that of Islam totally
so; with these exceptions there has scarcely been a religion in which
zoomorphs have not played a greater or less part.

I need only remind the reader of the numerous examples in which
animals are depicted in illustration of, or as a kind of mnemonic
of a folk-tale, a legend, or myth, and of some sacred tradition or
belief. There are so many intermediate stages between these different
phases that it is often impossible to draw the line between them. The
religious belief, with its sacred tradition of one age, becomes the
myth or the legend of a later period, subsequently it is perpetuated
as a folk-tale; later it may serve to amuse children, and lastly it
becomes the object of scientific study.

What I have termed the æsthetic life-history may occur to the zoomorph
at any or all of these stages of religious decadence. There is no
correlation between an extreme or medium phase in the æsthetic cycle
and a corresponding stage in the religious series. To take a homely
example, the illustrations of the most recently published fairy-tales
are as a whole of greater artistic merit than has been the average
illustration of sacred narratives during any period of the world’s

D. _Anthropomorphs._

As a general rule, savages are less skilful in the delineation of the
human form than they are with representations of animals, nor is it
usually employed so frequently as might be expected.

It is for religious purposes that the human form is most frequently
represented, and I refer the reader to the section in which religion
is dealt with for illustrations of this fact. I employ the term “human
form” advisedly, as this includes the images of both gods and men. At
one stage of its evolution in the human mind, deity, like the Spectre
of Brocken, is the shadowy image of man projected on the clouds. So
the gods are most naturally represented as men, but often with special
attributes. Now, these attributes are worthy of special study as being
the milestones which indicate the distance which any given religious
conception has traversed.

In the distant vista of time we can dimly perceive the transformation
of the totem animal into the god. In the highest period of Greek
sculpture the evolution was, for example, perfected in “ox-eyed lady
Hera,” consort of Olympian Zeus, and in the Cnidian statue of Demeter,
“Mother-Earth,” whose archaic representation was a wooden image of a
woman with a mare’s head and mane. For thousands of years the Egyptian
pantheon was peopled by gods arrested in the process—gorgonised
tadpoles of divinity. Still earlier stages may even now be noted among
savage peoples.

I know of no example of the preponderating employment of the human face
for decorative purposes to be compared with what I have established for
the natives of the Papuan Gulf. Illustrations of this will be found in
Figs. 10-19, and in my Memoir on Papuan Art, but only an examination of
a large number of objects from this district of British New Guinea will
bring home to the student the remarkable ubiquity of the motive. We
have no information concerning the reason for copying human faces; my
impression is that it is related to the initiation ceremonies, which we
know from the accounts of the Rev. James Chalmers to be very prolonged
and important. One would expect to find more animal representations
among these people than appear on objects in our ethnographical
collections. Possibly these people are passing from the totemistic
into the anthropomorphic phase of religion, and the latter finds most
expression in their art. However, such speculations are futile until
we obtain far more detailed and extended information of their religion
than we at present possess.

Human beings are comparatively rarely represented merely for decorative
purposes. In pictographs they have no predominating position. But when
we come to portraiture the matter is very different; here we have an
adequate motive for the delineation of the human form and face; it is,
however, very noteworthy that portraiture, as such, only occurs amongst
civilised communities. Possibly the explanation of this may be found
in the widespread savage philosophy of sympathetic magic. According to
this system a portrait has a very vital connection with the subject,
and any damage done to the counterfeit would be experienced by the
original. Portraiture then would be too hazardous to health, or even
life, to be lightly undertaken.

What we have seen happening to plants and animals is also the fate of
men in decorative art. A few examples here will suffice.

New Zealand is one of the places where anthropomorphs abound, due in
this case to ancestor cult. The short series of three clubs (Plate
VI., Figs. 10-12) illustrates the metamorphosis of the limbs into
curvilinear forms. In dealing with the religion of Polynesia I give
examples (Figs. 124-128) of the degradation of the human form into
“geometrical” patterns.

In the various illustrations which have been given representations of
the human form may be isolated, as in Melanesia (Fig. 3, O), Mangaia
(Fig. 124), and New Zealand (Plate VI., Figs. 10, 12), or they may be
double; for example, one frequently finds in Polynesia two god-figures
placed back to back, and these may strangely degenerate, as in the
examples given by Stolpe[104] and Read.[105] Human forms placed in
linear series are frequent in Mangaian wood-carving (Figs. 127 and 125,
A). Fig. 126 illustrates the decoration of a broader area.

      [104] H. Stolpe, _Evolution in the Ornamental Art of Savage
      Peoples_. Figs. 3, 34.

      [105] C. H. Read, “On the Origin and Sacred Character of
      certain Ornaments of the S.E. Pacific,” _Journ. Anth. Inst._,
      xxi., 1891, Plate XII.

We get examples of the selection of one portion of the man in the face
patterns of the Papuan Gulf. (Figs. 10-19.)

These are undoubtedly conscious selections from the very commencement,
but we find various parts of the body come to be perpetuated, with the
elimination of the remainder, owing to differing causes.

The reason for the simplification of the body and the disappearance of
the head in the Mangaian art is probably partly due to the fact that
savage peoples are usually quite content with suggestions of objects,
they do not demand what we term realism. By conventionalising their
representations the Mangaians were better able to multiply them, and at
the same time to appropriately decorate the object with which they were
concerned. It could not be with a view of economising time or labour.
“Time,” as Stolpe says, “is for them of no importance, they have plenty
of it, and usually they are not able even to reckon it.” Judging by the
skill exhibited by these clever carvers in wood, we cannot put down the
simplification of the human body to careless copying.

We have seen that the face may be represented to the exclusion of any
other part of the body, but there are examples of parts of the face
becoming predominant.

Professor Moseley[106] was, I believe, the first to indicate the
evolution which occurred in the images of gods in the Hawaian group.
In some instances the hollow crescent form, which came to represent a
face, seems to have been arrived at by an enormous increase in the size
of the mouth; in others, as in the case of some wicker images, by a
hollowing out of the face altogether; the mouth in the latter, though
large, not being widened so as to encroach upon the whole area of the
face. Since, in the worship of the gods, food was placed in the mouths,
the mouths may have been gradually enlarged as the development of the
religion proceeded, in order to contain larger and larger offerings,
and the head in the wicker-work image may have been hollowed out for
a similar purpose. Moseley traced the degeneration of the human (or
god’s) face down to a hook-shaped ornament cut out of a sperm whale’s

      [106] H. N. Moseley, _Notes by a Naturalist on the
      “Challenger_,” 1879, pp. 504-511.

Some of the carvings of the human face from New Zealand bear a general
resemblance to those from Hawaii; but a very noticeable feature in
the art of the former island is the protruding tongue. The most
interesting development of this member occurs in the Maori _hani_, or
staff of office. At the upper end is what appears, at first sight, to
be a spear-point. “This portion, however, does not serve the purpose
of offence, but is simply a conventional representation of the human
tongue, which, when thrust forth to its utmost conveys, according to
Maori ideas, the most bitter insult and defiance. When the chief wishes
to make war against any tribe, he calls his own people together, makes
a fiery oration, and repeatedly thrusts his _hani_ in the direction of
the enemy, each such thrust being accepted as a putting forth of the
tongue in defiance. In order to show that the point of the _hani_ is
really intended to represent the human tongue, the remainder of it is
carved into a grotesque and far-fetched resemblance of the human face,
the chief features of which are two enormous circular eyes made of
haliotis shell.”[107]

      [107] J. G. Wood, _The Natural History of Man_, ii., 1870,
      p. 161.

My friend, S. Tsuboi, has made a special study[108] of the protruding
tongue in New Zealand art. He gives illustrations of thirty-one
specimens, and with characteristic Japanese ingenuity he has drawn
figures of half-a-dozen models which he has constructed which
illustrate the various possible variations, and the lines they may
have taken. He has also made numerical tables of possible varieties.
I allude to, this paper in order to draw the attention of students to
graphic methods. I regret that my ignorance of the Japanese language
precludes my giving the results of this investigation.

      [108] S. Tsuboi, “On the Degeneration of Tongue-thrusting
      Figures in New Zealand Carvings,” _Tōyō Gakugei Zasshi_
      (_Oriental Scientific Magazine_), No. 112, Jan. 25th, 1891.

In Ancient Egypt the eye was symbolic, and numberless amulets are
found which exhibit one, two, or numerous eyes in varying stages of
degeneracy, or in strange modifications. These, too, have been studied
and described by Tsuboi.[109]

      [109] _Oriental Scientific Magazine_, Nov. 25th, 1889.

E. _Biomorphic Pottery._

In the description of the primitive methods of pottery manufacture,
allusion was made to the fact that vegetable and animal forms were
copied by the early artificers.

Although the immediate originals of many kinds of clay vessels were
baskets of various kinds, we must not forget that these also were often
textile imitations of natural objects. Gourds which are of almost
ubiquitous occurrence undoubtedly were early and independently utilised
as vessels. For the more convenient porterage of them they would be
enclosed in netting or basketry. The better the accessories became, the
less need for the original foundations, especially as the latter were
brittle. From the fact that the shape of certain baskets in a district
resemble those of the gourds of that district, we may assume that this
process of evolution has operated spontaneously in diverse places. Clay
vessels which were modelled from the suggestion of such baskets would
thus remotely be phyllomorphs but having an intermediate skeuomorphic

Instead of this indirect mode of origin a more direct one has often
occurred. Messrs. Squier and Davis[110] record: “In some of the
southern states (of North America), it is said, the kilns, in which
the ancient pottery was baked, are now occasionally to be met with.
Some are represented still to contain the ware, partially burned, and
retaining the rinds of the gourds, etc., over which they were modelled,
and which had not been entirely removed by the fire.” They also state
that the Indians along the Gulf moulded their vessels “over gourds and
other models and baked them in ovens.”

      [110] Squier and Davis, _Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi
      Valley_, 1848, p. 195.

It is not necessary to believe that this has everywhere been the
original ceramic gourd-derivatives, even among savage peoples. Once
the power of working in clay was acquired, intentional copying of
gourds (Figs. 107, 108), or other vegetable vessels, may very well have
occurred. This is rendered all the more probable from the fact that
animal forms are modelled as earthen vessels. I am not here alluding
to figures of men or of totem, sacred, or familiar animals which may
belong to a somewhat higher stage of culture than that which we are now
more particularly considering; but to clay utensils which are copied
from receptacles which are the shells or other parts of animals.

[Illustration: FIG. 107.—Gourd; after Holmes.]

[Illustration: FIG. 108.—Clay vessel, made in imitation of a gourd,
from a mound in South-eastern Missouri; after Holmes.]

Wherever shells of sufficient size are found they are utilised as food
and water vessels, and there are numerous instances in various parts of
the world of vessels being modelled so as to represent the ancient and
familiar utensils.

[Illustration: FIG. 109.—Clay vessels imitated from shells, from the
mounds and graves of the Mississippi Valley; after Holmes.]

Clay vessels imitating both marine and fresh-water shells are
occasionally obtained from the mounds and graves of the Mississippi
Valley. The conch-shell appears to have been a favourite model
(Fig. 109, A and B). A clam shell is imitated in C and D. The more
conventional forms of these vessels are exceedingly interesting, as
they point out the tendencies and possibilities of modification. The
bowl (E) has four rosettes, each consisting of a large central boss
with four or five smaller ones surrounding it. The central boss, as in
a, is derived from the spire of the conch shell, and the encircling
knobs from the nodulated rim of the outer whorl of the shell. Mr.
Holmes suggests that in this case the conception is that of four conch
shells united in one vessel, the spouts being turned inwards and the
spires outwards. With all possible respect to Mr. Holmes, I venture
to demur to this interpretation. The fusion of elements which are
essentially isolated is rare amongst primitive peoples; it is difficult
to imagine how they could conceive of the structural union and fusion
of four conch shells. This is very different from the amalgamation
of the clay imitations of such vessels as gourds or coco-nuts, for
these are frequently fastened in pairs or in small groups to a common
string handle, and there is already the idea of multiplicity and the
apposition of the vessels. Again, Mr. Holmes does not present us with
any intermediate stages of this or similar clay vessels; until such
evidence is forthcoming it would be safer to regard this as an example
of transference. According to my interpretation, the rosette derived
from the spire of a conch shell was a pleasing motive, and it was
applied to and repeated upon a circular bowl, which may, as Mr. Holmes
elsewhere[111] suggests, be derived from the lower half of a gourd. A
single conch derivative would be entitled to one rosette only, and the
association of ideas would operate in favour of only one being moulded,
at all events until a very extreme stage of degeneration had been
attained; but in the case of transference there would be no continuity
of custom to control the potter, and consequently more scope could be
given to his fancy.

      [111] W. H. Holmes, “Pottery of the Ancient Pueblos,” _Fourth
      Annual Report Bureau of Ethnology_, p. 271.

A highly conventionalised form is shown in F (Fig. 109). The cup is
unsymmetrical in outline, and has a few imperfect bosses near one
corner, but its resemblance to a shell would hardly be recognised by
one unacquainted with more realistic renderings of similar subjects. In
G we have an imitation of a shell cup placed within a plain cup.

The skins, bladders, and stomachs of animals are very frequently
employed as water-carriers. The characteristic forms of these may often
be traced in the pottery of the same districts, odd details of form or
of surface marking usually persist to a surprising degree.

In Fiji and elsewhere the image of a turtle has been modelled in clay,
doubtless because the carapace is often used as a vessel.

While the use of an animal or the part of an animal as a vessel has
often led to the imitation of that animal in clay or other material,
owing to an association of ideas, we must be very careful not to run
to the extreme and to say that there was a primitively utilitarian
origin for all zoomorphic vessels. Sympathetic magic and religion are
responsible for many, and we must admit that mere fancy must sometimes
come into play, and when this is the case theorising is necessarily at

3. _Heteromorphs._

As previously stated, I propose to adopt the term Heteromorph for
a confusion with one another of two or more different skeuomorphs,
or with the amalgamation of any two or more biomorphs, or with the
combination of any skeuomorph with any biomorph. We may thus have (1)
Heteromorphs of skeuomorphs, (2) Heteromorphs of biomorphs, and (3)
Heteromorphs of skeuo-biomorphs.

To speak somewhat figuratively, heteromorphism is a sort of disease
that may attack the skeuomorph or the biomorph. Whereas the final term
of the life-history of the biomorph is, so to speak, senile decay, the
result of heteromorphism is a teratological transformation. Accepting
this view of the subject, the present section might be entitled “The
Pathology of Decorative Art.”

Any stage of the life-history of a biomorph, whether it is the
expression of decorative or religious art, is liable to be infected
by heteromorphism. The only section of graphic art which must from
the nature of the case be free from it is pictorial art. Where
heteromorphs are introduced into pictures they form one of the subjects
of those pictures, the picture itself is not subject to this modifying
influence; for example, the introduction of the representation of a
sphinx or a gryphon into a picture does not constitute the latter a

A. _Heteromorphs of Skeuomorphs._

The combination of two different kinds of skeuomorphs does not appear
to be of very frequent occurrence, or, at all events, we have not yet
trained ourselves to appreciate them.

In Fig. 50 we have an example, which, however, is not particularly
satisfactory. It will be noticed that various kinds of plaiting are
indicated on this Tongan club; as a matter of fact, if it had really
been covered with plaited work, the latter would have been uniform in
its character, although diverse patterns might have been worked into
it. If this club had been decorated in a consistent manner the simple
in-and-out plaiting of the broad band, as in the middle of the figure
to the left, could not occur along with the finer oblique plaiting in
other parts of the object.

B. _Heteromorphs of Biomorphs._

Wherever two or more animals or plants are represented in association
there is a tendency for them to amalgamate in process of time. I have
shown numerous examples of this in the bird and crocodile motive in
Papuan art, and it would be easy to multiply illustrations.

Heteromorphism is especially characteristic of that style of decoration
which we call arabesque, or grotesque. This is said to have been
the invention of a painter named Ludius in the reign of the Emperor
Augustus. That sovereign is said by Pliny to have been the first who
thought of covering whole walls with pictures and landscapes. The
fashion for the grotesque spread rapidly, for all the buildings of
about that date which have been found in good preservation afford
numerous and beautiful examples of it. Vitruvius was entirely out of
conceit with this sort of ornament, and declares that such fanciful
paintings as are not founded in truth cannot be beautiful; but the
general voice, both in ancient and modern times, has pronounced a
very different opinion. It was from the paintings found in the baths
of Rome that Raphael derived the idea of those famous frescoes in the
gallery of the Vatican. His example was immediately followed by other
distinguished artists. This style derived its name grotesque from the
subterranean rooms (_grotte_) in which the originals were usually
found—rooms not built below the surface of the ground, but buried by
the gradual accumulation of soil and ruined buildings.

A typical example of Pompeian treatment is seen in Plate VI., Fig. 3,
where a bird’s tail passes into a floral scroll.

The representations of such mythical monsters of antiquity as the
Sphinx, Chimæra, the Harpies, and so forth, are familiar to all.
Originally these embodied distinct conceptions which were familiar to
the initiated, if not to all. They were symbols and their origin in art
was religious; their retention was due to their decorative quality.

C. _Complex Heteromorphs._

We have now to consider the complications arising from a combination of
skeuomorphs and biomorphs.

Again I have recourse to Dr. Colley March’s suggestive essay. He
points out that in the north of Europe animals were strangled by
the withy-band, as occurs on an incised stone from Gosforth (Plate
VII., Fig. 3). Mr. Hildebrand endeavours to show that the so-called
Scandinavian sun-snake was produced by the breaking down into
curves of the figure of a lion rampant, copied by a succession of
artificers, all ignorant of the appearance of a lion. But in the
first place, points out Dr. March, the Norse Wurm is found long ago
in prehistoric rock-sculptures. In the next place, the serpent of the
north was symbolic of the sea and not of the sun. And then, it was
not the unfamiliar lion that alone broke up into serpentine forms;
the skeuomorph assailed the stag, as on King Gorm’s stone in Denmark
(Plate VII., Fig. 2). Eikthysnir, the stag of the sun, who was an
attendant and attribute of Frey, is here seen being strangled by the
“laidly worm” of Scandinavia. Dr. March suggests that perhaps we may
recognise the walrus in rock-sculptures at Crichie in Scotland (Plate
VII., Figs. 6, 7). That the walrus was well known to the Northmen, and
highly prized both for its hide, from which ships’ ropes were made
(Plate IV., Fig. 4), and for its tusks, which were a source of ivory,
is proved by the Orosian story (I. Orosius, i. 14). “He went thither
chiefly for walruses, because they have noble bone in their teeth, and
their skin is very good for ships’ ropes.” The Earl of Southesk,[112]
however, brings forward a considerable body of evidence in favour of
the view that this “elephant” symbol, as it has been absurdly termed,
is the sun-boar—a symbol of Frey. No animal held a higher place in
Scandinavia, and at an early period it was adopted as the national
emblem in Denmark, and borne on the standard.

      [112] _Origins of Pictish Symbolism_, 1893.

One frequently finds on early Christian sculptured stones that the
field on each side of the central cross is occupied by a writhing
animal; of these numerous examples occur in the Isle of Man, where
they are undoubtedly due to Scandinavian influence. This animal may
be recognised in some cases as being a wolf, as on a cross at Michael
(Plate VII., Fig. 5).

Two skeuomorphs attack the wolf. The influence of thong-work is seen in
Plate VII., Fig. 1; this may be compared with Plate IV., Fig. 4, which
is copied from a sculptured stone at Malew, also in the Isle of Man.
The latter is one of several Manx skeuomorphs of leather or strap-work.

The withy-band is even more frequently depicted, and on a cross at
Gosforth (Plate VII., Fig. 3) the wolf is being strangled by it.

The serpent or dragon also is frequently represented, indeed it seems
as if the wolf and the serpent passed insensibly into one another, and
nothing is easier than to confound the latter with twisted bands. So
the animal fades away, till finally the skeuomorph triumphs, and only
the ghost of a zoomorph remains in what, to ordinary eyes, is only an
entwisted fibre (Plate VII., Fig. 11).

What then is the significance of this remarkable cycle? The explanation
must be sought in the pagan-Christian overlap, at the time when the
symbols of Norse mythology were being homologised with those of the
Christian faith.

   “Three mighty children to my father Lok
    Did Angerbode, the giantess, bring forth—
    Fenris the wolf, the serpent huge, and me.
    Of these the serpent in the sea ye cast,
    Who since in your despite hath wax’d amain,
    And now with gleaming ring enfolds the world.
    Me on this cheerless nether world he threw,
    And gave me nine unlighted realms to rule.
    While, on his island in the lake, afar,
    Made fast to the bored crag, by wile not strength
    Subdued, with limber chains lives Fenris bound.”

So, in the words of Matthew Arnold, spoke Hela to Hermod on his quest
for the restoration of the slain Balder.

At the crack of doom, the Ragnaroks, Frey, Woden, Thor, and Tyr, are
predestined to perish. A wolf shall devour the sun, and another shall
swallow the moon, and the stars shall vanish out of heaven. Woden shall
go first, and shall encounter Fenriswolf, but the wise, one-eyed god
shall die. The hammer of the “friend of man” shall not avail against
the sea-dragon, and though Thor fights Midgarthsorm, and shall slay
him, he himself shall fall dead from the serpent’s venom. Garm, the
hell-hound, shall fasten upon the one-handed Tyr, and each shall kill
the other. Frey shall fall before Swart, the giant with the flaming
sword. Then shall Vidar spring forward, the mighty son of the Father
of Victory, and shall rend the wolf asunder. “Vidar shall inhabit the
city of the gods when all is over,” as the giant said to Woden. “Vidar,
who outlived the earth-fall, became,” says Professor Stephens,[113] “a
fitting emblem for that Almighty Lord who overcame Sin and Death,” and
he is represented on some sculptured stones as a divine Hart, trampling
on Fenriswolf and Midgarthsorm.

      [113] G. Stephens, _Studies on Northern Mythology_, 1883,
      p. 167.

These strangled wolves and writhing snakes of Scandinavian art
represent the portentous struggle of the powers of darkness with the
gods when “the Wolf shall devour the Sire of Men; but Vid shall avenge
him, and shall rend the cold jaws of the Beast.” But the new religion
possessed a somewhat analogous imagery, and the symbolism of the one
readily passed into that of the other. Whether pagan or Christian, the
symbolic animal was attacked by the plaited thong or twisted fibres,
and the secular handicraft choked the religious idea. Such a hold had
this technique on the mind of the people that it predominated all their
art, and even led to the extinction of religious symbolism.

There was, however, another means by which the pagan dragon crept into
Christian art. I refer to the legend of Sigurd and Fafni, which was
introduced into sepulchral and ecclesiastical carving as late as the
fourteenth century by followers of the new faith. I cannot now detail
the foundation story of the Nibelungen Lied; the point which at present
concerns us is the slaying of Fafni in the form of a dragon or serpent
by Sigurd with his magic sword.

This and other incidents of the legend are carved on wooden portals or
door-pillars of churches, on fonts, and on Christian crosses of stone
in many parts of Sweden and Norway, and also in some parts of England,
as on the Hatton Cross in Lancaster.

Fafni is often seen passing into a maze of beautiful scroll-work, and
in the Hatton Cross he is solely represented by a twisted knot.

Under monkish influence, no doubt, the whole story came by degrees to
be looked upon as containing types and proofs of the younger religion.
Sigurd became the Christian soldier, forging the sword of the spirit,
and his defeat of the serpent could readily be adopted into Christian

      [114] For a more detailed treatment the reader is referred to
      Dr. H. Colley March’s essay on “The Pagan-Christian Overlap in
      the North,” _Trans. Lanc. and Cheshire Antiquarian Soc._, ix.,

“When the Anglo-Saxon had almost forgotten Midgarth’s Orm, and the
ancient Egyptian snake-symbol, as old as the Rameside period, had
been introduced as a new design (Plate VII., Fig. 8), this itself fell
a prey to the dominant skeuomorph, and was doubled and entangled in
obedience to the over-mastering expectancy of the day.”

[Illustration: FIGS. 110, 111.—Modified human figures on the shaft of a
cross at Ilam, near Ashbourne; after Browne.]

“It must be clear,” continues Dr. Colley March, “that such
transformations as these were due to something more than the
successive copying of a copy by ignorant and slovenly artificers,
as in those degenerate changes wrought by Gaulish imitators of the
stater of Philip of Macedon. In that case the original coin was not
before them; they had no artistic impulse or intention, their only
object was to fabricate passable pieces of money. But the men whose
‘taste’ is disclosed by the work we have just considered were swayed
by an influence they could not have understood. The expectancy that
controlled them they inherited. The withy-band had wrapped itself
round all their conceptions.” But the result was enrichment and not
degradation, and the curious designs their art produced show us the
only portal through which the animal form can enter into ornament,
by resolving itself, namely, into the angles, curves, and scrolls of
symmetrical repetition.

“Many pauses took place ere the process was completed. Now one part
of the body was surrendered to the skeuomorph and anon another.
Conventionalism established a temporary truce, but the war of structure
against nature broke out afresh, and the grotesque appeared. We look
upon the death-grasp of a writhing quadruped, the knotted convolutions
of a serpent, the spectral gleam of a vanishing face. And then, when
all was over, when the battle on the ornamental field was lost and won,
nothing was left but a zoomorph of contrasted curves and symmetrical

The human form is not exempt from the skeuomorphic inroad. The two men
in Fig. 4, Plate VII., which is taken from an illuminated page of the
Gospel of Mac Regol, at Oxford, are suffering from but a mild attack,
but the men on the Pre-Norman font at Checkley, near Uttoxeter, and
similar figures (Figs. 110, 111) on a cross at Ilam, five miles from
Ashbourne, have all but succumbed.


In the Introduction I referred to what were termed certain needs which
constrained man to artistic effort. These were art, information,
wealth, and religion, and they will now be treated as briefly as may
be, since it is impossible to deal adequately with them.


Æsthetics is the study and practice of art for art’s sake, that is, for
the pleasurable sensations which are induced by certain combinations
of form, line, and colour. It does not signify for our purpose how the
feeling for art has been obtained, nor is an analysis of the sensations
necessary. All men have this sense, varying from a rudimentary to an
exalted extent. Though it is naturally the basis of all art work, it
does not follow that the æsthetic sense has been the sole cause of
decorative work. Religion and the desire to convey information have
both imitated and controlled pictorial and decorative art, but the
artistic sense has all along exerted its influence to a greater or
less extent. The artistic feeling has endeavoured to cast a glamour of
beauty over the crude efforts of religion and science.

In the scheme of the life-history of pictorial or decorative designs
given on p. 8, I have considered only those which have originated from
various combinations of originally solitary figures. Separate portraits
whether of men or animals, either in the flat or in the round, have
been omitted as they remain in the lowest place of development,
though they may attain to the highest excellence of art. Those who
have followed the brilliant researches in classical archæology will
appreciate what I mean by the life-history of representations. The
origin, rise, glorious consummation, and decadence of Greek statuary is
a striking illustration of my theme.

Figures may be grouped not only to convey a sentiment, as in a picture,
but merely for decorative effect. The artist in this case usually at
once adopted a conventional treatment. In some instances strict realism
may be appropriate, but in the greater number of conditions it is most

Walls, fabrics, and platters have from time immemorial been decorated
in this manner. Many books have been written illustrating this branch
of art and laying down principles of design, and the reader is referred
to these, as this subject does not fall within the scope of the present

I would like to point out in this place that there is a very
instructive field for study in the consideration of the decorative
methods of various peoples. The way in which areas are decorated, the
idea of symmetry, and such-like subjects; for example, the essence of
Japanese decorative art is asymmetry, and the results are charming to
our eyes although we have been reared amongst symmetrical designing.
Symmetry may be exhibited in the equal balancing of dissimilar
designs, as is commonly done by Oriental artists, or in the mechanical
duplication in relation to a median line which is so dear to European

The style of the decorative art of a savage or barbaric people is
a legacy and its perpetuation is usually binding, not merely by
custom but more frequently by religion. When all the various factors
are taken into account, one finds that the æsthetic sense of a
savage artist is not so very different after all from that of his
civilised fellow-craftsman, and one can see in the disposition or the
introduction of certain elements in a design, that both are actuated by
the same æsthetic sense of what is suitable,—both are, in fact, artists.

In the section on Physicomorphs I allude to the rarity of landscape
drawing among savage peoples, and give an illustration (Fig. 66) of
one, from Torres Straits, which occurred casually on a bamboo pipe;
there is another but poorer landscape from the same locality in the
Oxford University Museum. Early attempts, such as these, at pictures
are especially interesting as illustrating the working of the mind of
the artists.

It is not within the scope of this book to trace the history either of
pictorial art or of individual pictures. The genesis of a great picture
is most interesting, and it may occasionally be traced owing to the
fortunate preservation of the artist’s sketches and studies. It often
happens that some of the figures in the finished picture have lost the
vitality which they had in the sketch stage, even such a great artist
as Raffael could not always reproduce the spirit of his own work.

If the originating artist lost something out of his own handiwork,
it is no wonder that a copyist should lose more, especially when the
latter may not have access to the original, but base his reproductions
on copies several times removed from it. A late stage of degeneration
of pictorial art, through more or less incompetent copying, is seen
in the cheap lithographs which occupy, without adorning, the walls of
houses of the country folk, many of which, like the analogous frescoes
of Pompeii, are the pictorial echoes of the works of masters of the


I have already referred to the difficulty of finding a term which will
express all that might be dealt with in this section.

In order to convey information from one man to another, when oral or
gesture language are impossible, recourse must be had to pictorial
signs in some form or another.

Probably one of the earliest of this needs was that of indicating
ownership, and it may be that many devices on primitive implements and
utensils have this as one reason for their existence, although the
nature of the ornamentation may be owing to quite a different reason.

As a matter of fact we know very little about owners’-marks, but it is
possible that while an object may frequently be decorated with a clan
or tribal device, the particular variety or delineation of that figure
will serve to distinguish the ownership of the object.

Allied to owners’-marks are trade-marks; on this subject, too,
information is lamentably deficient, but we know that these do occur
amongst primitive folk (p. 48, Fig. 23).

Most savages employ a more elaborate method of conveying information,
and this picture-writing, as it is called, has been of such importance
in the history of the world, especially in its later developments; that
it deserves a more detailed treatment.


A pictograph is writing by means of a picture. It records and conveys
a fact or an idea by graphic means, without the employment of words
or letters. As pictography belongs to a low plane of culture, so
far as the visual communication of information is concerned, the
representations are generally very crude. By no means should they be
regarded as typical examples of the artistic skill of the people who
execute them. They are intended for picture-writing, not for pictures.
An examination of pictographs shows at once that only essential or
salient characters are noted, and when objects are frequently repeated
they become conventionalised, and in their later forms cannot be
regarded as in any sense objective portraitures.

Nowhere in the world are pictographs so much employed as in America,
and fortunately it is possible to gain precise information respecting
their signification. Colonel Mallery[115] has devoted himself to an
exhaustive study of North American pictography, and I cannot do better
than briefly detail a few of his deductions.

      [115] Garrick Mallery, “On the Pictographs of the North
      American Indians,” _Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of
      Ethnology_, 1882-83 (1886). See also _Tenth Ann. Rep._, 1888-89

“A general deduction, made after several years of study of pictographs
of all kinds found among the North American Indians, is that they
exhibit very little trace of mysticism or of esotericism in any form.
They are objective representations, and cannot be treated as ciphers
or cryptographs in any attempt at their interpretation. A knowledge
of the customs, costumes, including arrangement of the hair, paint,
and all tribal designations, and of their histories and traditions, is
essential to the understanding of their drawings. Comparatively few of
their picture signs have become merely conventional. A still smaller
proportion are either symbolical or emblematic. By far the larger part
of them are merely mnemonic records, and are treated of in connection
with material objects formerly and, perhaps, still used mnemonically.

“It is believed that the interpretation of the ancient forms is to be
obtained, if at all, not by the discovery of any hermeneutic key, but
by an understanding of the modern forms, some of which fortunately
can be interpreted by living men; and when this is not the case the
more recent forms can be made intelligible, at least in part, by
thorough knowledge of the historic tribes, including their sociology,
philosophy, and arts, such as is now becoming acquired, and of their
sign language.

“It is not believed that any considerable information of value in
an historical point of view will be obtained directly from the
interpretation of the pictographs in North America. They refer
generally to some insignificant fight or some season of plenty or

“Ample evidence exists that many of the pictographs, both ancient and
modern, are connected with the mythology and religious practices of
their makers.

“Some of them were mere records of the visits of individuals to
important springs or to fords on regularly established trails. In this
respect there seems to have been, in the intention of the Indians,
very much the same spirit as induces the civilised man to record his
initials upon objects in the neighbourhood of places of general resort.

“One very marked peculiarity of the drawings of the Indians is that
within each particular system, such as may be called a tribal system,
of pictography, every Indian draws in precisely the same manner. The
figures of a man, of a horse, and of every other object delineated, are
made by every one who attempts to make any such figure with all the
identity of which their mechanical skill is capable, thus showing their
conception of motive to be the same” (pp. 15-17; all the quotations are
from the _Fourth Ann. Rep._).

[Illustration: FIG. 112.

Pictograph of a lasso, Dakota Winter Count, 1812-13; after Mallery.]

The purposes for which pictography has been employed by the North
American Indians are:—

1. _Mnemonic._—For the remembrance of the order of songs, the
figurative or representative pictures remind the singers of the
order of the stanzas previously committed to memory; as well as for
traditions, treaties, and the records of events. Among the most
interesting of the latter are the Dakota Winter Counts. The Dakotas
reckon time by winters, and apply names to them instead of numbering
them from an era. Each name refers to some notable occurrence of the
year to which it belongs, and ideographic records of these occurrences
were formerly painted in colours on the hides of animals. A single
example will suffice, it is for the year 1812-13. “Many wild horses
caught,” or “catching wild-horses winter.” The wild horses were first
run and caught by the Dakotas. The device is a lasso. The date is of
value, as showing when the herds of prairie horses, descended from
those animals introduced by the Spaniards, had multiplied so as to
extend into the far northern regions. The Dakotas undoubtedly learned
the use of the horse, and perhaps also of the lasso, from southern
tribes ... in only two generations since they became familiar with
the horse they have become so revolutionised in their habits as to be
utterly helpless, both in war and the chase, when deprived of that
animal” (p. 108).

2. _Notification._—The pictographs of this division may be grouped
as follows—(1) Notice of departure, direction, etc.; (2) notice of
condition, suffering, etc.; (3) warning and guidance; (4) charts of
geographical features; (5) messages or communications; (6) record of
expedition, and so forth.

The following (Fig. 113) is an example of a notice of departure on
a hunting expedition.[116] Similar ones are made by the natives to
inform their visitors or friends of their departure for a certain
purpose. They are depicted upon strips of wood, which are placed in
conspicuous places near the doors of the habitations.

      [116] Originally published by Dr. W. J. Hoffman, _Trans.
      Anthrop. Soc., Washington_, ii., 1883, p. 134.

[Illustration: FIG. 113.—Alaskan notice of a hunt; from Mallery, after

   1. The speaker, with the right hand indicating himself, and with
      the left pointing in the direction to be taken.
   2. Holding a boat paddle—going by boat.
   3. The right hand to the side of the head, to denote sleep, and
      the left elevated with one finger, to signify one—one night.
   4. A circle with two marks in the middle, signifying an island
      with huts upon it.
   5. Same as No. 1.
   6. A circle to denote another island.
   7. Same as No. 3, with an additional finger elevated, signifying
      _two_—two nights.
   8. The speaker with his harpoon, making the sign of a sea-lion
      with the left hand. The flat hand is held edgewise with
      the thumb elevated, then pushed outward from the body in a
      slightly downward curve.
   9. A sea-lion.
  10. Shooting with bow and arrow.
  11. The boat with two persons in it, the paddles projecting
  12. The winter, a permanent habitation of the speaker.

The following is a translation of the native account:—“I there go that
island, one sleep there; then I go another that island, there two
sleeps; I catch one sea-lion, then return place mine.”

“Hunters who have been unfortunate, and are suffering from hunger,
scratch or draw upon a piece of wood characters similar to those
figured (Fig. 114), and place the lower end of the stick in the ground
on the trail where the greatest chance of its discovery occurs. The
stick is inclined toward the locality of the habitation.

[Illustration: FIG. 114.—Pictograph of starving hunters, Alaska; after

  “1. A horizontal line, denoting a canoe, showing the persons to
      be fishermen.
  “2. An individual with both arms extended, signifying _nothing_,
      corresponding with the gesture for negation.
  “3. A person with the right hand to the mouth, signifying _to
      eat_, the left hand pointing to the house occupied by the
  “4. The habitation.

“The whole signifies that there is _nothing to eat_ in the _house_.
This is used by natives of Southern Alaska.”

Lean-Wolf, of the Hidatsa, who drew the picture of which Fig. 115 is
a fac-simile, made a trip on foot from Fort Berthold to Fort Buford,
Dakota, to steal a horse from the Dakotas encamped there. The returning
horse-tracks show that he attained the object in view and that he rode
home. The following explanation of characters was made to Dr. Hoffman,
at Fort Berthold, in 1881:—

[Illustration: FIG. 115.—Lean-Wolf’s Map, Hidatsa; after Mallery.]

  1. Lean-Wolf, the head only of a man to which is attached the
      outline of a wolf.
  2. Hidatsa earth lodges, circular in form, the spots
      representing the pillars supporting the roof. Indian village
      and Fort Berthold, Dakota.
  3. Human footprints; the course taken by the recorder.
  4. The Government buildings at Fort Buford (square).
  5. Several Hidatsa lodges (round), the occupants of which had
      intermarried with the Dakotas.
  6. Dakota lodges.
  7. A small square—a white man’s house—with a cross marked upon
      it, to represent a Dakota lodge. This denotes that the owner,
      a white man, had married a Dakota woman who dwelt there.
  8. Horse-tracks returning to Fort Berthold.
  9. The Missouri River.
  10-16. Tule Creek, Little Knife River, White Earth River, Muddy
      Creek, Yellowstone River, Little Missouri River, Dancing
      Beard Creek.

3. _Designation._—This group embraces tribal, clan and personal names,
marks, status of individual and signs of particular achievements.

The clan, or gentile, designations are totems; these are depicted in
the funeral pictographs to the exclusion of the personal names; the
latter are not indicative of an Indian’s totem.

In No. 1 of the last figure we have the usual signature of Lean-Wolf.
During his boyhood he had another name.

4. _Religious._—Comprising mythic personages, shamanism dances and
ceremonies, mortuary practices, grave posts, charms, etc.

5. _Customs, Daily Life and Habits._—The accompanying figure is from
a carving made of a piece of walrus tusk and represents incidents in
the life of an Alaskan native. The special purport of some of the
characters and etchings is not apparent.

[Illustration: FIG. 116.—Ivory carving with records, Alaska; after

   1. A native with his left hand resting against a house. To the
      right is a “shaman stick” surmounted by the emblem of a bird,
      a “good spirit,” in memory of some departed friend (? of his
   2. A reindeer.
   3. One man, the recorder, shot and killed another with an arrow.
   4. A trading expedition with a dog sledge.
   5. Is a sail boat, although the elevated paddle signifies that
      that was the manner in which the voyage was best made.
   6. A dog-sled with the animal hitched up for a journey. Above is
      the sun.
   7. A sacred lodge. The four figures at the outer corners of the
      square represent the young men placed on guard armed with
      bows and arrows, to keep away the uninitiated. Inside are
      the members of the band dancing; the fire-place is in the
      centre. The angled lines extending from the right side of the
      lodge to the partition line are a plan of the subterranean
      entrance to the lodge.
   8. A pine tree, up which a porcupine is climbing.
   9. A pine tree, from which a woodpecker is extracting larvæ for
  10. A bear.
  11. The recorder in his boat, holding aloft his double-bladed
      paddle to drive fish into a net.
  12. An assistant fisherman driving fish into the net.
  13. The net.

The figure over the man (No. 12) represents a whale, with harpoon and
line attached, caught by the narrator.

6. _Historical._—Colonel Mallery says: “It is very difficult, if not
impossible, to distinguish in pictographs, or indeed orally, between
historical and traditional accounts obtained from Indians.... The
winter counts, while having their chief value as calendars, contain
some material that is absolute and veritable tribal history.”

7. _Biographic._—Pictographs are very common either of a continuous
account of the chief events in the life of the subject of the sketch,
or of separate accounts of some particular exploit or event in the life
of the person referred to.

In this and in another memoir[117] Colonel Mallery calls attention to
the fact that it is necessary to distinguish between different kinds of
pictorial signs, but this becomes more difficult when the characters
have become conventionalised. They may be classified under—1. Pictorial
Signs; 2. Emblems; 3. Symbols.

      [117] Garrick Mallery, “Sign Language among North American
      Indians,” _First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_,
      1879-80 (1881).

1. The representation of any object when it is intended to express that
object is a _pictorial sign_; for example, the figure of a fish in a
pictograph would usually refer to fish in general or to some particular
species of fish. The pictorial translation of a personal name, such as
“Lean-Wolf” (Fig. 115, 1), comes under this heading.

2. Tribal signs, personal insignia, etc., are _emblems_; and these do
not necessarily require any analogy between the objects representing
and the objects or qualities represented, but may arise from pure
accident. The representation of a totem belongs to this category, so
that under certain conditions a drawing would not refer to any actual
fish or that the individual was named “fish,” but that he belonged to
the fish clan; it was emblematic of his clan or his family group, like
most of our armorial bearings. Tribal signs among savage peoples are
emblems in the same way that the rose, thistle, leek, and shamrock are
the emblems of the main components of the British Islands. As Mallery
points out, “After a scurrilous jest the beggar’s wallet became the
emblem of the confederated nobles, the Gueux of the Netherlands; and
a sling, in the early minority of Louis XIV., was adopted from the
refrain of a song by the Frondeur opponents of Mazarin.”

3. “_Symbols_ are less obvious and more artificial than mere signs,
they are usually conventional, and are not only abstract but
metaphysical, and often need explanation from history, religion, and
customs. They do not depict but suggest objects; do not speak directly
through the eye to the intelligence, but presuppose in the mind
knowledge of an event or fact which the sign recalls. The symbols of
the ark, dove, olive-branch, and rainbow would be wholly meaningless
to people unfamiliar with the Mosaic or some similar cosmology, as
would be the cross and the crescent to those ignorant of history.
The last-named objects appeared in the class of emblems when used in
designating the conflicting powers of Christendom and Islamism.” Among
the North American Indians “the pipe is generally the symbol of peace,
although in certain positions and connections it sometimes signifies
preparation for war, and again subsequent victory. The hatchet is a
common symbol for war, and closed hands or approaching palms denote
friendship. The tortoise has been clearly used as a symbol for
land.” Many pictorial signs can be used as emblems, and both can be
converted into symbols or explained as such by perverted ingenuity. An
interesting example of the last is seen in the early Christian conceit
of the portraiture of a fish used for the name and title of Jesus
Christ. This is based on the Greek word ιχθυς “an acrostic composed
of the initials of the several Greek words signifying that name and
title. This origin being unknown to persons whose religious enthusiasm
was in direct proportion to their ignorance, they expended much
rhetoric to prove that there was some true symbolic relation between an
actual fish and the Saviour of men. Apart from this misapplication, the
fish undoubtedly became an emblem of Christ and of Christianity.”[118]

      [118] Mallery, “Sign Language,” etc., 1881, p. 389.

An interesting example of the transformation of a symbol into an
emblem is found in the case of the triskele or triquetra. This is now
recognised to be a variant of the tetraskele, fylfot, gammadion, or
swastika, as it is variously called. Originally this was a sun-symbol,
but many other meanings were doubtless associated with it. The
triskelion “first appears on the coins of Lycia, about B.C. 480; and
then on those of Sicily, where it was adopted by Agathocles, B.C.
317-307, but not as a symbol of the morning, mid-day, and afternoon
sun (‘the Three Steps of Vishnu’), but of the ‘three-sided’ or rather
‘three-ended’ or ‘three-pointed’ (triquetrous) land of Trin-akria,
_i.e._, ‘Three-Capes,’ the ancient name of Sicily; and finally, from
the seventeenth century, on the coins of the Isle of Man;”[119] where
covered with chain armour, but without spurs, it was introduced by
Alexander III. of Scotland in 1266, when that prince took over the
island from the Norwegians; he having become familiar with the device
at the English Court of Henry III. (1216-72), whose son Edmund was for
a short time styled King of Sicily, and who quartered the Sicilian arms
with the royal arms of England.[120] The triquetra is also met with in
the armorial bearings of several noble families in England, Germany,
Switzerland, and Poland, but now the legs are appropriately clothed in
armour and spurs are added; probably these are relics of the Crusades.
Truly “the Three Legs of Man” have run afar not only in historical time
and geographical space, but also in the unseen world of symbolism.

      [119] J. Newton, _Athenæum_, No. 3385, September 10, 1892,
      p. 353; and for further details cf. _Manx Note-Book_, January

      [120] Sir George Birdwood, Introduction to Count Goblet
      d’Alviella’s _The Migration of Symbols_.

In the section devoted to Religion I deal with the history and
migration of the fylfot, one of the most widely distributed symbols,
as this particular instance forms a good example of the method which
should be adopted in studying symbols and their meaning.

Pictography is so obvious a means for conveying information that there
is no difficulty in supposing it to have originated independently among
different peoples. Its use is, and has been, very widely spread.

Petroglyphs are known from great antiquity in Europe and Asia. They
are still employed in Australia; they are found in New Zealand, but
most of these, like many of those which scattered throughout the
continent of Australia, are comparatively ancient. They are common in
some parts of South Africa, where they are due to the artistic impulses
of the Bushmen; neither the Kafirs nor the Hottentots paint human and
animal forms on the rocks. As petroglyphs are much more permanent than
pictographs on more perishable materials, they are more likely to be
preserved from ancient times, but it is probable that the latter were
actually of more frequent occurrence.

There is no single system of pictography. Everywhere a figure of
a man means a man, and that of a tree stands for a tree, and to
this extent pictographs can be deciphered by any one. More precise
information can be gleaned when the figures are provided with some
unmistakable determinative, and are in a realistic attitude. In the
vast majority of cases a native interpreter is required to explain
the exact significance of the figures, or of the event which they
commemorate. Once explained, the representations are usually found to
be sufficiently appropriate. Although the meaning of simple pictographs
may be guessed at readily enough, the elucidation of complex
representations is a very different matter, as there are usually some
signs, symbols, or determinatives of which the significance is unknown.

In attempting to decipher pictographs, not only is it necessary to have
a thorough knowledge of the people who made them, but it must be borne
in mind that characters substantially the same, or “homomorphs” (to use
Colonel Mallery’s term) made by one set of people, have a different
signification among others. Further, differing forms (“symmorphs”)
for the same general conception or idea may occur. It is usually
comparatively easy for any one to get a meaning out of a pictograph;
but it is quite a different matter whether that was the meaning which
the inscriber intended to convey.

I have dwelt at some length on pictographs, or ideograms, as they are
used to so large an extent by backward peoples to convey ideas; but
this is only the threshold of a much larger and more important matter,
the Art of Writing.

These early steps, as has already been mentioned, have been traversed
by various peoples, but fewer have attained the next stage, while the
last has proved a laborious and tedious effort. “To invent and to bring
to perfection the score or so of handy symbols for the expression of
spoken sounds which we call our alphabet, has proved to be the most
arduous enterprise on which the human intellect has ever been engaged.
Its achievement tasked the genius of the three most gifted races of the
ancient world. It was begun by the Egyptians, continued by the Semites,
and finally perfected by the Greeks. From certain Egyptian hieroglyphic
pictures, which were in use long before the Pyramids were erected, it
is possible to deduce the actual outlines of almost every letter of our
modern English alphabet.”[121]

      [121] Isaac Taylor, _The Alphabet, an Account of the Origin and
      Development of Letters_, 1883.

The stages through which alphabetic writing has passed are as follow:—

  1. _Pictographs._—Pictures or actual representations of objects.
  2. _Ideograms._—Pictorial symbols, which are used to suggest
      objects or abstract ideas.
     _Phonograms._—Graphic symbols of sounds. They have usually arisen
      out of conventionalised ideograms, which have been taken to
      represent sounds instead of things.
  3. (_A._) Verbal signs, representing entire words.
  4. (_B._) Syllabic signs which stand for the articulations of
      which words are composed.
  5. _Alphabetic Signs_ or _Letters_, which represent the elementary
      sounds into which the syllable can be resolved.

1. The least advanced of men can convey information, that is, they can
write by means of _Pictographs_.

2. Probably all of them also employ more or fewer symbols or
_Ideograms_, such as the depicting of a turtle for “land” by the North
American Indians.

The next stage is that in which from pictures which represent things or
ideas were derived pictures which represent sounds or _Phonograms_.

Our children, of their own initiative, to amuse themselves, pass
through the two earlier stages of writing. The stage we are now
considering is a common amusement for children, in the kind of
conundrum known as the _rebus_. “In the _rebus_ the picture of an
object is taken to denote any word or part of a word which has the
same sound as the name of the thing pictured. As in the well-known
_rebus_ in which the sentence, ‘I saw a boy swallow a gooseberry,’ is
represented by pictures of an eye, a saw, a boy, a swallow, a goose,
and a berry. If, for instance, like the ancient Egyptians, we were to
adopt a circle with a central dot as our ordinary written symbol for
the sun, this would be an ideogram. But if we were to go on, and after
the Egyptian or Chinese method, were to use the same symbol to express
also the word ‘son,’ we should have a phonogram of that primitive type
which has repeatedly served to bridge over the gap between picture
ideograms and phonetic characters.”

3. In all languages there are certain monosyllabic words which are
pronounced alike, but which have different significations, for
example, stork, stalk (noun and verb). In order to indicate which was
intended in phonography, it would be necessary to add a determinative
or explanatory ideogram. Thus, if a figure of the bird represented
the first, the same figure of a bird with a flower or some leaves by
its side would indicate a stalk, and a pair of legs by the side of
another bird would determinate the action of stalking. The Chinese to
the present day write in this cumbrous way, as used to do the ancient
Egyptians and Assyrians.

There is no need, however, to invent a _rebus_ to show what one is
when Egyptian hieroglyphics are full of them. I take the following
from Dr. Isaac Taylor. The picture of a lute was used symbolically by
the Egyptian scribes to denote “excellence.” It then came to stand as
a phonogram to express the word _nefer_, “good.” But in the Egyptian
language this sound represented two homophonic [similarly pronounced]
words, _nefer_, “good,” and _nefer_, “as far as.” Hence we find that
the character may be used as a pictorial ideogram [pictograph] to
represent a lute, and as a symbolic ideogram to mean excellence; then
as a phonogram for the preposition _nefer_, and lastly as a syllabic
sign to denote _ne_, the first syllable of the word _nefer_.

4. The problem of phonetic denotation having thus been solved, the
syllabic signs were combined so as to form compound phonograms on the
principle of the _rebus_. For example, the name of lapis lazuli was
_khesteb_. Now the word _khesf_ meant to “stop,” and the syllable _teb_
denoted a “pig.” Hence the _rebus_ “stop-pig” was invented to express
graphically the name of lapis lazuli, and this is figured by the
picture of a man stopping a pig by pulling at its tail.

The Japanese system of writing illustrates the later development. They
learnt the art of writing from the Chinese, but as their language is
polysyllabic, while the Chinese is essentially monosyllabic, “the
Chinese characters which are verbal phonograms could only be used for
the expression of the polysyllabic Japanese words by being treated
as syllabic signs. A number of characters sufficient to constitute
a syllabary having been selected from the numerous Chinese verbal
phonograms, it was found that the whole apparatus of determinatives (or
‘keys,’ radicals, or ‘primitives,’ as they are termed in describing
Chinese writing) might be rejected, being no longer indispensable to
the reader. By these two changes an almost incredible simplification
of the Chinese writing was effected. But though syllabism is a great
advance on a system of verbal phonograms, yet it is necessarily
somewhat cumbrous, owing to the considerable number of characters which
are required.”

Although the Japanese have invented one of the best syllabaries which
has ever been constructed, the development stopped short there. “The
fact that during more than a thousand years it should never have
occurred to a people so ingenious and inventive as the Japanese to
develop their syllabary into an alphabet, may suffice to show that the
discovery of the alphabetic principle of writing is not such an easy or
obvious a matter as might be supposed.”

5. The final step consists in employing a sign to represent a sound. It
is a more refined analysis of a word, and this gives simple phonetic
elements, few in number, but which can be indefinitely combined.

The ancient Egyptians curiously just stopped short of the final stage;
they developed alphabetical signs more than four thousand years B.C.,
but failed to make independent use of them. Their innate conservatism
appeared to paralyse further growth; truly the gods have not given all
the gifts to any one man, for they (like Hannibal) did not know how
to make use of their victory. When a word was alphabetically written
a phonogram was added to explain it, and an ideogram (or pictograph)
was added to explain the phonogram. The word as finally written was an
accretion of various stages in its own evolution.

Those who would like to trace the processes by which one alphabet has
been developed must be referred to Dr. Taylor’s great work, from which
I have abstracted so much.

For the sake of convenience Egyptian scribes developed a hieratic
writing from the hieroglyphics. Strangely enough this was twice
accomplished, the early Hieratic was truly cursive and much bolder than
the later and more delicate, though less modified Hieratic. The former
was invented before the period of the Hyskos or Shepherd Kings, and the
latter, or Theban Hieratic, arose in the succeeding Ramesidan dynasty.

The Semites, who dwelt in the Delta of Lower Egypt during the five or
six centuries of the Hyskos dynasty, seized on the alphabetic symbols
of the cursive Hieratic, which was the secular writings as opposed
to the sacred hieroglyphs. Their language and mode of thought being
different from that of the Egyptian scribe, and having no sacred
traditions to hamper them, they were able to break away from the
trammels of antiquity. They were wise enough to drop the useless lumber
of the phonogram and ideogram, and so they dissected out, as it were,
the alphabet from the cursive Hieratic. This was done in order to
have a ready and simple method for recording business transactions.
Along with their wares the Phœnicians distributed along the shores
of the Mediterranean this far more valuable acquisition. The gift
of the knowledge of letters with its vast potentialities more than
counterbalanced the sharp practices of these keen traders.

It was reserved for yet another people, the Greeks, to perfect the
alphabet they had learnt from the Phœnicians to an extent which the
Semites were unable to accomplish, and this improvement in notation
enabled them to register thoughts more ennobling than the records of
commerce. It is scarcely conceivable that Greece could have risen
to her intellectual pre-eminence if she had been shackled with
phonographic writing. Evolution in notation is necessary for the
evolution of mental processes.

The evolution of the art of writing clearly shows that it was expedient
for the utilitarian to destroy the æsthetic, for it must be admitted
that the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt were the most decorative of
all known writing symbols. Professor Flinders Petrie, in a lecture
delivered at the Royal Institute, in May 1894, stated that “the
Egyptian treatment of everything was essentially decorative; the
love of form and drawing was in Egypt a greater force than amongst
any other ancient people. Babylon and China, from want of sufficient
artistic taste, allowed their pictorial writing to sink into a mere
string of debased and conventional forms; the Egyptians, on the
contrary, preserve the purely pictorial and artistic character of
their hieroglyphs to the end. The hieroglyphs were a decoration in
themselves; their very position in the sentence was subordinated
to the decorative effect; the Egyptian could not be guilty of the
barbarism seen on some of the Assyrian sculpture, where inscriptions
were scrawled right across the work without regard to design. So far
was this idea carried that many words or ideas were represented by
two distinct characters, one wide and the other narrow and deep, so
that the harmony of the design should not be broken by an unsuitable
element. The result was that the Egyptians were rewarded by having the
most beautiful writing in the world.”[122] The less the picture became
like what it was intended to represent the more useful it became as a
means for conveying thought. But in the new-found method of expression
æsthetics has vastly gained, and from our present point of view we may
regard as the final term of the series, vivid written descriptions of
scenes and events or word-pictures.

      [122] Newspaper Report.


When dealing with the decorative transformation of artificial objects
I referred (p. 78) to the large axes which are made in some of the
islands in the archipelagoes off the south-east peninsula of New
Guinea, and I pointed out how the desire for a reputation for wealth
appears to have resulted in the production of a useless article, which
took a great deal of time to fabricate.

Mr. H. Balfour[123] gives a parallel example in the case of “the
development of our own civic and state maces. In these the end which
was originally the handle end has now become the ‘clubbed’ end, through
the small crown, which originally embellished the handle, having
gradually developed into the enormous head so characteristic of the
modern ceremonial mace; the two ends have changed places, and the
sometime ‘business’ end is now the smaller.”

      [123] H. Balfour, _The Evolution of Decorative Art_, 1893,
      p. 73.

An analogous modification often occurs in votive objects. In
prehistoric as well as in recent times objects are dedicated to certain
shrines. Sometimes these may be objects in actual use, but frequently
they are specially made, and in order to increase their value they are
made in some more precious material or with more elaborate workmanship.
For example, votive axes have the blade decorated and even often
perforated, so that it comes to be an elegant fretwork axe-blade,
artistic and valuable but utterly useless for material purposes. This
has happened amongst many peoples and at various times.

But there is also a reverse process which operates in votive offerings,
which may partly be due to the idea that the deities or powers to whom
the offerings are made care more for the idea of offering than for the
object offered, as at a later stage it was recognised that “to obey is
better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel
xv. 22). It must, however, be confessed that another consideration has
probably been operative, and that is economy, and it is conceivable
that this motive has led to the reason being assigned that the idea of
the gift, or the essence of the gift, was all that was necessary.

It is superfluous to detail many examples, as the following will
suffice to illustrate this retrograde tendency. It was formerly a
widely-spread custom to sacrifice attendants for the dead. “In the
seventeenth century the practice is described as prevailing in Japan,
where, on the death of a nobleman, from ten to thirty of his servants
put themselves to death. The Japanese form of modern survival of such
funeral sacrifices is the substitute for real men and animals, images
of stone, or clay, or wood, placed by the corpse.[124] The ceremonies
(in China) of providing sedan-bearers and an umbrella-bearer for the
dead, and sending mounted horsemen to announce beforehand his arrival
to the authorities of Hades, although these bearers and messengers are
only made of paper and burnt, seem to represent survivals of a more
murderous reality.”[125] The Chinese, too, on certain occasions make
mock money in paper and then burn it as an offering.

      [124] E. B. Taylor, _Primitive Culture_ (2nd ed.), 1873, p. 463.

      [125] _Loc. cit._, p. 464.

Associated with wealth is the evolution of money. Money is essentially
a symbol of value; coin is always of less intrinsic worth than its
nominal value, and as money transactions increase the nominal value
bears absolutely no relation to the real value, as in the case of paper

In some parts of British New Guinea we find at the present time a very
interesting intermediate stage between mere barter and the evolution of

I have elsewhere[126] pointed out that there is no money in Torres
Straits; but certain articles have acquired a generally recognised
exchange value. Some of the objects necessitate a considerable amount
of skilled labour; others, such as certain shell ornaments, vary in
value according to the size of the shell, although, of course, the
labour in fabricating a small shell is very little less than that
expended over a large one. I noticed that, as with our precious stones,
a comparatively small increase in size greatly enhances the value. In
the first case it is the labour that gives the value, in the second
it is the rarity. Thus these objects cannot be regarded as money as
they have an intrinsic value. Those most generally employed are the
_dibidibi_, a round polished disc worn on the chest, and formed from
the apex of a large cone shell (_Conus millepunctatus_); the _waiwi_
or _wauri_, a shell armlet formed of a transverse section of the same
shell; a _wap_ or dugong harpoon, a long elegantly shaped instrument
cut out of a tree; a canoe.

      [126] A. C. Haddon, “The Ethnography of the Western Tribe of
      Torres Straits,” _Jour. Anth. Inst._, xix., 1890.

A good _waiwi_, one which can be worn on the arm of a man, is a very
valued possession, the exchange value is a canoe or a dugong harpoon. I
gathered that ten or twelve _dibidibi_ are considered of equal value to
any of the above. The ornaments vary in size and finish, and the value
varies correspondingly, thus no table of equable exchange can be drawn

A wife was formerly rated at the highest unit of exchange, her value
being a canoe, or a _wap_, or a _waiwi_.

Macgillivray[127] states that in 1849 an iron knife or a glass bottle
(which, when broken into fragments form so many knives) was considered
a sufficient price for a wife. Now the natives usually give trade
articles to their prospective parents-in-law. My friend Maino, the
chief of Tud, informed me that he paid for his wife, who came from
the mainland of New Guinea, a camphor-wood chest containing seven
bolts (_i.e._, pieces) of calico, one dozen shirts, one dozen singlets
(jerseys), one dozen trousers, one dozen handkerchiefs, two dozen
tomahawks, one pound of tobacco, one long fish spear, two fishing
lines, one dozen hooks, and two pearl shells, and he finished up by
saying, “By golly, he too dear!” If the above price was actually paid,
there was some foundation for his exclamation. Once when he sold me
something he particularly demanded a tomahawk in exchange, as he had to
give one to his mother-in-law to “pay” for his last baby, and he did
too. It appears that babies have to be paid for as well.

      [127] _Voyage of the “Rattlesnake,”_ 1852.

At the opposite end of British New Guinea, Sir William MacGregor
informs us that at Pannaet (Deboyne Island), in the Louisiades, the
canoes for which this island is famous are cut out with adzes of
hoop-iron, but “they sell the canoes when made at from ten to fifty
stone axes. They do not use the stone axe as a tool in this part of
the country, but it still represents the standard of currency in great
transactions such as the purchase of a canoe, or a pig, or in obtaining
a wife. The natives always carefully explain that, as concerns the
wife, the stone axes are not given as a payment for her, but as a
present to the father of the girl. Steel tomahawks will, however, now
be accepted, at least in some cases, in payment of a canoe, and no
doubt the days of the currency of the stone axe for these and all other
purposes are numbered” (July 1890).[128] In Misima (St. Aignan Island)
also “they have entered the iron age, and appear to have entirely given
up the use of the stone axe except as a medium for purchasing wives”
(October 1888).[129]

      [128] _Annual Report of British New Guinea_, C.A. 1, 1892.
      p. 66.

      [129] _Further Correspondence respecting New Guinea_, 1890, C.
      5883, p. 251.

The evolution of the money symbol is a very interesting history, and
I would refer those who would like to inquire further into it to the
masterly work by Professor Ridgeway.[130] In the following brief sketch
of this question I draw largely from that book.

      [130] W. Ridgeway, _The Origin of Metallic Currency and Weight
      Standards_, 1892.

Among the Bahnars of Annam, who border on Laos, “everything,” says
M. Aymonier, “is by barter, hence all objects of general use have a
known relationship; if we know the unit, all the rest is easy.” After
enumerating certain exchange values, he continues, “1 _muk_ = 10
_mats_, that is to say, ten of those hoes which are manufactured by the
Cedans, and which are employed by all the savages of this region as
their agricultural implement. The hoe is the smallest amount used by
the Bahnars. It is worth 10 centimes in European goods, and is made of

      [131] _Loc. cit._, p. 23.

“The Chinese likewise used hoes as money; but in the course of time the
hoe became a true currency, and little hoes were employed as coins in
some parts of China” (_tsin_, agricultural implements).[132]

      [132] _Loc. cit._, p. 22.

At Ras-el-Fyk, in Dafour, the hoe also serves as currency,[133] and in
West Africa “axes serve as currency; these are too small to be really
employed as an implement, but are doubtless the survival of a period
not long past when real axes served as money.”[134]

      [133] _Loc. cit._, p. 45.

      [134] _Loc. cit._, p. 40.

At the time when the Chinese made their great invasion into
South-Eastern Asia (214 B.C.), they still were employing a bronze
currency under the form of knives, which were 135 millimetres (5⅖
ins.) in length, bearing on the blade the character _Minh_, and
finished with a ring at the end of the handle for stringing them. Under
the ninth dynasty (479-501 A.D.), they used knives of the same form and
metal, but 180 mm. (7⅕ ins.) in length, furnished with a large ring
at the end of the handle and inscribed with the characters _Tsy Ku’-u
Hoa_. Next the form of the knife was modified, the handle disappeared,
and the ring was attached directly to the blade; but now, as weight was
regarded of importance, its thickness was increased to preserve the
full amount of metal, and the ring became a flat round plate pierced
with a hole for the string.[135] Later on these knives became really a
conventional currency,[136] and for convenience the blade was got rid
of, and all that was now left of the original knife was the ring in
the shape of a round plate pierced with a square hole. This is a brief
history of the _sapec_ (more commonly known to us as _cash_), the only
native coin of China, and which is found everywhere from Malaysia to

      [135] J. Silvestre, “Notes pour servir à la recherche et au
      classement des monnaies et des médailles de Annam et de la
      Cochin-Chine Française,” _Excursions et Reconnaissances_, No.
      15 (1883), p. 395.

      [136] W. S. Ament, “The Ancient Coinage of China,” _American
      Journ. Archæol._, iv., 1888, p. 284, Pls. XII., XIII.

      [137] H. C. Millies, _Recherches sur les Monnaies des Indigènes
      de l’Archipel Indien et de la Péninsule Malaie_, 1871.

“Among the fishermen who dwelt along the shores of the Indian Ocean,
from the Persian Gulf to the southern shores of Hindustan, Ceylon, and
the Maldive Islands, it would appear that the fish-hook, to them the
most important of all implements, passed as currency. In the course of
time it became a true money, just as did the hoe in China. It still
for a time retained its ancient form, but gradually became degraded
into a single piece of double wire. These _larins_, made both of silver
and bronze, were in use until the beginning of the last century, and
bear legends in Arabic character. Had the process of degradation gone
on without check, in course of time the double wire would probably
have shrunk up into a bullet-shaped mass of metal, just as the Siamese
silver coins are the outcome of a process of degradation from a piece
of silver wire twisted into the form of a ring and doubled up, which
probably originally formed some kind of ornament. The bullet-shaped
_tical_ is now struck as a coin of European form. Just as, perhaps,
the silver shells of Burmah became the multiple unit of a large number
of real cowries, so the fish-hook made of real silver came into use
as a multiple unit, when the bronze fish-hook had already become
conventionalised into a true coin.”[138]

      [138] W. Ridgeway, _The Origin of Metallic Currency and Weight
      Standards_, 1892, p. 27.

“Every medium of exchange either has an actual marketable value, or
represents something which either has, or formerly had, such a value
just as a five-pound note represents five sovereigns, and the piece
of stamped walrus skin, formerly employed by Russians in Alaska in
paying the native trappers, represented roubles or blankets. This is an
interesting parallel to the ancient tradition that the Carthaginians
employed leather money” (p. 47).

To employ the language of geology, we have found evidence pointing to
certain general laws of stratification. In Further Asia we have found
a section which presents us with an almost complete series of strata,
whilst in other places where we have been only able to observe two
or three layers, we have nevertheless found that certain strata are
invariably found superimposed upon others just as regularly as the coal
seams are found lying over the carboniferous limestone. As soon as the
primitive savage has conceived the idea of obtaining some article which
he desires but does not possess, by giving in exchange to its owner
something which the latter desires, the principle of money has been

Shells or necklaces of shells are found everywhere to be employed in
the earliest stages. When some men began to make weapons of superior
material, as for instance, axes of jade instead of common stone, such
weapons naturally soon became media of exchange; when the ox and the
sheep, the swine and the goat are tamed, large additions are made to
the circulating media of the more advanced communities; then come
the metals; the older ornaments of shells and implements of stone are
replaced by those of gold (and much later by silver), and by weapons of
bronze as in Asia and Europe, and by those of iron in Africa.

Copper and iron circulate either in the form of implements and weapons,
such as the axes of West Africa, the hoes of the early Chinese and
modern Bahnars, and the ancient Chinese knives, all of which remind
us of the axes and half-axes in Homer; or in the form of rings and
bracelets, like the manillas of West Africa and the ancient Irish
fibulæ, or else in the form of plates or bars of metal, ready to be
employed for the manufacture of such articles, as in the case of the
iron bars of Laos, the iron discs of the Madis, and the brass rods
of the Congo. Again, we are reminded of the mass of pig-iron which
Achilles offered as a prize.

It is of the highest importance to observe that such pieces of copper
and iron are not weighed, but are appraised by measurement. We shall
find that it is only at a period long subsequent to the weighing of
gold that the inferior metals are estimated by weight.

The custom of capturing wives, which prevails among the lowest
savages, is succeeded by the custom of purchasing wives. The woman is
only a chattel on the same footing as the cow or the sheep, and she
is accordingly appraised in terms of the ordinary media of exchange
employed in her community, whether it be in cows, horses, beads, skins,
or blankets. Presently male captives are found useful both to tend
flocks, and, as in the East and in the modern Soudan, to guard the

With the discovery of gold, ornaments made at first out of the rough
nuggets supersede other ornaments, and presently either such ornaments
or portions of gold in plates or lumps are added to the list of media,
and the same follows with the discovery of silver. Such ornaments or
pieces of gold and silver are estimated in terms of cattle, and the
standard unit of the bars or ingots naturally is adjusted to the unit
by which it is appraised. Thus we find the Homeric talent, the silver
bar of Annam, the Irish _unga_ all equated to the cow, and the Welsh
_libra_, Anglo-Saxon _libra_, similarly equated to the slave.

With the discovery of the art of weaving, cloths of a definite size
everywhere become a medium, as the silk cloth of ancient China, the
woollen cloths of the old Norsemen, the _toukkiyeh_ of the Soudan, and
the blanket of North America. This fact once more recalls Homer and
makes us believe that the robes and blankets and coverlets which Priam
brought along with the talents of gold to be the ransom of Hector’s
body, all had a definite place in the Homeric monetary system.

“We have seen the Siamese piece of twisted silver wire passing into a
coin of European style, and the Chinese bronze knife ending by becoming
_cash_, just as the Homeric talent of gold appears, in weight at least,
as the gold stater of historical times. Thus in every point the analogy
between what we find in the Homeric Poems and in modern barbarous
communities seems complete.

“We may therefore with some confidence assume that we are at liberty
to fill up the gaps in the strata of Greek monetary history which lie
between Homer and the beginning of coined money on the analogy of the
corresponding strata in other regions. This assumption, resting on
a broad basis of induction and confirmed by a good deal of evidence
special to Greece and Italy, will be found to explain the origin, not
only of weight standards in those countries, but of the types on the
oldest coins, such as the cow’s head of Samos, the tunny fish of Olbia
and Cyzicus, the axe of Tenedos, the tortoise of Aegina, the shield of
Bœotia, and the silphium of Cyrene” (pp. 49, 50).

Professor Ridgeway’s view is that while mythological and religious
subjects do occur on Greek coins, it can be shown that certain coins,
even in historical times, were regarded as the representations of the
objects of barter of more primitive times.

The tunny fish continually passes in vast shoals through the sea of
Marmora from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. A representation of
this fish appears invariably on the electrum coins of Cyzicus. “We know
that the articles which form the staple commodities of a community in
the age of barter virtually form its money. In a city like Cyzicus,
whose citizens depended for their wealth on their fisheries and trade,
rather than on flocks and herds and agriculture, the tunny fish singly
or in certain defined numbers, as by the score or hundred and the like,
would naturally form a chief monetary unit, just as the stock-fish
(dried cod) were employed in mediæval Iceland. Are we not then
justified in considering the tunny fish, which forms the invariable
adjunct of the coins of Cyzicus, as an indication that these coins
superseded a primitive system in which the tunny formed a monetary
unit, just as the kettle and pot countermarks on the coins of Crete
point back to the days when real kettles formed the chief medium of

“But far stronger evidence is at hand to show that the tunny fish was
used as a monetary unit in some parts of Hellas. The city of Olbia,
which lay on the north shore of the Black Sea, was a Milesian colony,
and was the chief Greek emporium in this region. There are bronze
coins of this city made in the shape of fishes and inscribed ΘΥ,
which has been identified as the abbreviation of θύννος, _tunny_.
When we recall the Chinese bronze cowries, the Burmese silver shells,
the silver fish-hooks of the Indian Ocean, etc., we are constrained to
believe that in those coins of Olbia, shaped like a fish, we have a
distinct proof of the influence on the Greek mind of the same principle
which has impelled other peoples to imitate in metal the older object
of barter which a metal currency is replacing. The inhabitants of Olbia
were largely intermixed with the surrounding barbarians, and may
therefore have felt some difficulty in replacing their barter unit by
a round piece of metal bearing merely the imprint of a fish, while the
pure-blooded Greek of Cyzicus had no hesitation in mentally bridging
the gulf between a real fish and a piece of metal merely stamped with
a fish, and did not require the intermediate step of first shaping his
metal unit into the form of a tunny.

The island of Tenedos, lying off the Troad, struck at a very early
date silver coins bearing for device a double-headed axe. Pausanias,
in the second century A.D., saw at Delphi axes dedicated by Periclytus
of Tenedos. It is probable, according to Professor Ridgeway, that such
double axes as those stamped on the coins of Tenedos formed part of the
earliest Greek system of currency. The prizes offered in the funeral
games of Patroclus are of course merely the usual objects of barter and
currency, slavewomen, oxen, tripods, talents of gold, and the like.
“But he (Achilles) set for the archers dark iron, and he set down ten
axes and ten half-axes;”[139] that is, ten double and ten single-headed
axes. That such axes were evidently an important article in Tenedos is
proved by the dedication at Delphi, and may not the axe on their coins
represent the local unit of an earlier epoch?

      [139] “Ten double-headed axes he set and ten single,” in the
      translation by E. Meyers. _The Iliad of Homer_, xxiii. 850
      (Macmillan & Co.), 1883.

The “tortoise” on the coins of Aegina has been mythologised as an
emblem of Aphrodite, but the connection is not very intimate. According
to a fragment of Ephorus, the Aeginetans took to commerce on account
of the barrenness of their island. But they must have had something
to give in exchange to the people before they could have developed a
carrying trade, and Professor Ridgeway suggests that the tortoise on
the coins of Aegina simply indicates that the old monetary unit of
that island was the shell of the turtle (“tortoise-shell”), which was
considerably larger, and therefore more valuable for making bowls than
that of the land or mountain tortoise. The earliest coins represent a
turtle, for the feet are flippers quite distinct from the legs of the
later tortoises; also the thirteen plates of the dorsal shield, or
carapace, are not so distinct in the turtle as in the tortoise, and in
the older coins these plates are not represented. The earliest coins,
too, have the incuse on the reverse divided into eight triangular
compartments, which may indicate the eight plates of the ventral
shield, or plastron, of all these animals.

The same line of argument applies to the Bœotian shield, which has been
confidently pronounced to be a sacred emblem, but which we must now
regard as a numismatic symbol of a real shield. On the reverse of these
coins the incuse forms a rude =X=, bounded by a circle of dots, which
probably represents the back of the shield, as the frame of an ox-hide
shield consists of a circular rod with two crossbars.

“The idea of making the incuse represent the other side of the object
given in relief on the obverse seems to be just the stage between a
complete representation of the object, as in the tunny of Olbia, and
that evinced by the early coins of Magna Græcia, on which the reverse
gives in the incuse exactly the same form as that in relief on the

The silphium plant of Cyrene, which yielded a salubrious but somewhat
unpleasant medicine, has also been held to have a mythological
symbolism, and without any evidence it has been foisted on to the
hero Aristacus, “the protector of the corn-field and the vine and all
growing crops, and bees and flocks and shepherds, and the averter of
the scorching blasts of the Sahara.” “It seems far more reasonable
to treat it on the same principle as the others just discussed. The
silphium formed the most important article produced in that region, and
it is perfectly in accordance with all analogy that certain quantities
of this plant, and of the juice extracted from it, should be employed
as money. At the present moment tea is so employed on the borders of
Tibet and China, and raw cotton in Darfur.”

Professor Ridgeway argues that the same holds good for representations
of cattle on coins—the image of the cow or the ox indicates that the
gold piece so marked is a substitute for that animal.

These researches of Professor Ridgeway’s have thrown a new light on
some of the images on Greek coins. He has transferred the symbolism
of this class of coinage from the domain of religion to that of
merchandise—from god to mammon.[140]

      [140] Prof. D’Arcy W. Thompson, jun., has published a paper
      (“On Bird and Beast in Ancient Symbolism,” _Trans. Roy. Soc.
      Edinb._, xxxviii. pt.i., 1895, p. 179), in which he combats
      Prof. Ridgeway’s theory, as being foreign to all we know of
      ancient symbolism. “We must see fallacy in any theory which
      treats as nascent and primitive the civilisation of a period of
      exalted poetry, the offspring of ages of antecedent culture;
      which sees but a small advance on recent barbarism in ways of
      life simple in some respects, but rich in developed art and
      stored with refined tradition; that looks only for the ways
      and habits and thoughts of primitive man in races supported
      by a background of philosophical and scientific culture of an
      unfathomed, and may be unfathomable, antiquity. Behind early
      Hellenic civilisation was all the wisdom of Egypt and the East,
      and the first Greeks of whom we have knowledge looked upon the
      old Heaven and the old Earth not with the half-open, wondering
      eyes of wakening intelligence, but with perceptions trained
      in an ancient inheritance of accumulated learning. “I print
      this extract, as I consider that D’Arcy Thompson’s reminder is
      needed in the present search after origins. With regard to the
      point at issue, it appears to me that both may be right. Some
      of the representations on Greek coins may have the significance
      which Ridgeway ascribes to them, while others may bear the
      interpretation given by D’Arcy Thompson, whose theory I shall
      refer to later.


For the sake of simplicity, in the Introduction I included in the
term Religion the relation of man to unseen powers. These have always
been recognised, and man has everywhere attempted to put himself
into sympathetic relation with them. It is, however, preferable to
distinguish between Sympathetic Magic and Religion proper, as the
former is impersonal and the latter is essentially personal in its

Sympathetic magic is, so to speak, the primitive protoplasm out of
which natural science has been evolved, in much the same way as,
together with ancestor-worship and totemism, it lies at the base of
most religious systems.

1. _Sympathetic Magic._

As Mr. J. G. Frazer has pointed out,[141] primitive man has the germ
of the modern notion of natural law, or the view of nature as a series
of events occurring in an invariable order without the intervention of
personal agency. This germ is involved in that sympathetic magic which
plays a large part in most systems of superstition.

      [141] J. G. Frazer, _The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative
      Religion_, 1890, p. 9.

One of the principles of sympathetic magic, or signature lore as it
is sometimes called, is that any effect may be produced by imitating
it. If it is wished to kill a person, an image of him is made and
then destroyed; and it is believed that through a certain physical
sympathy between the person and his image, the man feels the injuries
done to the image as if they were done to his own body, and when it is
destroyed he must simultaneously perish.

Sometimes the magic sympathy takes effect, not so much through an act
as through a supposed resemblance of qualities. Some Bechuana warriors
wear the hair of an ox among their own hair and the skin of a frog on
their mantle, because a frog is slippery and the ox from which the hair
has been taken has no horns and is therefore hard to catch; so the
warrior who is provided with these charms believes that he will be as
hard to hold as the ox and the frog.

“Thus we see,” continues Mr. Frazer, “that in sympathetic magic one
event is supposed to be followed necessarily and invariably by another,
without the intervention of any spiritual or personal agency. This is,
in fact, the modern conception of physical causation; the conception,
indeed, is misapplied, but it is there none the less. Here, then,
we have another mode in which primitive man seeks to bend nature to
his wishes. There is, perhaps, hardly a savage who does not fancy
himself possessed of this power of influencing the course of nature by
sympathetic magic.... Of all natural phenomena there are perhaps none
which civilised man feels himself more powerless to influence than the
rain, the sun, and the wind. Yet all these are commonly supposed by
savages to be in some degree under their control.”

Magic practices are, as a rule, primarily a kind of mimetic
representation combined with crude symbolism, or the latter alone may
be employed, as in the previously mentioned Bechuana custom.

We may regard pictorial representation of magic as probably indicating
a higher stage of culture.

Mr. H. Vaughan Stevens has recently made a number of valuable
observations in the Malay Peninsula; these have been edited by A.
Grünwedel,[142] and they throw a new light on the importance of
decorative art in the psychic life of savages. The Sĕmang tribes
are negritto in origin, that is, they belong to the short, dark,
frizzly-haired stock which probably were the original inhabitants of
that part of the world, and are consequently a more primitive people
than the Malays.

      [142] “Die Zaubermuster der Orang Sĕmang,” _Zeitschr. für
      Ethnologie_, xxv., 1893, p. 71; “Die Zaubermuster der Orang
      hûtan,” _loc. cit._, xxvi., 1894, p. 141.

The Sĕmang tribes, especially the Orang Panggang of East Malacca,
possess a kind of picture writing which, on the one hand, serves
to record mythological representations, name-marks, etc., upon
objects made of bamboo; on the other hand it forms the foundation of
complicated magic patterns which these tribes are accustomed to employ
as a means of protection against illnesses. But in so far as these
patterns are incised in the bamboo as prescriptions for the healing
herbs to be employed, apart from the protecting charm which lies
directly in them, those elements which go to make them up can also be
described as a kind of writing.

The magic patterns of the pure Sĕmang from East Malacca are found on
three classes of objects—

  1. The bamboo combs (_tîn-leig_) of the women.
  2. The bamboos (_gor_ and _gar_) which serve as quivers for the
      blow-pipe arrows and the tube of the blow-pipe. These are the
      protective devices of the men.
  3. The bamboos called _gi_, which contain all the ordinary
      patterns. With the exception of a remnant these have sunk
      into oblivion. No example is known.

The combs are worn throughout the whole Sĕmang district, but on the
western side of the mountain chain of the Peninsula, from Kĕdah to
Pêrak, these are used more as ornament, and the originals for the
composition of the patterns are forgotten.

The patterns on the combs exhibit flowers, or the principal parts of
flowers, which serve as simples against the disease. The combs are
only used by women against invisible sickness, etc., such as fever;
for injuries and wounds such as those caused by a falling bough in
the jungle, or the bite of a centipede, other means are employed. The
combs are not used for combing the hair. The women wear eight combs,
sometimes even sixteen, which are placed horizontally with the teeth
embedded in the hair and the handles projecting outwards; when eight
are worn, two are inserted in the front, back, and sides of the head.

The choice of combs depends upon—(1) The diseases which are raging near
the tribe; (2) the diseases which are most feared; and (3) the number
of women there are together.

According to the Sĕmang, the winds bring these sicknesses with them
as the punishment for some sin which Keii, the thunder-god, wishes to
revenge. The wind-demon, which is sent by Keii on this message, blows
over the head of the person and deposits the sickness on the forehead,
from whence it spreads over the body. The god Plê, however, gives to
the Sĕmang a magical remedy which the winds dare not approach, and so
the impending punishment is turned aside. If a woman is protected by
the right comb and the wind blows upon her head, the demon meets the
odour of the _wâs_ and falls down to the ground. If the _wâs_ charm
fails the _pâwêr_ charm comes to the rescue, so that the demon cannot
get any further, and recognising Plê’s power, it falls down and is
carried away by the wind. If the illness comes from behind it is held
back by _mos_, that is the representation which runs across the comb at
the insertion of the teeth. The calyx of a flower is called _mos_, and
exactly as the flower lies embedded in its calyx, so the parts of the
handle named _wâs_ and _pâwêr_ reach under the _mos_ line, although one
cannot see them, and are there just as effective as above.

When several women meet they wear different combs to protect
themselves and others from all kinds of diseases. Different _wâs_
patterns are necessary, as each sickness has its own wind, and the wind
does not bring any or all diseases. As a rule a _wâs_ is necessary for
each disease, without, however, excluding others, but sometimes it does
for about six. It does not often happen that the Sĕmang carves upon a
comb a pattern for any other than the one object in view.

The Sĕmang women usually possess from twenty to thirty combs, and they
lend them to one another. When in the huts and at night they lay them
under the roof. They are buried with the owner to keep the diseases
from the spirit which have been averted during life.

As to the origin of the custom, the Sĕmang unanimously declare that the
patterns of the combs were the invention of the god Plê for themselves,
and were not borrowed from any other folk. In former times the combs
had only three teeth. The teeth are merely a means for fastening. The
men wear no combs as their hair is kept short. Their magical remedies
are the _gor’s_ and _gar’s_. They say that in very ancient times women
carried bamboo sticks on which were cut the whole seventy disease
patterns. The _gi_ were stuck in the girdle.

The diseases for which the combs are effective attack women only, and
these, the men say, are mostly imaginary. Illnesses which attack both
men and women are kept off by the quivers and blow-pipes (_sumpit_) of
the men, as the women are generally not very far off from the men.

The handle of a typical comb is divided into eight transverse
bands, each of which has its own name. Above the broad central band
(_tîn-wêg_) are four narrow bands, while below it are three narrow
bands. The first and second band of the upper series are called
respectively _wâs_ and _pâwêr_. The uppermost line, above _wâs_, is
called _tĕpî_, the lowest line below the eighth band (_nos_), and
immediately above the teeth, is called _mos_.

[Illustration: FIG. 117.—Blossom of an Ixora; from Stevens.]

_Wâs_ and _pâwêr_ are the protecting figures, whose charm keeps off the
diseases. _Tĕpî, pâwêr_ and _mos_ are also parts of a flower, _wâs_ is
the scent, the stamens and pistil are called _tĕpî_, the line in the
comb above the wâs band has the same name, the lengthened tube above
the green calyx is known as _pâwêr_ and the calyx as _mos_. Two jungle
flowers now serve as _pâwêr_, one a kind of Ixora, but the botanical
name of the other has not been identified.

[Illustration: FIGS. 118, 119.—Magic combs of the Orang Sĕmang; from

In Figs. 118 and 119 we have two combs of the Orang Sĕmang, which
illustrate the method of decoration. They are intended for two
different diseases, the nature of either of which is obscure. The
pattern in the _tîn-wêg_ band of Fig. 118 evidently represents the
magical flower. The _wâs_ pattern in Fig. 119 is faulty, it is etched
in the original comb as in the upper band of Fig. 120: Whereas the
elements A, B, C should have been engraved, as in lower band of Fig.
120. Such slight mistakes as these in the decoration of a comb may
render the magic pattern of no avail against the appropriate disease.

[Illustration: FIG. 120.—Diagram of the uppermost pattern of Fig. 119,
with rectification of that pattern; from Stevens.]

If one looks through the patterns which represent _wâs_ and _pâwêr_ one
speedily finds that many are identical with each other, or are parts of
the patterns in the fifth band (_tîn-wêg_) which represent the illness.
The following account is given in explanation of this: as the magic
patterns were made by Plê, he wished, as he settled one pattern for a
definite disease, at the same time to make it known which flower blooms
most freely at the time when the illness rages, and he gave to both a
similar form. If _wâs_ and _pâwêr_ were obliged to get exactly the same
figure, in order to prevent confusion of the patterns with one another,
he ordained that differentiating marks should be added on the comb.

For us, who do not see the patterns with Sĕmang eyes, many deviations
appear in the figures. One reason for this is that the patterns of the
combs are mostly incised by young men and not by the older men, as is
the case with the quivers and blow-pipes. The young men, unskilled in
carving, and not always perfectly acquainted with the patterns, cut the
combs for their sisters and future wives. One mistake in the pattern
does not necessarily do away with the efficacy of a comb, as a Panggang
man once said, “It is like a gap or hole in a bird-trap: the bird can
hop through it, but it is always a question whether it sees the gap.”

All the figures of the combs, except the _wâs_, _pâwêr_, and _tîn-wêg_
must be of the very simplest kind. The rule is that they are borrowed
from a _wâs_ or _pâwêr_ pattern, but the special characters must be
omitted. The youths who copy the combs overlook this and insert in the
neighbouring bands the complete _wâs_ and _pâwêr_ patterns.

The magicians engrave various devices on pieces of bamboo, and, as will
be seen from the following examples, these magic staves are supposed to
be effectual for a great many difficulties and adversities.

[Illustration: FIG. 121.—Magical pictograph of the Orang hûtan against
the stings of scorpions and centipedes; size of original 9¾ inches;
from Stevens.]

Fig. 121.—This bamboo shows as its middle figure an Argus pheasant with
its two long ocellated tail-feathers. The wheel-like patterns at A
represent these eye-marks, the angular marks at B are the wings of the
animal. Left of the Argus is a long, orange-coloured centipede. The
head of the animal is drawn in the direction towards the tail of the
Argus. The lines with little dots on each side to the right and left of
the centipede are the tracks which that animal leaves on the skin of a
man. Two blue scorpions are represented on the other side of the Argus.
The figure at the end of their tails is a swelling in the flesh of a
person who has been stung by them. The female of this kind of scorpion
is more poisonous than the male, and is said to cause double stings.
Therefore the marks with two rows of points at C denote the sting of
the female, that with one row at D that of the male.

The significance of this bamboo is, “as the Argus pheasant feeds on
centipedes and scorpions, so its help is invoked against them by
striking the bamboo against the ground.”

[Illustration: FIG. 122.—Magical device of the Orang Bĕlendas against a
skin disease; size of original 19 inches; from Stevens.]

Fig. 122 represents the devices etched on a piece of bamboo against
two forms of a skin disease—the one exhibits leprous white ulcers, the
other hard knots on and under the skin. The lowermost marking, A, when
one holds the bamboo with the open end uppermost, represents the bank
of a river, in which frogs have sunk holes. The dots and lines are
these holes imprinted in the soft slime, some being under the water,
others being above it. The zigzag lines at B represent frog’s legs;
these limbs of the animal are abbreviations for the whole animal, which
is always conventionalised. Over these frogs one sees at C a pattern
which is used to represent different things; for example: (1) an
ant-hill; (2) a Hantu of an illness in the human body, whose effect is
felt like the crawling and biting of ants, and indeed this Hantu lives
in forsaken ant-hills; (3) the skin marked by this disease; or (4) even
the seeds of a melon, cucumber, etc. Here the figure represents an
ant-hill on the ground. Out of the ground there grow climbing plants
(D), whose winding round the trees is represented by the lines forming
the ovals; the little lines between these egg-shaped figures represent
the body of the partially very voluminous lianas. The little lines on
the outside of the twists when they are long represent thorns; but when
they are mere points they indicate the tracks of insects’ claws on the
bark. In our picture, as the lines are midway between long streaks and
dots, they represent ants in two groups, which are running up and down
the lianas. Immediately under the line above D one sees four figures
(1-4), which are respectively a bird, a butterfly, a caterpillar, and a
tree-frog. The band at E indicates a tree. The figures are to be read
off from right to left, commencing at the vertical line _x_, which
represents the trunk of the tree without leaves; to the left are five
similar figures, which are the fully developed leaves of the tree. To
the left is a dark beam with leaf-marks on the right side only, these
are the undeveloped young leaves at the top of the tree. Further to the
left is a dark beam, on each side of which are zigzags (_y y_); these
are branches.

The black line to the left at _z, z,_ represents the end of the lianas
which are drawn in D; these having sprung from the ground have reached
the branches of the tree.

To the left of this is the topmost part of the tree, with undeveloped
leaf-shoots on the left side. The sudden dwindling of this line is to
show the tapering of the tree stem towards its top.

Above this the pattern C is repeated, and the three rows above the
line show the spots on the skin, which are supposed to look like melon
seeds; the rows respectively stand for the head, body, and feet which
are thus affected.

Lastly, fish-scales are drawn to represent the leprous form of the
disease; these are also in three rows for the head, body, and feet.
They increase in size in order to show that they will gradually spread
over the whole body if not cured in some way. Just at the place where
the different rows of patterns end (when one reads from left to right)
there is a group of dots on the scales, which represent the last stage
of the disease; incurable holes out of which blood flows. They are
supposed to be like the wounds caused by the stings of any kind of
poisonous fish. These holes seldom appear on the legs.

The whole drawing is the remnant of an ancient pattern which was
employed as a charm by the old magicians of the Orang Bĕlendas. The
object of the pattern is even at the present time known to the laity,
but the story is probably lost as to how the figures came to be put
together in this way.

[Illustration: FIG. 123.—Rain-charm of the Orang Bĕlendas; size of the
original 10½ inches; from Stevens.]

Fig. 123 is a copy of a “_toon-tong_,” which the man who owned it
would not sell to Mr. Stevens. Its use is to produce rain when the
paddy-fields are suffering from an insufficient monsoon.

The oblique lines represent the rain driven by the wind, the lines
being the downpour and the dots are the rain-drops. The lines from left
to right stand for the north-east, and those from right to left for the
south-west monsoon. The curved lines mean a storm. The repetition of
the rain-figures means “much rain.”

Next to the rain on the right is a double row of tortoise[143] eggs
(double=many), as indicative of the tortoise, which is a representative
of dampness, moisture, and mud.

      [143] Probably a mud-tortoise.

The middle row of figures represents young “_piyung_” fruit. The
_piyung_ has fruit when the rainy season begins, and loses the ripe
fruit at its close. Hence it is drawn as symbolic of the rainy season.
There now are, as a matter of fact, piyung trees that have fruit in
the other months. Stevens showed some of these to the Orang Bĕlendas,
and was informed that in the time of their ancestors the piyung trees
had ripe fruit at the rainy season. Whether that was the case in their
original home, or whether another variety existed, has yet to be
settled. Probably the tradition of the Orang Bĕlendas is correct, even
if it cannot be cleared up on all points.

The decoration of one bamboo is a formula to enable a man who wishes to
build a house to easily find the necessary materials. Below is a band
filled with cross-hatching, like trellis-work, meant for the wall of a
house, and standing for the whole house; above this are several very
diagrammatic representations of burnt trees which have remained after
the firing of the jungle, a forked branch of tree which is used as a
prop, palm leaves for thatching, etc. The rest of the bamboo is divided
into longitudinal bands, most of which look like attempts at decorative
patterns, but they really signify a liana with many leaves, the
frame-work of the roof of the house, a ladder, split leaves interlaced
for thatching rattans, while a zigzag line means the long path which
goes from side to side, and thus indicates the obstacles which befall
the leaves for the thatch whilst they are being carried through the

One design is supposed to protect the harvest and the plantations
round the house from injurious animals. In it is represented a very
diagrammatic house. On the one side are plants with tubers growing on
the sides of a hill, for the Orang Bĕlenda generally clear the sides
of a hill for their plantations and houses. On the other side of the
house are depicted maize, the kĕlâdi (_caladium_) with its edible
tubers, three sugar-canes with the edible shoots at the roots, another
plant of maize, tapioca with its edible roots, a variety of yam with
its tubers, and a banana; in addition there are six immature trees, and
the punctate background denotes grass. The upper part of the bamboo
represents those animals which may destroy the gifts of the soil. These
are a caterpillar, a rat, two iguanas (monitors or lace-lizards, which
go after hens’ eggs); next each lizard is a tree with leaves where they
like to hide; a row of dots on each side of the tree-trunks denote the
upward and downward tracks of the animals at night. There is also a
tortoise with its young one, and a pair of crescentic lines indicate
the pool where the reptile lives.

Another carved bamboo helps women to catch fish, and also protects them
from poisonous ones.

To the uninitiated many patterns would appear to be simple decorative
devices, but Mr. Stevens has found that they have definite meanings;
for example, rattan may be conventionally represented by a straight or
a waved line, or by two waved or zigzagged lines which, when applied
together, form a series of ovals or diamonds. A cross-hatched band may
stand for a house, the marking indicating a wall or the floor. Zigzags,
like those in Fig. 122, B, indicate frogs’ legs, these stand for frogs
themselves, and these again are symbolic of water.

From the foregoing it is evident that it is only by making careful
inquiries from the natives themselves that the meaning of most of the
devices of savages can be elucidated. What we are apt to consider
as mere decoration may have a very definite magical or symbolic

Mr. Goodyear states[144] that Lieutenant Frank Cushing informed him
that the patterns which the Zuñis borrow from foreign ware are supposed
to endow their own pottery with the virtues of the foreign material and
manufacture, and that their use of borrowed patterns has this purpose.

      [144] _The Architectural Record_, iii., 1893, p. 139.

The same author,[145] referring to the decorative art of Ancient Egypt,
quotes as follows from Professor Maspero:—“The object of decoration
was not merely to delight the eye. Applied to a piece of furniture,
a coffin, a house, a temple, decoration possessed a certain magical
property, of which the power or nature was determined by each word
inscribed or spoken at the moment of consecration. Every object,
therefore, was an amulet as well as an ornament.”

      [145] Page 145.

The tying of magic knots is a common expedient in sorcery, as the
following extracts from a short paper by Dr. March[146] will prove. The
malevolent tying of a knot brought mischief upon a man, to be averted
only by counter-plotting and counter-knotting. Sickness was caused by
the invasion of a demon, or by spells wrought by an enemy; and evil
spirits had to be exorcised, and the knot of the spell-bound to be

      [146] H. Colley March, “Magic Knots,” _Trans. Rochdale Lit. and
      Sci. Soc._

The magical texts, found in a biliteral form, written in the Accadian
and the Assyrian tongues, furnish examples of which the following are

    May the god of herbs
    Unloose the knot that has been knitted.

    Take the skin of a suckling that is still ungrown,
    Let the wise woman bind it to the right hand and double it on
        the left.

    Knit the knot seven times,
    Bind the head of the sick man.

    So may the guardian priest cause the ban to depart
    From him, and unloose the bond.

Amongst the Fins and the Norsemen evil spells could be wrought by
malevolently twisting into a magic knot the fibres of certain trees,
sometimes the birch, but more often the willow; and to unloose the knot
was the surest way of undoing the mischief.

In the Sigurd Saga, Sigurd boasts to Eystein, “On the way to Palestine
I came to Apulia, but, brother, I did not see thee there. I went all
the way to Jordan and swam across the river. On the bank there grows a
bush of willows, and there I twisted a knot of willows which is waiting
there for thee. For this knot I said thou shouldst untie, brother, or
take the curse that is bound up in it.”

Tying knots as a means of witchcraft is still in force in the
British Islands, as may be seen in the publications of the Folk-Lore
Society.[147] These practices need not necessarily be with evil intent,
as the lovers’ knot had for an object the firm binding of the lovers’
affection to each other.

      [147] Cf. for example, _Folk-lore_, vi., 1895, pp. 154, 160;
      _Proc. Roy. Irish Acad._ (3), ii., 1893, p. 818.

It is probable that many of the knots carved on ancient monuments in
Northern Europe have reference to this magical practice, and it is
conceivable from what is known to occur elsewhere that a representation
of a knot might possess all the virtue of a real knot.

But knots in Scandinavian art have also a symbolic significance and may
be associated with Midgarth’s Worm and the serpents in the Norse pit of
perdition. On portals from Veigusdal Church, in Sœtersdal (now in the
Christiania Museum), are carved incidents from the favourite legend of
Sigurd. On one of them, according to Dr. March,[148] may be seen the
avaricious and ill-fated Fafni slain and utterly dismembered, passing
into a maze of beautiful scrollwork. The same story is illustrated on
two sides of the Halton Cross; here, however, the writhing knotted
throes that elsewhere signify Fafni’s death take the form of a knot,
Fafni himself not being represented.

      [148] H. C. March, “The Pagan-Christian Overlap in the North,”
      _Trans. Lanc. and Cheshire Ant. Soc._, ix., 1892.

2. _Totemism._

In the following brief account of totemism I borrow largely from a
small but peculiarly valuable book by Dr. Frazer.[149] “A totem is a
class of material objects which a savage regards with superstitious
respect, believing that there exists between him and every member
of the class an intimate and altogether special relation.... As
distinguished from a fetich, a totem is never an isolated individual,
but always a class of objects, generally a species of animals or plants.

      [149] J. G. Frazer, _Totemism_, 1887. (An expansion of the
      article on “Totemism” in the _Encyclopedia Britannica_, ninth

“Considered in relation to men, totems are of at least three kinds:—(1)
The clan totem, common to a whole clan, and passing by inheritance from
generation to generation; (2) the sex totem, common either to all the
males or to all the females of a tribe, to the exclusion in either
case of the other sex; (3) the individual totem, belonging to a single
individual and not passing to his descendants.” The first is by far the
most important, and we will confine ourselves to it alone.

“The clan totem is reverenced by a body of men and women who call
themselves by the name of the totem, believe themselves to be of one
blood, descendants of a common ancestor, and are bound together by
common obligations to each other and by a common faith in the totem.
Totemism is thus both a religious and a social system. In its religious
aspect it consists of the relations of mutual respect and protection
between a man and his totem; in its social aspect it consists of the
relations of the clansmen to each other and to men of other clans. In
the later history of totemism these two sides tend to part company;”
the social system sometimes survives the religious, or the reverse may

The members of a totem clan call themselves by the name of their totem,
and commonly believe themselves to be actually descended from it. For
example, I found that the following animals were totems in Torres
Straits: dog, dugong, cassowary, crocodile, snake, turtle, king-fish,
shark, sting-ray, giant-clam, etc. “No cassowary-man would kill a
cassowary; if one was seen doing so his clansmen would ‘fight him, they
feel sorry. Cassowary he all same as relation, he belong same family.’
The members of the cassowary clan were supposed to be especially good
runners. If there was going to be a fight a cassowary man would say
to himself, ‘My leg is long and thin, I can run and not feel tired;
my legs will go quickly, and the grass will not entangle them.’... If
a dog-man killed a dog his clansmen would ‘fight’ him, but they would
not do anything if an outsider killed one. A member of this clan was
supposed to have great sympathy with dogs, and to understand them
better than other men.... No member of any clan might kill or eat the
totem of that clan. This prohibition did not apply to the totem of any
clan other than that to which the person belonged.”[150]

      [150] A. C. Haddon, “The Ethnography of the Western Tribe of
      Torres Straits,” _Journ. Anth. Inst._, xix., 1890, p. 393.

The reader is referred to Mr. Frazer’s book for analogous beliefs and
practices among various peoples. The relation between a man and his
totem is one of mutual help and protection. If a man respects and cares
for the totem, he expects that the totem will do the same by him.

“In order, apparently, to put himself more fully under the protection
of the totem the clansman is in the habit of assimilating himself to
the totem by dressing in the skin or other part of the totem animal,
arranging his hair and mutilating his body so as to resemble the totem,
and representing the totem on his body by cicatrices, tattooing, or
paint” (Frazer, p. 26). As a matter of fact, there are comparatively
few definite statements that markings on the person represent the
totem of that person, but there can be little doubt that this is of
wide occurrence and probably has been universal. Some of the best
authenticated examples come from North America. Hints have come from
Australia. I have in Torres Straits seen four old women who had their
totems cut into the small of their backs; these were the dugong (2),
snake, and sting-ray (?), and I was informed that the men used to
scarify the shoulder or the calf of the leg with the totem device, or
they carried about with them pieces of their totems or effigies of them.

The latest information on this subject is that collected by H. Vaughan

      [151] “Die Zaubermuster der Orang hutan,” Hrolf Vaughan
      Stevens, edited by Albert Grünwedel, _Zeitschr. f. Ethnol._,
      xxvi., 1894, p. 141.

The Orang Sinnoi, Orang Bersisi, Orang Kenaboi, Orang Tumior declare
that they are descended from one and the same folk, but that each
tribe inhabited a separate island before the general immigration
into Malacca took place under Bertjanggei Besi. The Orang Tumior were
an exception to this collective migration, as they had long before,
independently, gone to Malacca.

The tradition of this tribe is very vague, but it is certain that they
lived a long time separated from the other members of the group. It
appears that they learnt at that time tattooing from another people,
and confounded painting the face with tattooing.

For each of the three tribes, Orang Sinnoi, Orang Bersisi, and Orang
Kenaboi, there was a distinct pattern, which was identical as regards
the way it was laid on and the materials employed, but which varied in
form. In each of the three tribes the chief and the ordinary man and
woman have the same race-marks. Only among the Orang Sinnoi the women
and ordinary men had a particular pattern for the breast. The sorcerer,
or medicine-man, in each of the three tribes wore during an act of
magic a painting suitable to the occasion; when not performing, he wore
his usual painting.

The following is given as the origin of the pattern of the totem and
its further development into the patterns of the different families:—In
the olden time, when the people of the Orang Bĕlendas still lived under
their chiefs and under-chiefs, paintings were made on the face for all
assemblies, which were the old indigenous patterns for the peninsula.
But as the group became broken up owing to the influx of the Malays,
and intermarried with foreign and weakened folk, the patterns fell
through and sub-divisions arose.

Among all the three tribes (Sinnoi, Kenaboi, and Bersisi) there was
once a powerful clan, which bore the snake totem. Owing to the many
changes they had to undergo, the members of this totem separated
from one another and founded new families in different parts of the
peninsula. The totem varied according to the practice of the folk, each
newly-developed clan modified the ground pattern, one took a python,
one a cobra, another a hamadryas, etc.; they all retained the snake
and varied their pattern according to the species. Similarly arose the
sub-divisions of the fish (sting-fish) and leaf clans.

These totem figures of the separated families then became used only
to mark out objects appertaining to them; they were scratched on the
blow-pipes and used as a face-painting when the whole family assembled
together on festivals or on important debates. As the great assemblies
of all the groups fell into disuse, the old stem-marks gradually became
worthless, so that, to-day, but few know the appearance of the old

As regards the materials used, all the Orang Bĕlendas agree in
saying that a red earth was employed, which is not to be found on
the peninsula. The so-called “anatto” (_Bixa orellana_) is used as
a substitute for this earth, but it is not worth much, as it fades
away in about an hour. The black colour is made with charcoal, the
white with lime. The red colour is always laid on with the finger,
consequently the stripe is narrower with the women than with the men.

These observations of Mr. Stevens, together with hints, rather than
definite statements, which have been made from various parts of
the world, suggest the conclusion that the painting, tattooing, or
scarifying of designs on the body is mainly due to totemism.

A good deal of body-painting has other significances, as when it is
done for religious ceremonies or for inspiring terror among the enemy
when on the war-path; but it would probably be fair to assume that
the origin of what may be termed domestic tattooing or scarification
belongs to totemism. Here, again, is a fascinating and unworked field
for research.

There is a very practical reason for the custom of marking the body
with the totem. The religious aspect of totemism has been briefly
described, this is the relation between a man and his totem; but there
is also the relation of the men of a totem to each other and to men
of other totems, or the social aspect of totemism, which deserves a
passing notice.

“All the members of a totem clan regard each other as kinsmen or
brothers and sisters, and are bound to help and protect each other. The
totem bond is stronger than the bond of blood or family in the modern
sense.... To kill a fellow-clansmen is a heinous offence. In Mangaia
[Hervey Islands] ‘such a blow was regarded as falling upon the god
[totem] himself; the literal sense of “_ta atua_” [to kill a member of
the same totem clan] being god-striking or god-killing.’”[152]

      [152] W. W. Gill, _Myths and Songs of the South Pacific_,
      p. 38. Quoted by Frazer, _loc. cit._, p. 58.

Persons of the same totem may not marry or have sexual intercourse
with each other. Amongst some peoples this rule is rigidly adhered
to; the penalty for infringing this rule may be the vengeance of
supernatural powers, but most frequently the clan steps in and punishes
the offenders. Amongst the more primitive totemistic peoples the death
penalty is usually enforced, but in any case the punishment is always
severe. When other social conditions modify totemism these sexual
restrictions are weakened and the punishment for offences is diminished.

There are some Australian tribes in which the members of any clan are
free to marry members of any clan but their own; but more frequently
an Australian tribe is divided into groups of clans, and a person can
marry only into certain of these groups; an exogamous clan-group is
known as a phratry. Thus a man is a possible husband to all the women
of one or more phratries of his tribe, but he is brother to all the
women of the remaining phratries.

“A remarkable feature of the Australian social organisation is that
divisions of one tribe have their recognised equivalent in other
tribes, whose languages, including the names for the tribal divisions,
are quite different. A native who travelled far and wide through
Australia stated that ‘he was furnished with temporary wives by the
various tribes with whom he sojourned in his travels; that his right
to these women was recognised as a matter of course; and that he could
always ascertain whether they belonged to the division into which he
could legally marry, though the places were one thousand miles apart,
and the languages quite different.’”[153]

      [153] Fison and Howitt, _Kamilaroi and Kurnai_, p. 53; cf.
      Brough Smyth, _The Aborigines of Victoria_, i. p. 91, quoted by
      Frazer, p. 67.

I am not aware that any one has attempted to study the totem and
divisional body-marks of the Australian tribes. This can only be done
through careful and laborious investigations conducted among the
natives; it cannot be accomplished in the study or in museums. If
Australian anthropologists do not bestir themselves without delay this
information will be irrevocably lost. Every year passed makes it more
difficult to do, and soon it will be too late.

The origin of tattooing or scarifying of the person receives a fresh
significance from these Australian customs. The marks appear to be, not
so much tribal distinctions for political purposes, but clan badges of
social significance with the object of preventing persons from falling
into the sin of unwitting clan incest; they are, in fact, religious
symbols which make for social purity.

It is obvious that the knowledge of these symbols has to be learnt
by the young people, and hence this forms an important part of the
information of lads imparted during the initiation ceremonies. The main
religious object of these initiation ceremonies is the assimilation of
the youth with his totem, and the consequent formal adoption into the
clan of that totem. Thence follows the social aspect of that adoption,
and the newly-made man is instructed in his social duties; he is taught
the code of sexual permissions and prohibitions, and the knowledge of
personal marks and gestures by means of which he can communicate his
totem to, or to ascertain the totems of, strangers whose language he
does not understand.

It is a common, possibly a universal custom, for totemistic peoples
to decorate their belongings with their totems. This is well known to
occur in North America. The Thlinkets paint or carve their totem on
shields, helmets, canoes, blankets, household furniture, and houses.
In single combats between chosen champions of different Thlinket
clans, each wears a helmet representing his totem. In front of the
houses of the chiefs and leading men of the Haidas are erected posts
carved with the totems of the inmates. As the houses sometimes contain
several families of different totems, the post often exhibits a number
of totems, carved one above the other. Or these carvings one above
the other represent the paternal totems in the female line, which,
descent being in the female line, necessarily change from generation to
generation. The totem is painted or carved on the clansman’s tomb or
grave-post, the figure being sometimes reversed to denote death. It is
always the Indian’s totem name, not his personal name, which is thus
recorded. Other examples will be found in Mr. Frazer’s valuable little

I have already (p. 17) referred to the delineation of totem animals on
drums, pipes, and other objects from Torres Straits and the adjoining
coast of New Guinea. Two representations of a totem are usually placed
symmetrically on the object; I rather suspect that this is the rule.
The cassowary is the most frequent animal on the drums, and I have
reason to believe that only a certain clan, or clans, can beat the
drums, in which case it is evident that the cassowary men are the chief
if not the sole musicians.

When the totem representations are realistic in character there is no
difficulty in recognising them; but this is by no means the usual case.
Abundant evidence has been given in this book of the degeneration of
animal forms into simple decorative devices.

Many savages, however, lay no stress upon realism. A certain simple or
complex mark represents a given object, it may not in the very least
resemble that object any more than the written or printed name of an
animal bears any relation to that animal. The mark is a sign for that
object, and if it can be recognised, it answers its purpose. In many
cases it can be shown that the mark is in reality a degraded picture of
the object, in a vast number of examples we have no evidence.

On looking through collections of Australian weapons in museums, or in
glancing over the illustrations to works on Australia, one is struck
by the fact that a large number of objects are decorated with simple
devices, and further that there is a very great deal of uniformity in
the designs. Considering the size of that continent and the numerous
tribes of its sparse native population, the paucity of artistic motives
is very remarkable. The conclusion is pretty obvious, these designs
must be representations of totems. At present we have no proof of this,
nor are there sufficient data for the collation and assignation of the

Dr. E. Grosse[154] is the sole anthropologist who has studied
Australian art, but he has not been able to do more than enunciate
general principles, owing to the absence of authoritative information
from the natives. It is to be hoped that residents in Australia
will learn all they can from the natives about their art before the
knowledge is lost.

      [154] E. Grosse, _Die Anfänge der Kunst_, 1894, p. 112.

A slight acquaintance with decorated objects from Australia will reveal
the very common occurrence of angular designs—zigzags, chevrons,
diamonds, and so forth. As Dr. Grosse truly says:[154] “One is
accustomed to describe these primitive ornaments as geometrical; and
then it is not difficult to confound the name with the thing, so one
quotes the geometric pattern occasionally as evidence for the natural
predilection of the simplest people for the simplest æsthetic motive,
but no proof is advanced for this peculiar predilection, because in the
bulk of the philosophy of art the _a priori_ method remains unshaken.
All primitive ornaments are not what they seem to be. We shall see
that they have at bottom nothing whatever in common with geometric
figures.... It is certainly not always easy to recognise the original
form of a primitive ornament. When one considers the zigzag or the
diamond pattern of an Australian shield, it appears that our assertion
is without doubt that this is destitute of animal forms, and it will
appear doubly certain when we acknowledge that in most cases we cannot
directly know it. It was certainly a wonder to us when we knew it.
The ornament of the Australians has been by no means systematically
investigated. Even in the comprehensive work of Brough Smyth it is
dismissed in some very general and very superficial remarks. In fact,
no one has so much as taken the pains to ask the natives the meaning of
the different patterns.”

Dr. Grosse then goes on to point out that “most of the ornament of the
lower folk, as far as it has been investigated and as the Australian
should be studied, is known to be imitations of animal or human forms.
Nowhere has ornament so markedly a geometrical character as among the
Brazilian tribes. Their rectilinear patterns suggest to a European, who
contemplates them in a museum, anything else rather than natural forms.
But Ehrenreich, who has studied them on the spot, has irrefutably
demonstrated that they represent neither more nor less than animals or
parts of animals.” In the section which deals with zoomorphs I describe
some of these remarkable patterns, and to avoid repetition I would
refer the reader to that description.

We must now review all the evidence which is before us, and slender
though it is, there is sufficient to justify Dr. Grosse in arriving at
his general conclusions.

P. Chauncy, in Appendix A. to Brough Smyth’s work (ii. p. 251),
writes: “Some of the ancients took much delight in ornamenting their
shields with all sorts of figures—birds, beasts, and the inanimate
works of Nature. In like manner, the natives of Western Australia—at
least some tribes north from Perth—adorn their narrow shields.” Brough
Smyth (i. p. 294) says: “In ornamenting their rugs they copied from
nature. One man told Mr. Bulmer[155] that he got his ideas from the
observation of natural objects. He had copied the markings on a piece
of wood made by the grub known as _Krang_; and from the scales of
snakes and the markings of lizards he derived new forms. The natives
never, in adorning their rugs or weapons, as far as Mr. Bulmer knows,
imitate the forms of plants or trees.” On p. 284 he says: “On a few
of the weapons appear rude figures of men and four-footed animals.
One figure of a man shown by lines on a club is in the dress and
attitude of a native dancing in a corroborree. The carvings are
confined to their weapons of wood. Not one of the bone implements in my
possession has a single line engraven on it. There are peculiarities
in the arrangement of the lines on the ornamented shields of the
West Australian natives which suggest that some meaning—understood
only by the warriors themselves—is conveyed by such representations.
The natives of Victoria often used forms the meaning of which is
discoverable now.... In like manner, the natives of the Upper Darling
represented on their shields figures in imitation of the totems of
their tribes. One in my possession has engraven on it the figure of
an iguana. Collins[156] states that in ornamenting their weapons and
instruments, each tribe used some peculiar form by which it was known
to what part of the country they belonged.” In the Introduction (p.
liv.) we read, “There are, amongst some tribes, conventionalised forms,
evidently; and it is of the utmost importance to ascertain to what
extent these are used, and by what tribes they are understood.” These
remarks are as applicable to the designs on weapons and other objects
as to the message-sticks to which our author was then more particularly
referring. After contrasting the drawings of the native human figure
by the Australians with the rude drawings of men made by European
children, he continues (i. p. 285): “In like manner the natives have
conventional forms for trees, lakes, and streams; and in transmitting
information to friends in remote tribes they use the conventional
forms, but in many cases modified, and in some cases so simplified as
to be in reality rather symbols than diagrams or pictures.” “They often
record events deemed worthy of note on their throwing-sticks” (ii.
p. 259).

      [155] The Rev. Mr. Bulmer, of Lake Tyers in Gippsland.

      [156] _An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales_,
      1804, p. 377.

Brough Smyth describes the various kinds of angular patterns delineated
by the natives of Australia, and concerning the figures cut on certain
boomerangs and other missiles from Queensland, he says (i. p. 285),
“All these forms have a meaning intelligible to the blacks of that part
of the continent.”

“The information which Bulmer has preserved,” writes Dr. Grosse,
“solves the problem of Australian ornament. It does not tell us
how we can interpret it, but it does tell us why we can know next
to nothing about it. If the whole form of an animal is represented
as an ornamental motive, it is possible to recognise it even in a
diagrammatic distorted representation, for this at least, as a rule,
approaches the original form; but in most Australian patterns only
portions of animals occur, and the natives most frequently delineate
their signs for skins; in this case it is next to impossible for
a European to elucidate their signification, especially as the
implicated natural forms are almost always conventionally rendered. Our
explanation is, as we previously stated, not strictly proved; but the
old doctrine, which takes primitive ornament for freely constructed
geometrical figures, is just as little so.”

Dr. Grosse maintains that his interpretation is in harmony with what is
known of the nature of primitive folk, and reminds us that Ehrenreich
has shown us that appearances may be deceptive. He then goes on to
suggest that the decoration on a certain shield that he figures is an
imitation of a snake’s skin, that on another shield the representation
of a bird, and the diamonds and zigzags scored on other shields as
conventional representations of feathers, hairs, or scales. Those
interpretations may or may not be correct, and the reader should be on
his guard not to take suppositions for facts. Dr. Grosse may have more
evidence than he has been able to present to his readers; but, while
adopting his main thesis, I do not think that, without such evidence,
we can identify the originals of the designs.

“Besides such skin-patterns,” continues Dr. Grosse, “Australian
ornament makes use of representations of entire men and animals. On
clubs and throwing-sticks one frequently finds the engraved outlines
of kangaroos, lizards, snakes, and fish, and especially frequently
the figure of a corroborree-dancer in a characteristic attitude. The
delineation of these figures is mainly crude and conventional; but in
spite of this their meaning is nearly always quite intelligible.”

“The Australian warrior stands in the same relation to his _kobong_
[totem] animal as the European knight did towards his heraldic animal
... and as the European warrior paints a bear or an eagle on his
shield, so the Australian ornaments his with a representation of
a kangaroo or a snake’s skin. The knowledge that the ornaments on
Australian weapons are to a large extent heraldic designs, clears up
at the same time two points which we have already mentioned, but have
not yet elucidated—the frequent employment of animal skin-patterns,
and their peculiar conventional rendering. The native whose _kobong_
[totem] is perhaps a very large animal—and in this position most find
themselves—manifestly can decorate his shield with no more suitable
clan-mark and no more efficacious fetich than the skin of his heraldic
animal. The actual skin may or may not have been employed, and in this
latter case an engraved or painted representation was substituted.
These representations are scarcely ever true to nature, most of them
remind one in their angular and stiff regularity more of a plait-work
than of a pelt or plumage.” Dr. Grosse goes on to point out that this
conventional treatment is intentional on the part of the Australian
native, and is not due to lack of skill either in the delineation
of animals or in wood-carving. “The fact is these skin-markings are
heraldic designs; but heraldic drawing aims at truth to nature as
little in Australia as in Europe. It therefore by no means happens that
the actual pattern of a kangaroo or of a snake should be drawn true to
nature, but it comes about that a kangaroo or snake-pattern represents
a definite clan.”

Although the greater part of Australian decorative art is probably
totemistic in origin, there is a residue, the elucidation of which must
be sought in other directions, but these do not at present concern us.

Mr. Andrew Lang has turned his attention to many anthropological
subjects, and that of “the art of savages”[157] has not been
passed over by him; but he has perhaps plunged into it without due
consideration. Doubtless he himself would now modify the statement
that “the absence of the rude imitative art of heraldry among a race
which possesses all the social conditions that produce this art is a
fact worth noticing, and itself proves that the native art of one of
the most backward races we know is not essentially imitative.” Instead
of “the patterns on Australian shields and clubs, the scars which they
raise on their own flesh,” being “very rarely imitations of any objects
in nature,” we may now regard most of them as probably indicating such

      [157] A. Lang, _Custom and Myth_, 1884, p. 276.

It is, perhaps, scarcely going too far to assert that a very
considerable part of the decorative and glyptic art of many primitive
peoples has been inspired by totemism; but it must be remembered that
we have no positive evidence of totemism among a very considerable
number of peoples. As animals are the most frequent totems, so
zoomorphs and their derivatives are as constantly in evidence in the
art of these people.

The artistic representations become modified as totemism itself becomes
modified. I can only very briefly allude to some of the probable stages
in the later evolution of totemism. The attribution of human qualities
to the totem is the essence of totemism, and the tribal totem tends to
pass into an anthropomorphic god. Mr. Frazer points out that there are
often numerous sub-totems associated with each of the main totems, and
suggests that there is a sort of life-history of totems, “as sub-totems
they are growing; as clan totems they are grown; as sub-phratric and
phratric totems they are in successive stages of decay.” He also
puts forward the view that these subordinate totems are regarded as
incarnations of the gods or god in process of evolution, and as the
latter rise more and more into human form, so the former “sink from the
dignity of incarnations into the humbler character of favourites and
clients; until, at a later age, the links which bound them to the god
having wholly faded from memory, a generation of mythologists arises
who seek to patch up the broken chain by the cheap method of symbolism.
But symbolism is only the decorous though transparent veil which a
refined age loves to throw over its own ignorance of the past.”

So far I have mainly referred to the employment of the representation
of totem animals as badges, but they are also made use of to indicate
descent. Ancestor worship is an important element in the religion of
many peoples, and the art which illustrates this naturally varies
according to the plane of culture at which a given people have arrived.
When a people are in a totemistic plane of culture their ancestors
will usually be represented as animals, the same holds good for those
that have but recently emerged from this phase. This we know is the
explanation of some of the well-known totem-posts and animal carvings
of the natives of British Columbia, and it probably holds good for many
of the intricate grotesque carvings from New Ireland.

When the totem has been evolved into an anthropomorphic god, human
(_i.e._ god) forms are represented in the genealogy, as occurs on the
decorated adzes of the Hervey Islands (pp. 270-274).

It is incorrect to term all worship of or attention paid to animals as
“Totemism.” In a great number of cases this may have been the origin
of a cult, but it is a mistake to apply the lower term when the cult
is sublimated into a higher form of religion. That a considerable
part of the religion of ancient Greece had its origin in Totemism is
generally admitted; but the animal attributes of most of their deities
would not characterise the religion of the most cultured Greeks as
totemistic.[158] The ox, the bear, the mouse, wild beasts and birds,
and similar associates of the Olympian hierarchy, whatever they were to
the ancients, are to us milestones which marked the road traversed by
Hellenic religion; the Egyptian had been petrified at an earlier phase.

      [158] Cf. A. B. Cook, “Animal Worship in the Mycenæan Age,”
      _Journ. Hellenic Studies_, xiv., 1894, p. 81. Mr. Cook says:
      “On the whole, I gather that the Mycenæan worshippers were not
      totemists pure and simple, but that the mode of the worship
      points to its having been developed out of still earlier
      totemism” (p. 158).

In the sacred bird of Western Oceania, we can probably trace the
commencement of totemistic sublimation.

The cult of the frigate-bird is characteristic of Melanesia, and
apparently also extends to the Pelew Islands. Dr. Codrington (_The
Melanesians_, 1891, p. 145) informs us that at Florida in the Solomon
Group they pray as follows to “Daula, a _tindalo_ generally known and
connected with the frigate-bird [a _tindalo_ is the ghost or spirit
of a man endowed with _mana_, that is superhuman power or influence]:
‘Do thou draw the canoe, that it may reach the land; speed my canoe,
grandfather, that I may quickly reach the shore whither I am bound,’
etc. Daula is invoked to aid in fishing ... after a good catch he is
praised.” On p. 180 we read, “The sacred character of the frigate-bird
is certain; the figure of it, however conventional, is the most common
ornament employed in the Solomon Islands, and is even cut upon the
hands of the Bugotu people; the oath by its name of _daula_ is solemn
and binding in Florida; where Daula is a _tindalo_, many and powerful
to aid at sea are the ghosts which abide in these birds.” Who Daula
was, when he was a living man, has “passed far away from any historical
remembrance” (p. 126).

In his interesting little book on _The Evolution of Decorative Art_,
Mr. H. Balfour gives illustrations of conventional representations
of the frigate-bird in the Solomon Islands (Figs. 11, 26). In Figs.
26, 27, 25, he shows a gradation between a “bird-like canoe charm,”
through a “human-headed bird canoe-charm,” to a “canoe fetich,” the
latter having a very prognathous human head.[159] The mergence of a
frigate-bird’s into a human head may be due, as Mr. Balfour suggests,
to one design acting upon the other, or it may be the artistic
expression of the cult described by Dr. Codrington.

      [159] In a letter Dr. Codrington writes: “I do not think that
      the very prognathous human head has anything to do with a
      bird. If you look at the very excellent coloured frontispiece
      to Brenchley’s _Voyage of the Curaçoa_, representing a canoe
      on a voyage, you will see that all the men are excessively
      prognathous. The original is in the Maidstone Museum. I have
      looked at my few Solomon Island things—a common bowl supported
      by two human figures, which are just the same. A carved bit of
      soft stone and the head of a betel lime stick, things just cut
      for amusement, have the same prognathism. In fact I believe
      that the ordinary representation of the human head is such, the
      more prognathous the better it is liked.”

The canoes of the Solomon Islands often have as a figure-head the
carved representation of the upper part of a man who holds in his hands
another human head.[160] The human figure is possibly an image of the
_tindalo_ in Daula. (Dr. Codrington states that a _tindalo_ is always
the spirit of a real deceased man.[160]) The carvings of birds on the
bow of a canoe are practically invocations to the sacred and powerful

      [160] “It is certain that, according to the Florida people (and
      their neighbours who use the word), a _tindalo_ was once a man;
      but there are some whose names they know and of whom they know
      nothing as men. I am by no means of opinion that there was once
      a man named Daula. The name of the frigate-bird being _kaula_
      in Ulawa is against that (k=t=d). Rather daula is the name
      of the bird, and the birds are vehicles of _tindalos_. So as
      every _tindalo_ who takes up his abode in a shark is Bagea in
      Florida (a common shark being _bagea_), so every _tindalo_ in
      a frigate-bird is Daula.”—DR. CODRINGTON _in a letter to the

The face or head carried in the hands of the human figure-heads
(“canoe god,” “charm,” or “fetich”) “represents that taken when the
canoe was first used.” A canoe of importance “required a life for its
inauguration.” Dr. Codrington (_loc. cit._, p. 296) alludes to other
adjuncts to the bow of canoes which give protection and success.

3. _Religion._

The opening remarks in the section dealing with sympathetic magic were
largely borrowed from Dr. Frazer, and I again have recourse to that
author for the following sketch of the incipient religion of primitive

The savage fails to recognise those limitations to his power over
nature which seem so obvious to us. In a society where every man is
supposed to be endowed more or less with powers which we should call
supernatural, it is plain that the distinction between gods and men is
somewhat blurred, or rather has scarcely emerged.

The conception of gods as supernatural beings entirely distinct from
and superior to man, and wielding powers to which he possesses nothing
comparable in degree and hardly even in kind, has been slowly evolved
in the course of history.

At first the world is regarded as a great democracy; but with the
growth of his knowledge man realises more clearly the vastness of
nature and his own feebleness; this, however, enhances his conception
of the power of those supernatural beings with which his imagination
peoples the universe. If he feels himself to be so frail and slight,
how vast and powerful must he deem the beings who control the gigantic
machinery of nature!

Thus, as his old sense of equality with gods slowly vanishes, he
resigns at the same time the hope of directing the course of nature by
his own unaided resources, that is, by magic, and looks more and more
to the gods as the sole repositories of those supernatural powers which
he once claimed to share with them.

With the first advance of knowledge, therefore, prayer and sacrifice
assume the leading place in religious ritual; and magic, which once
ranked with them as a legitimate equal, is gradually relegated to the
background, and sinks to the level of a black art. It is now regarded
as an encroachment, at once vain and impious, on the domain of the
gods, and as such encounters the steady opposition of the priests,
whose reputation and influence gain or lose with those of their gods.
Hence, when at a late period the distinction between religion and
superstition has emerged, we find that sacrifice and prayer are the
resource of the pious and enlightened portion of the community, while
magic is the refuge of the superstitious and ignorant.

Throughout the whole of this slow evolution ornamental art has
attempted to visualise the religious conceptions of the period. It
would probably be more correct to regard the pictorial representations
of religion as usually illustrating a past rather than a present
aspect of belief. For a drawing, like a creed, fixes a type, and the
form has a tendency to be repeated unconscious of the fact that the
spirit may have burst its bonds and soared into a higher region.

Not only does the motive of religious art vary according to the stage
of evolution of the religion which it illustrates, but the art itself
is subject to modification as it enters into new phases of what I have
termed its life-history.

Totemism is one phase of religion, but owing to its great importance in
the economy of primitive peoples I have treated it in an independent
section. As totemism gradually shades off into god-worship so its
artistic symbolism is merged into that of divinities, but it often
persists to an unexpected extent.

It is only possible for me to touch lightly on a few of the aspects of
religious art from the anthropologist’s point of view.

As the gods were being evolved it was very important for men to retain
the remembrance of those family ties between them and mankind which
were in danger of being snapped through the length to which they were
drawn and the degree of attenuation which consequently ensued.

The statements of tradition as to the descent of mortals from gods are
re-enforced by the representations of artists of the unlettered races,
just as they are enshrined in the written cosmogonies of more cultured
folk; the main difference being that any one may understand the one if
he knows the written characters, whereas the other is practically a
pictograph, and requires the interpretation of the natives who have the
traditional knowledge of the symbols.

We are probably justified in assuming that very early in time (and
it is still widely spread among backward peoples) was the custom of
carving or painting the pedigree of the man from the god—of the human
from the divine. As the god is lost down the ages in the totem so too
his eikon is merged into the resemblance of some animal-form. In the
intermediary stage we have those monstrous forms which the enlightened
pagans endeavoured to rationalise and even to spiritualise. “Yet half a
beast is the great god Pan.”

The beautiful wood-carving formerly executed by the natives of the
Hervey Group in the South Pacific affords an excellent example of the
relation of religion to decorative art.

The Rev. Dr. W. Wyatt Gill states that a significance is “invariably
attached to ancient Polynesian carving,” and he and a few other
missionaries have given suggestive hints, but without reference to the
actual designs.

Dr. H. Stolpe, of Stockholm, was the first ethnographer to study
Polynesian art from a scientific point of view, and his paper[161]
on Evolution in the Ornamental Art of Savages is a model of this
particular kind of research. He asserts “That the carved ornament in
Polynesia _always_ had a meaning.... Polynesians cling tenaciously to
ancient customs, though often they are no longer capable of accounting
for their original meaning.... If one asks the reason of a device or
a custom, one usually gets no satisfactory information.... Should any
one, therefore, to-day, ask a native of these islands whether the
ornamentation here delineated has any significance, and the reply
should be ‘no,’ I could not recognise in it any decisive evidence. Our
previous investigations suffice of themselves to prove that the forms
of development of the old primitive images, highly conventionalised,
_must_ have a symbolic significance. They symbolise, they stand in
place of, the primitive image. They are to be considered as a sort of
cryptograph. By means of perpetual reiteration of certain ornamental
elements, they suggest the divinity to whose service the decorated
implement was in some way dedicated.” A dozen years ago Dr. Stolpe
stated that the linear ornaments on the carved Mangaian adzes were for
the most part to be regarded as transformed figures of human beings, or
especially as divine beings. (Fig. 124.)

      [161] H. Stolpe, _Utvecklingsföreteelser i Naturfolkens
      Ornamentik_. Ymer, 1890. Translated into English by Mrs. March,
      “Evolution in the Ornamental Art of Savage People,” _Trans.
      Rochdale Lit. and Sci. Soc._, 1892; and into German, _Mittheil.
      Anth. Gesell._ Wien, 1892, xxii. p. 43.

[Illustration: FIG. 124.—Stretching-cleat of a drum from Mangaia, in
the Berlin Museum; from March, after Stolpe. Two-thirds natural size.]

[Illustration: FIG. 125.—Rubbings from the handles of symbolic adzes
from the Hervey Islands. A, Free Library Museum, Belfast; B, C, Belfast
Nat. Hist. Mus. One-third natural size.]

Mr. C. H. Read, of the British Museum, independently[162] arrived
at a similar conclusion to Dr. Stolpe’s, and Dr. March[163] has
carried the argument a step further. Dr. Stolpe proved that a design
generally known as the =K= pattern, but which it is better to call the
_tiki-tiki_ pattern, sometimes interrupted, but generally continuous,
is in reality a string of human figures, the two horizontal zigzags
being limbs, and the vertical bars that join them being the headless
bodies. (Fig. 125, A.)

      [162] C. H. Read, “On the Origin and Sacred Character of
      certain Ornaments of the S.E. Pacific,” _Jour. Anth. Inst._,
      xxi., 1891, p. 139.

      [163] H. Colley March, “Polynesian Ornament a Mythography; or a
      Symbolism of Origin and Descent,” _Jour. Anth. Inst._, xxii.,
      1893, p. 307.

These figures, which almost cover the handle of a Mangaian paddle or
adze, are obviously related to the female forms that are carved on the
terminal of its shaft (Figs. 127, 128), and are morphologically derived
from them by a process of evolution.

[Illustration: FIG. 126.—Rubbing of part of the decoration of a
Mangaian symbolic paddle, Norwich Museum. Natural size.]

The headless figures are quite recognisable in Fig. 125, A, but the
fore-arms and shanks of each of them are absent, their places being
taken by the upper arms and thighs of the contiguous figures. In B the
serial individuals are separated by narrow vertical clefts; the latter
persist in C, but the two boundary lines between the rows of figures
are fused into a single line.

In Fig. 126 we have a large area (the blade of a paddle) divided into a
number of parallel lines between which are diamonds, which may or may
not be connected by horizontal lines. A careful inspection will show
that the vertical lines are continuous body-lines; the horizontal lines
are the same as those in Fig. 125, A, but the two lines are fused into
one; the zigzags are clearly limbs. The absence of the horizontal lines
simplifies the pattern, and so each diamond consists in its upper part
of the leg, and in its lower part of the arms of human figures whose
bodies are represented by the vertical lines.

The pattern in the lower half of Fig. 127 can be derived from the last
by the introduction of an intermediate series of vertical lines.

Curvilinear patterns, as in the lower part of Fig. 128, are common on
objects from these islands; they are evidently derived from the thighs
of serial human forms, as in Fig. 127, and Plate VI., Fig. 13.

[Illustration: FIG. 127.—Rubbing of part of the carving of the handle
of a symbolic paddle from the Hervey Islands, in the Natural History
Museum, Belfast. One-half natural size.]

[Illustration: FIG. 128.—Rubbing of “part of the terminal of a
paddle-shaped implement in the Vienna Museum”; from March, after
Stolpe. Two-thirds natural size.]

“It is abundantly certain,” adds Dr. March, “that the forms that crown
the shaft are those of women, for they are invariably distinguished by
pendant-pointed breasts. The solitary exception that Dr. Stolpe has
been able to find is one in appearance only, for in his Fig. 23 the
breasts are really fused into a single cone, exactly as are the legs in
his Fig. 24” (p. 322).

Dr. March’s contribution is that these carved shafts of sacred paddles
and adzes were pedigree-sticks. Descent is traced through the male line
as a rule among the Polynesians, but it is certain that some tribes
traced their descent through the female line. Dr. Gill states that this
was in some places simply a matter of arrangement. Dr. Gill tells us
that the designs on these shafts were called “_tiki-tiki-tangata_;”
_tangata_ means a man, or in this combination connotes human, for in
a Polynesian word compounded of two nouns, that which comes last has
a secondary, explanatory, or adjectival force. _Tiki_ was the first
man, and when he died, ruled the entrance of the under-world. The name
signifies a “fetched” soul; the spirit of a dead man the frequentative
or plural _tiki-tiki_ must mean spirits in succession, or “ancestors.”
“The conclusion now drawn is that _tiki-tiki-tangata_ were the
multitudinous human links between the divine ancestor and the chief of
the living tribe. But to what ancestry did these pedigrees of female
lineage assert a claim? From what goddess was it the pride of Mangaians
to be descended, unless from the mother, the wife and the daughter-wife
of Rongo—from Tu-metua, Taka, and Tavake.

“In Mangaia all the gods were called the children of Vatea, and of
these Tane was one. His name indicates the generative principle in
Nature. In Mangaia he was especially the drum-god and the axe[164]-god;
he presided over the erotic dance as well as over the war-dances. Gill
observes[165] that ‘_Tane mata ariki_,’ Tane with the royal face, was
enshrined in a sacred triple axe,[164] which symbolised the three
priestly families on the island of Mangaia. This axe was buried in a
cave, and has disappeared. The =K= pattern which covers the shafts of
the sacred Mangaian axe,[164] is an assertion of a Tane pedigree, the
_tiki-tiki-tangata_ of the clan. ‘Awake Tane!’ was the invocation,[166]
‘Awake unnumbered progeny of Tane!’” (March, p. 331).

      [164] Probably an _adze_, not an _axe_.

      [165] W. Wyatt Gill, _Jottings from the Pacific_, 1885, p. 224.

      [166] W. Ellis, _Polynesian Researches_, 1840, i. p. 343.

4. _Religious Symbolism._

The study of religious symbols[167] is not only a very extensive and
extremely attractive undertaking, but it is one of peculiar difficulty,
for with it is combined, not a danger, but a certainty of falling into
errors. There is hardly a subject upon which such diverse views can be
proposed and even maintained with a fair amount of presumptive evidence.

      [167] Cf. pp. 119, 122, 213.

The danger of making mistakes is, however, considerably lessened if a
scientific method of study is adopted, and if speculation is reduced
to a minimum. No better example of the method of such a study is to
be found than in Count Goblet d’Alviella’s book on _The Migration of
Symbols_.[168] It is upon this valuable book that I have largely drawn
in compiling the following account.

      [168] _The Migration of Symbols_, 1894.

The meaning of the term Symbol, like the objects we connote by it, has
undergone a transformation from a concrete reality to an abstraction.
Originally applied amongst the Greeks to the two halves of the tablet
they divided between themselves as a pledge of hospitality, in the
manner of our contract form, detached along a line of perforations
from the counterfoil record, it was gradually extended to the engraved
shells by which those initiated in the mysteries made themselves known
to each other, and even to the more or less esoteric formulas and
sacramental rites that may be said to have constituted the visible bond
of their fellowship. Then the meaning became amplified, and “the term
came to gradually mean everything that, whether by general agreement or
by analogy, conventionally represented something or somebody.”[169]

      [169] _Loc. cit._, p. 1.

I have previously (p. 212) given Colonel Garrick Mallery’s definition
of the word, which sufficiently indicates the meaning generally applied
to it.

A pictorial symbol has the following life-history:—

First, it is simply a representation of an object or a phenomenon, that
is, a pictograph. Thus the zigzag was the mark or sign of lightning.

Secondly, “the sign of the concrete grew to be the symbol of the
abstract. The zigzag of lightning, for example, became the emblem of
power, as in the thunderbolts grasped by Jupiter; or it stood alone for
the supreme God; and thus the sign developed into the ideograph.”[170]

      [170] H. Colley March, “The Fylfot and the Futhorc Tir,”
      _Trans. Lancashire and Cheshire Ant. Soc._, 1886.

Thirdly, retrogression set in when new religions and new ideas had
sapped the vitality of the old conceptions, and the ideograph came to
have no more than a mystical meaning. A religious or sacred savour, so
to speak, still clung about it, but it was not a living force within
it; the difference is as great as between the dried petals of a rose
and the blooming flower itself. “The zigzag, for instance, was no
longer used as a symbol of the deity, but was applied auspiciously, or
as we should say, for luck.”[170]

The last stage is reached when a sign ceases to have even a mystical
or auspicious significance, and is applied to an object as a merely
ornamental device.

“By symbolism,” writes Count Goblet d’Alviella, “the simplest, the
commonest objects are transformed, idealised, and acquire a new and, so
to say, an illimitable value. In the Eleusinian mysteries, the author
of _Philosophoumena_ relates that, at the initiation to the higher
degree, ‘there was exhibited as the great, the admirable, the most
perfect object of mystic contemplation, an ear of corn that had been
reaped in silence; and two crossed lines suffice to recall to millions
of Christians the redemption of the world by the voluntary sacrifice of
a god.’”

As that author points out, “We live in the midst of symbolic
representations, from the ceremonies celebrating a birth to the funeral
emblems adorning the tomb; from the shaking of hands all round of a
morning to the applause with which we gratify the actor, or lecturer,
of the evening. We write as we speak in symbols.

“It is sentiment, and above all, religious sentiment, that resorts
largely to symbolism; and in order to place itself in more intimate
communication with the being, or abstraction, it desires to approach.
To that end men are everywhere seen either choosing natural or
artificial objects to remind them of the Great Hidden One, or
themselves imitating in a systematic manner the acts and deeds they
attribute to Him—which is a way of participating in His life.” The
symbols with which we will here occupy ourselves are not those of acts
or rites, but those of objects or emblems.

In all but the last stages of its career a symbol is a living sign, now
this vitality is very real, and by virtue of it, strange modifications
take place.

For example, when a nation that employed a particular symbol came into
contact with another nation that had a somewhat similar symbol, the two
symbols, if quite alike, were indistinguishable, and one passed for
the other; but if there were slight differences between the symbols
a process of amalgamation took place, and they approximated more and
more towards one another. In either case the meanings of both would
doubtless commingle, and a more energetic vitality would ensue from the

St. Anthony’s cross, =T= (_croix potencée_, “gibbet-cross”), is found,
with almost the same symbolic signification, in Palestine, in Gaul, and
in ancient Germany, in the Christian Catacombs, and amongst the ancient
inhabitants of Central America.

Among the Phœnicians and kindred peoples this cross was an alphabetical
sign, _tau_, and it was also used separately as a symbol. From a
passage in Ezekiel[171] we learn that it was accounted a sign of
preservation, and was marked upon the forehead, like its corresponding
Indian symbol.[172] The symbolic signification of the _tau_ is
explained by its resemblance to the Key of Life, or _crux ansata_ of
Egypt, so widely diffused throughout all Western Asia.

      [171] Ezekiel ix. 4-6.

      [172] Schliemann, _Ilios_, p. 350.

“This _tau_ was unquestionably the emblem of life, and, therefore, of
the greatest virtue. M. Letronne, in his researches on the Christian
monuments of Egypt, has shown in the most conclusive manner that
the first Christians of that country adopted this sign, possibly to
establish that Christ was pre-eminently the source of life, or as a
prophetic sign. All the gods of the ancient Egyptian mythology bore in
their hand the sign of Christianity, the monogram of Christ; they were,
according to the first Christians of Egypt, supposed to announce the
coming of Jesus.”[173]

      [173] G. Ferrero, _Les Lois Psychologiques du Symbolisme_,
      1895, p. 142.

The Double Hammer of the Celtic Tarann and of the Teutonic and
Scandinavian Thor is a symbol of the lightning. “Thor was the sun-god
proper; god of the sun in its active aspect; the thunder-god likewise,
and thus the wielder of the hammer or axe (named Mjolnir, ‘the
crusher’) representative of the thunderbolt, rendered in the form
=T=. Thor was also lord of the Under-World, and guardian against the
monsters that infested its precincts; he was likewise a protector
against sickness, and was much worshipped by the franklin and peasant

      [174] The Earl of Southesk, _Origins of Pictish Symbolism_,
      1893, p. 12.

“To this day a representation of the hammer of the God of Thunder may
be found on the barns and stable-doors of some German villages. It is
stated that in the northern, midland, and eastern counties of this
country—wherever, in fact, the Teutonic element has made its strongest
imprint—some old church bells still bear the same sign as a charm
against the tempest.

“As applied to Thor, this tree-shaped cross symbol sustains his double
quality as the fiery Cleaver of the Clouds, who even as such represents
the principle of fertility and the Sanctifier of the fruitful union of

      [175] Karl Blind, “Discovery of Odinic Songs in Shetland,”
      _Nineteenth Century_, June 1879, pp. 1097, 1098.

Karl Blind has also drawn attention to a mediæval German church legend
which affords a good example of the persistence of pagan ideas and of
the pagan-christian overlap. “Thus Trauenlob makes the Virgin Mary say
of God the Father—‘The Smith from the Upper-Land (Heaven) threw his
hammer into my lap (_schôz_).’”[176]

      [176] Karl Blind, “Troy found again,” _Antiquary_, 1884, p. 200.

Amongst the early Christians it was a form sometimes given to the Cross
of Christ, itself called the Tree of Life; but if they made of it a
symbol of life, it was spiritual life that it typified to them; and
if they sometimes gave it the form of the _patibulum_ (gallows), it
was because such was the instrument employed among the Romans in the
punishment by crucifixion.

In Central America, where, according to M. Albert Réville, the Cross
was surnamed the Tree of Plenty, it assumed also the form of the _tau_.
This pre-Columbian American Cross, =T=, was a symbol of fertility
because it represented the rain-god; it is, in fact, an abbreviated
rain-shower (as will be seen on reference to Figs. 62-64). Similarly
the four-rayed cross represented the four quarters whence comes the
rain, or rather the four main winds which bring rain, and it thus
became the symbol of the Tlaloc, god of rain and waters, fertiliser of
earth and lord of paradise, and lastly, of the mythical personage known
by the name of Quetzacoatl. From North to South America the Latin cross
symbolises “the Father of the four winds” (Argentine Republic), “the
old man in the sun who rules the winds” (Blackfeet Indians), or similar
personages. But all crosses are not the four quarters of the wind, as
will be seen on reference to Figs. 100 D, E, 102 A. For an account of
the American cross, Colonel Mallery should be consulted, _Tenth Ann.
Rep._, p. 724.

Mr. Beal, in the same number of the _Indian Antiquary_, which contains
Mr. Thomas’s remarks on the Svastika (March 1880), has shown that in
Chinese 毌 is the symbol for an enclosed space of earth, and that
the simple cross + occurs as a sign for earth in certain ideographic

      [177] Max Müller in Schliemann, _Ilios_, 1880, Eng. edn.,
      p. 349.

The four-rayed cross, separate or inscribed within a circle, is a very
common symbol of the sun in prehistoric Europe.

As different waves of culture drifted across Europe, as new religions
permeated the mass of the people, the stream-borne symbols found
physical and spiritual analogues among the indigenous symbolism, and
union naturally took place. In some cases, at all events, the cross
fertilisation, as I have termed it, resulted in a higher or more
spiritual meaning animating the old symbols; thus the symbol of the
Avenger, the crushing Hammer of God, became that of the God Redeemer of
the world.

When symbols become merely the dry-bones of defunct religions they may
retain a certain magical quality, but then they pass out of religion
and enter the domain of magic, where in fulness of time they may be
born anew and start a fresh career as the symbols of modern science.

Besides this natural approximation of analogous symbols and symbolism,
there is a more conscious and complex amalgamation, a heteromorphism.
As Count Goblet d’Alviella says,[178] “At other times the symbolic
syncretism is intentional and premeditated; whether it be in the desire
to unite for the sake of greater efficacy, the attributes of several
divinities in a single figure, as is shown in certain pantheistic
figures of Gnostic origin; or a wish to state, by the fusion of
symbols, the unity of the gods and the identity of creeds, as in the
mystic monogram wherein the Brahmaists of contemporary India have
testified to their religious eclecticism by interweaving the _Om_ of
the Hindus with the Trident, the Crescent, and the Cross.

      [178] _Loc. cit._, p. 264.

“Sometimes, too, the sacerdotal interest must have tended towards
accentuating the analogies rather than the dissimilarities of symbols,
in order to assist the absorption or unification of the doctrines
which they represented. Finally, we must take into consideration the
popular tendency towards syncretism, which, when not held in check
by a rigorous orthodoxy, acts upon symbols, as well as upon creeds,
by introducing into the new form of worship the images consecrated
by a long veneration. Or else it is the innovators themselves who
take advantage of symbolism in order to disguise, through borrowing
from antique forms, the newness of their doctrine and, if need be, to
transform into allies the emblems or traditions which they are unable
to boldly extirpate.

“Need I recall to mind Constantine choosing as a standard that
_labarum_ which might be claimed both by the religion of Christ and the
worship of the sun? The Abbé Ansault has shown, firstly, that heathen
nations used as religious emblems Greek, Latin, Maltese, _pattées_,
_gammées_, _potencées_, _ansées_, _trêflées_, and other crosses; and,
secondly, that the Christian Church has always accepted these different
forms of the cross as the representation of its own symbol.

“Buddhism was even less scrupulous. In some of its sanctuaries it
did not hesitate to preserve the images of the worship paid by the
natives of India to the sun, to fire, or to serpents, whilst ascribing
these rites to its own traditions. The Solar Wheel thus became
easily the Wheel of the Law; the Cosmic Tree represented the Tree of
Knowledge, under which Sakya Muni attained the perfect illumination;
the seven-headed serpent Naga was transformed into the guardian of
the impression left by the Feet of Vishnu, itself to be attributed
henceforth to Buddha, and so on.”

The learned author from whom I have borrowed so much gives numerous
examples of this process of the transference and amalgamation of
symbols, and I must refer the reader for these details to the book

A. _The Meaning and Distribution of the Fylfot._

The fylfot, or “fully- or many-footed” cross, is the Anglo-Saxon name
for that form of cross whose extremities are bent back at right angles
(Fig. 130). It is otherwise known as the “gammadion,” “tetraskele,”
“croix gammée,” “croix cramponnée,” not to mention various other names,
and in India “svastika”; but when the feet are turned to the left it
is called “sauvastika”; both these words have much the same meaning,
and signify “it is well.” At the present day in Asia, this “mystical
mark made on persons or things to denote good-luck” (as Monier Williams
describes it in his Sanscrit dictionary) is clearly in the third stage
of its life-history, and its meaning must have been introduced after
its primary significance was lost.

At the risk of being somewhat tedious I will give a brief account of
the distribution of this ancient symbol, than which there are very few
others so widely distributed.

Dr. Schliemann found it represented exceeding numerously on objects
(Fig. 130, A, E) from the “second” or “burnt city” of the mound at

In Greece, as in Cyprus and at Rhodes, it first appears on pottery
with painted “geometrical” ornamentation (Fig. 130, F), that is in the
second period of Greek ceramics. Later it is found on the vases, with
decorations taken from living objects (Fig. G) which appear to coincide
with the development of Phœnician influences on the shores of Greece.
Lastly, it became a favourite symbol on coins not only of Greece proper
and the Archipelago, but also of Macedon, Thrace, Crete (Fig. 130, M),
Lycia (Fig. 130, I), and Paphlagonia (Fig. 130, H).

From Corinth, where it figures amongst the most ancient mint marks, it
passed to Syracuse under Timoleon, to be afterwards spread abroad on
the coins of Sicily and of Magna Græcia.

[Illustration: FIG. 129.—Hut-shaped ossuary; I. Taylor, _Origin of the
Aryans_, p. 176.]

In Northern Italy it was known even before the advent of the Etruscans,
for it has been met with on pottery dating from the terramara
civilisation. It appears also on the roof of some of those ossuaries in
the form of a hut (Pl. I., Fig. C), which reproduce on a small scale
the wicker huts of the people of that epoch. In the Villanova period it
adorns vases with geometrical decoration found at Cære, Chiusi, Albano,
and at Cumæ. Finally, it appears in Roman mosaics.

It is singular that at Rome itself it has not been met with, so Count
Goblet d’Alviella informs us, on any monument prior to the third, or
perhaps the fourth century of our era. About that period the Christians
of the Catacombs had no hesitation in including it amongst their
representations of the Cross of Christ, and they used it to ornament
priestly garments. At Milan it forms a row of curved crosses round the
pulpit of St. Ambrose.

It was widely distributed throughout the provinces of the Roman Empire
(Fig. 130, S, T), especially among the Celts, from the Danubian
countries to the West of Ireland (Fig. 130, K, U); but in many cases
it is difficult to decide whether it is connected with imported
civilisation or with indigenous tradition.

[Illustration: FIG. 130.—Various forms of the Fylfot or Svastika. A.
Whorl from Hissarlik (1987), 7 m., third city, The Burnt City or Ilios;
B. Do. (1861), 3½ m., fifth city; C. Do. (1990), 4 m., fifth city;
D. Do. (1873); E. Detail from whorl (1993), 5 m., fourth city; F. Lotus
derivative on a large amphora, with “geometric” decoration, Cyprus;
G. Solar goose and lotus design on a Rhodian vase, from Salzmann,
_Nécropole de Camire_; H. Coin from Selge, Pamphylia; I. Symbols on
Lycian coins; K. Triskelion on a Celtiberian coin; L. On a silver
bowl, Etruria; also on Chinese ware; M. Coin from Cnossus, Crete; N.
Ancient Indian coin; O. On coin from Ujjan, Central India; P. Footprint
of Buddha (so-called), Amarávati Tope, India; R. Thibetian symbol; S.
Roman altar at High Rochester, dedicated to Minerva by Lucius Cæcilius
Optatus; T. Roman altar at High Rochester, dedicated to the standards
of the faithful of the Varduli by Titus Licinius Valerianus; U.
Celto-Roman altar at Birdoswald, dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus
(IOM), apparently by Dacians garrisoned in Ambloganna; the four-rayed
wheels were solar symbols among the Gauls; W. Ogham stone, Aglish,
County Kerry; X. Ancient Scandinavian symbols; Y. Legend on church
bell, Hathersage, Derbyshire, 1617. A-E, P. H. Schliemann, _Ilios_;
F, G. Goodyear, _Grammar of the Lotus_; H, L, O, X. R. P. Greg,
_Archæologia_, xlviii., 1885; I, K, M, N, R. Count Goblet d’Alviella,
_The Migration of Symbols_; S, T, U, W, Y. H. Colley March, _Trans.
Lanc. and Cheshire Ant. Soc._, 1886. For further details the reader is
referred to these authors.]

In England it not unfrequently occurs on Roman votive altars. In
Ireland, however, and in Scotland, the fylfot seems to have marked
Christian sepulchres. For example, a fylfot occurs on either side of
an arrow on an ogham stone (Fig. 130, W) in an abandoned graveyard at
Aglish, County Kerry, which is believed to belong to the sixth century.

In Pagan Scandinavia it occurs with other symbols (Fig. 130, X), but it
there ended by combining with, doubtless (as Count Goblet d’Alviella
points out) under the influence of Christianity, the Latin Cross. It
ornaments early Danish baptismal fonts, and according to Mr. J. A.
Hjaltalin, it “was still used a few years since as a magic sign, but
with an obscured or corrupted meaning,” in Iceland. It arrived in that
island in the ninth century, A.D.[179]

      [179] Karl Blind, “Discovery of Odinic Songs in Shetland,”
      _Nineteenth Century_, June 1879, p. 1098.

“Amongst the Slavs and Fins it has not yet been found save in
a sporadic state, and about the period of their conversion to
Christianity only. We may remark, by the way, that it is very
difficult to determine the age and nationality of the terra-cotta or
bronze objects on which it has been observed in countries of mixed or
superposed races, such as Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, and Bohemia.

“In the Caucasus, M. Chantre has met with it on ear-drops, ornamental
plates, sword-hilts, and other objects found in burial-places dating
back to the bronze period and the first iron age.

“Amongst the Persians its presence has been pointed out on some
Arsacian and Sassanian coins only.

“The Phœnicians do not seem to have known, or, at least, to have
used it, except on some of the coins which they struck in Sicily in
imitation of Greek pieces.

“It is not met with either in Egypt, in Assyria, or in Chaldæa.”[180]

      [180] Goblet d’Alviella, _loc. cit._, p. 40.

The svastika is of common occurrence in India, and is employed alike
by Hindus and Buddhists. It was used for ear-marking cattle, appears
on the oldest known Indian coin (Fig. 130, N), on which are other
interesting symbols, and occurs frequently at the beginning and the
end of the most ancient Buddhist inscriptions; similarly it initials
the legend SCA. MA. RIA. O.P.N. at Appleby, in Lincolnshire; and
at Hathersage, Derbyshire, a fylfot occurs on a church bell in the
initial G of the legend Gloria in Excelsis Deo, 1617. (Fig. 130, Y.)
The svastika represents, according to Buddhist tradition, the first of
the sixty-five marks which distinguished the Master’s feet, and the
sauvastika is the fourth and the third, a kind of labyrinth which is
akin to the latter. It is inscribed thrice on each sole and on each
digit of the famous sculptured footprints of Gautama at Amarávati.
(Fig. 130, P.)

“Even at the present day, according to Mr. Taylor, the Hindus, at the
time of the new year, paint a svastika in red at the commencement of
their account books, and in their weddings and other ceremonies they
sketch it in flour on the floors of their houses. It also figures at
the end of manuscripts of a recent period—at least under a form which,
according to M. Kern, is a development of the tetraskele”[181] (_i.e._,
a variety with rounded angles).

      [181] _Loc. cit._, p. 42.

The Buddhist women of Thibet ornament their skirts with it, and it is
placed on the breast of the dead. A Thibetian form is seen in Fig. 130,

The Buddhists introduced it into China (Fig. 130, L) and Japan, where
it adorns vases, caskets, and the representations of divinities; it is
even figured upon the breasts of certain statues of Buddha. According
to M. G. Dumoutier, it is nothing else than the ancient Chinese
character _che_, which implies the idea of perfection, of excellence,
and would seem to signify the renewal and the endless duration of life.
This suggests that the symbol was brought by the Chinese across Asia in
their wandering from the West to their present home; but against this
view must be put the fact of its absence in Chaldea and Assyria; and
we know it has been introduced by the Buddhist missionaries. In Japan,
according to M. de Milloué, it represents the number 10,000, which
symbolises that which is infinite, perfect, excellent, and is employed
as a sign of felicity.

Schliemann[182] also records the fylfot in Africa, on bronzes brought
from Coomassie by the English Ashantee expedition in 1874. It is known
from South America, on a calabash from the Lenguas tribe; in North
America, on pottery from the mounds; and from Yucatan, on Zuñi pottery,
as also on the rattles made from a gourd which the Pueblos Indians use
in their religious dances. I have heard that bronze representations of
the fylfot have been obtained from excavations in Ohio, the details of
which will shortly be published.

      [182] _Ilios_, 1880, Eng. edn., p. 353.

There can be no doubt that the fylfot throughout Eur-Asia had a
symbolic significance, which in many places it still retains. Its
longevity is due to this cause alone; occasionally, when it was copied
by peoples who did not understand or appreciate its symbolism, it
degenerated into a mere ornamental device.

Although all phases of symbolic meaning are interesting, I must
restrict myself to origins and to a few of the later developments of
this particular symbol.

The interpretations of the fylfot have been particularly varied, and
these have been further complicated by this sign having been confounded
with the _crux ansata_ of the Egyptians, the _tau_ of the Phœnicians,
the _vajra_ of India, the Hammer of Thor, or the Arrow of Perkun. All
these have a clearly defined form and meaning, and even if the fylfot
“ever replaced one of them—as in the catacombs it sometimes takes the
place of the Cross of Christ—it only did so as a substitute, as the
symbol of a symbol.”[183]

      [183] Goblet d’Alviella, _loc. cit._, p. 45.

Some archæologists have ascribed a phallic import to the fylfot, others
recognise in it the symbol of the female sex; “but it may very well
have furnished a symbol of fecundity, as elsewhere a common symbol of
prosperity and of salvation, without therefore being necessarily a
phallic sign.”[184] These are probably secondary meanings superadded to
a primitive and less abstract conception.

      [184] _Loc. cit._, p. 45.

It has been held to indicate water, storm, lightning, fire, or even
the Indian fire-drill, the “mystic double arani,” mentioned in one of
the Vedic hymns to Agni, the fire-god. These views have been combated
by Greg,[185] Colley March,[186] and Goblet d’Alviella.[187] Mr. Greg
contends that the fylfot is a symbol of the air or sky, or rather of
the god who rules the phenomena of the atmosphere, by whatever name
men may call him. Dr. March’s theory is that it symbolises axial
rotation, and not merely gyratory motion; in fact, the axis of the
heavens, the celestial pole, round which revolve all the stars of the
firmament once in twenty-four hours. This appearance of rotation is
especially impressive in the Great Bear, the largest and brightest
of the Northern constellations.... About four thousand years ago,
the apparent pivot of rotation was not where it is now, but occupied
a point at a _Draconis_ much nearer to the Great Bear, whose rapid
circular sweep must then have been far more striking than it is at
present. In addition to the name Ursa Major, the Latins called this
constellation Septentriones, ‘the seven ploughing oxen’ that dragged
the stars round the pole, and the Greeks called it ἕλικη, from its
vast spiral movement.”[188]

      [185] R.P. Greg, “The Fylfot and the Swastika,” _Archæologia_,
      1885, p. 293.

      [186] H. Colley March, “The Fylfot and the Futhorc Tir,”
      _Trans. Lanc. and Ches. Ant. Soc._, 1886.

      [187] _Loc. cit._, pp. 44 _et seq._

      [188] We read in the fifth book of the _Odyssey_ (v. 270)
      how Odysseus “sate and cunningly guided the craft with the
      helm, nor did sleep fall upon his eyelids, as he viewed the
      Pleiads and Boötes, that setteth late, and the Bear, which they
      likewise call the Wain, which turneth ever in one place, and
      keepeth watch upon Orion, and alone hath no part in the baths
      of Ocean.”

There is no need to follow Dr. March in his explanation, and we must
now turn to the view which has been supported by the greatest number of
investigators, who “have succeeded, by their studies of Hindu, Greek,
Celtic, and ancient German monuments, in establishing the fact that the
gammadion has been, among all these nations, a symbolic representation
of the sun or of a solar god.” Count Goblet d’Alviella reinforces this
theory by the following considerations:—

1. _The form of the fylfot._—To be convinced that _the branches of the
fylfot are rays in motion_ it is only necessary to cast one’s eyes on
the manner in which, at all times, the idea of solar movement has been
graphically expressed. Thus on a whorl from Troy, crooked rays, turned
towards the right, alternate with straight and undulating rays, all of
which proceed from the same disc (Fig. 130, E).

2. _The triskele, formed by the same process as the tetraskele, was an
undeniable representation of the solar movement._—On coins from Asia
Minor the triskele is frequently represented as three legs, and on
Celtiberian coins (Fig. 130, K) the face of the sun appears between
the legs. On the coins of Aspendus in Pamphylia the three legs are
combined with animal representations of the sun, the eagle, the wild
boar, and the lion; and on certain coins of Syracuse the triskele
permutes with the solar disc above the quadriga and the winged horse.
In various places transition occur between the tetraskele and triskele
(Fig. 130, I). I have already (p. 213) referred to the ultimate fate of
the triskele.

3. _The images oftenest associated with the fylfot are representations
of the sun and the solar divinities._—The fylfot and the solar disc
are, in a way, counterparts, not only amongst the Greeks, the Romans,
and the Celts, but also with the Hindus, the Chinese, and the Japanese.
The two are often combined into one figure, and the rays have been
converted into horses’ heads, as on Gallo-Belgic coins, or into cocks’
heads and lions’ busts which take the place of the rays of the triskele
on Lycian coins. Professor Goodyear points out that the fylfot is
associated on Cyprian and Rhodian pottery with the goose (Fig. 130, G),
deer, antelope, ibex, ram, horse, lion, etc. All of these are solar
animals. It is associated with the lotus (Fig. 130, F), which is also a
solar symbol.

4. _In certain symbolic combinations the fylfot alternates with
the representation of the sun._—Among the Jains of modern India, a
considerable Hindoo sect, the sun appears to be represented by the
svastika, and this symbol and the solar disc constantly replace each
other on the ancient coins of Ujjain in Central India (Fig. 130, O),
and Andhra in the Deccan. Another proof of the equivalence between
the fylfot and the sun, or, at least, the light of the sun, is found
amongst the coins of the ancient city of Mesembria in Thrace. Professor
Percy Gardner states, “Mesembria, as it stands, is simply the Greek
word for “noon” or mid-day (μεσημβρία); and there can be no doubt
that the Greek inhabitants would suppose their city to be the place
of noon; and among the coins of Mesembria occurs ΜΕΣ卐.”
Five-rayed and three-rayed (triskele) sun symbols were associated with
Apollo on coins of Megara, now Mesembria was founded by a colony of

Sometimes three solar discs or three fylfots, or combinations of both,
occur (Figs. 130, B, C), and in these Count Goblet d’Alviella sees a
symbolic representation of the three diurnal positions of the sun,
and suggests that when four symbols occur crosswise, as frequently
happens (Fig. 130, D), they “relate to four different positions of the
luminary, which would, perhaps, suggest no longer its daily course, but
its annual revolution marked by the solstices and equinoxes.”[189]

      [189] The importance of astronomical lore in the cults of
      ancient civilisations is being more forcibly brought home to
      us as the remains of antiquity are being more critically and
      sympathetically investigated. Professor D’Arcy W. Thompson,
      Junr., has recently published a suggestive paper (“On Bird
      and Beast in Ancient Symbolism,” _Trans. Roy. Soc., Edin._,
      xxxviii., Pt. 1, 1895, p. 179) in which he suggests that
      many of the Greek representations of animals on monument or
      coin indicate not the creatures themselves but their stellar
      namesakes. M. J. Svoronos (“Sur la signification des types
      monétaires des anciens,” _Bull. Correspondance Hellénique_,
      1894) had simultaneously and independently arrived at a similar
      conclusion, but D’Arcy Thompson carries the argument a step
      further, and attempts to show that the associated emblems
      correspond to the positions relative to one another of the
      heavenly bodies, in some cases to the configuration of the sky
      at critical periods of the year, or at the festival seasons of
      the cities to which the coins belong.

      “The stellar symbolism that I here advocate is, I maintain,
      a different thing from the sun-myths, dawn-myths, and so
      forth, which are now to a large extent deservedly repudiated.
      We cannot ascribe to the civilised nations of antiquity the
      puerile conceptions of nature that are congruent with a
      stage of awakening intelligence and with the crude results
      of untrained observation. Rather are we dealing with the
      elaborated gain of ages of scientific knowledge, with the
      thoughts of a people whose very temples were oriented to
      particular stars, or to critical points in the journey of the
      sun; whose representations of Art, on frieze and pediment, in
      tragedy and epic, were governed by what would at first appear
      to be a tyrannical convention, which convention, however, so
      far from hampering their genius, seems, under the influence
      of a wholesome restraint, to have moulded their art into more
      beautiful, more poetic, and more sanctified forms.... The
      dominant priesthood, whose domain was knowledge, holding the
      keys of treasured learning opened the lock with chary hand, and
      veiled plain speech in fantastic allegory. In such allegory
      Egyptian priests spoke to Greek travellers, who came to them as
      Dervish-pilgrims or Wandelnde Studenten.... At Olympia, in the
      beginning of each Leap-year cycle, the noblest youth of Greece
      raced, round the symbolic pillars, their horses emblematic of
      the Horses of the Sun; thereby glorifying a God whom they thus
      ignorantly worshipped. Even so, we read in the Second Book
      of Kings [xvii. 16; xxi. 3, 5; xxiii. 5] how their Phœnician
      cousins worshipped with like ceremony the same God. And all the
      while, in the evening and the morning, priests and πρόσπολοι
      watched, measured, and compared the rising and setting of sun
      and stars, in temples that were astronomical observatories, to
      the glory of a religion whose mystery was astronomic science.”

The fylfot would seem to occasionally replace the moon. On coins of
Cnossus, in Crete (Fig. 130, M), the Lunar Crescent takes the place of
the solar disc in the centre of the fylfot; in such instances it may
have been applied to the revolutions or even the phases of the moon.

Various suggestions have been made with regard to the reversed fylfot
or sauvastika, but it is still uncertain whether this is of primary
(Max Müller, Birdwood, Colley March) or secondary importance (Greg,

      [190] P. Gardner, “Ares as a Sun-god,” _Numismatic Chronicle_,
      xx., N.S., 1880, p. 59.

The last theory of the origin of the fylfot that I need mention is that
propounded by Professor Goodyear[191] in the following words:—“There is
no proposition in archæology which can be so easily demonstrated as the
assertion that the swastika is originally a fragment of the Egyptian
meander, provided Greek geometric vases are called in evidence.”
Professor A.S. Murray long since suggested that the “crosses which
Dr. Schliemann calls _svastikas_, but which, in fact, appear to be
only the simplest form or element of the meander pattern.”[192] Sir G.
Birdwood says: “I believe the Buddhist swastika to be the origin of
the key-pattern ornament of Chinese decorative art.”[193] Professor
Goodyear makes him say that of Greek decorative art as well.

      [191] _The Grammar of the Lotus_, p. 352.

      [192] “On the Pottery of Cyprus,” Appendix to General L. P. di
      Cesnola’s _Cyprus_, 1877, p. 410.

      [193] _The Industrial Arts of India_, 1880, i. p. 107.

It is a pity that Mr. Goodyear has pledged himself so fully as in the
statement just quoted, as it is apt to make critics more captious as
to his main thesis. If the fylfot is a detached intersection of the
meander pattern, why did not the Egyptians hit on it? Granting that
the meander may have had an indirect origin from a natural object in
the Mediterranean countries, there is no proof that any religious or
magical meaning was attached to it. The manner in which the fylfot was
employed proves that it certainly had a symbolic signification. The
strongest argument adduced by Professor Goodyear is in the case of some
“geometrically” decorated Greek vases, in which between solar geese and
other symbols occurs a small panel, which is variously decorated with a
fylfot, or an element or varietal detail of the meander pattern.[194]
But this, after all, may prove to be nothing more than that the Greeks
noticed that the fylfot occurred in certain varieties of the meander
pattern which had been arrived at from quite a different source. This
occurrence of the fylfot in these patterns was quite accidental;
it would be better to say that a fylfot design could be picked out
from these patterns rather than to suggest that it was inherent in
them. Granting the sacred associations of the fylfot, the fact that
it could be separated from a pattern which itself may have had a
recognised association with the symbolic lotus would probably appeal
to a symbol-loving people. If they recognised that the fylfot on the
one hand, and the lotus on the other, were sun-symbols, the isolation
of the associate of a sun-symbol into another sun-symbol would be a
pleasing exercise of ingenuity. I do not pretend to say that this has
occurred, but it is to me quite a possible alternative. The sequence
which Professor Goodyear seeks to establish appears to me to be nothing
more than the birth of an analogy.

      [194] _Loc. cit._, p. 353.

Before a judgment upon the Chinese meander pattern can be pronounced it
would be necessary to make a detailed study of that pattern on objects
from that part of the world, and I have not access to the requisite

We now come to the interesting question of the birthplace of this
important symbol.

It was long ago remarked that the fylfot is almost exclusively an Aryan
symbol. It is completely absent among the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the
Assyrians, and even the Phœnicians, although these middle-men traded
useful objects and sacred symbols indiscriminately. The Semites did not
employ it.

Although widely spread and venerated among the Tibetians (Fig. 130,
R), the Chinese (Fig. 130, L), and the Japanese, it can be proved that
these Mongolian peoples have adopted it along with Buddhism from India.

As a recognised religious symbol it is unknown among all the other
peoples of the globe.

The conclusion is evident that the fylfot was a symbol before the
swarming-off of the Aryan hordes. There seems little doubt that it was
originally an emblem of the sun. It may, in certain combinations, have
come to symbolise the apparent daily movement of the sun, and perhaps
also the annual change of seasons. Some see in it the symbol of a
sun-god, others believe it to be the god of the sky, or air, who in the
course of time was variously known as Indra, Zeus, Jupiter, Thor, etc.
Lastly, it has been promoted to signify “the emblem of the divinity
who comprehended all the gods, or, again, of the omnipotent God of the
universe.” This latter is certainly not a primitive conception, and we
have no evidence that this meaning was ever read into the symbol.

Count Goblet d’Alviella points out that in Europe the geometric style
of ornamentation embraces two periods, that of painted and that of
incised decoration. “Now in this latter period, which is everywhere the
most ancient, the gammadion is only found on the whorls of Hissarlik
and the pottery of the Terramares. We have, therefore, two early homes
of our symbol, one on the shores of the Hellespont, the other in the
north of Italy.

“Was it propagated from one country to another by the usual medium of
commerce? It must be admitted that at this period the relations between
the Troad and the basin of the Po were very doubtful. Etruria certainly
underwent Asiatic influences; but whether the legendary migration of
Tyrrhenius and of his Lydians be admitted or not, this influence was
only felt at a period subsequent to the ‘palafittes’ [pile dwellings]
of Emilia, if not to the Necropolis of Villanova.

“There remains, therefore, the supposition that the gammadion might
have been introduced into the two countries by the same nation.

“We know the Trojans came originally from Thrace. There is, again,
a very plausible tradition to the effect that the ancestors, or
predecessors, of the Etruscans, and, in general, the earliest known
inhabitants of northern Italy, entered the peninsula from the north or
north-east, after leaving the valley of the Danube. It is, therefore,
in this latter region that we must look for the first home of the
gammadion. It must be remarked that when, later on, the coinage
reproduces the types and symbols of the local religions, the countries
nearest the Danube, such as Macedon and Thrace, are amongst those
whose coins frequently exhibit the gammadion, the traskele, and the
triskele. Besides, it is especially at Athens that it is found on
the pottery of Greece proper, and we know that Attica is supposed to
have been primitively colonised by the Thracians. ‘The nations who
had invaded the Balkan peninsula and colonised Thrace,’ writes M.
Maspero, ‘crossed, at a very early period, the two arms of the sea
which separated them from Asia, and transported there most of the names
which they had already introduced into their European home. There were
Dardanians in Macedon, on the borders of the Axios, as in the Troad,
on the borders of the Ida, Kebrenes at the foot of the Balkans, and
a town, Kebrene, near Ilium.’[195] Who will be astonished that these
emigrants had taken with them, to the opposite shore of the Hellespont,
the symbols as well as the rites and traditions which formed the basis
of their creed in the basin of the Danube?

      [195] G. Maspero, _Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient_,
      1886, p. 241, quoted by Count G. d’Alviella.

“Even when it occurs in the north and west of Europe, with objects
of the bronze period, it is generally on pottery recalling the vases
with geometric decorations of Greece and Etruria, and later, on coins
reproducing, more or less roughly, the monetary types of Greece. It
seems to have been introduced into Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway,
and Iceland, in the same manner as that in which the runic writing was
brought from the Danube valley to the shores of the Baltic and the
ocean. It may have penetrated into Gaul, and from there into England
and Ireland, either through Savoy, from the time of the ‘palafittes,’
or with the pottery and jewelry imported by sea and by land from the
East, or, lastly, with the Macedonian coins which represent the origin
of Gallic coinage.

“We have already seen how it was brought among the islands of the
Mediterranean, and into Greece proper, then from Greece to Sicily and
even Southern Italy. It must be observed that even at Rome it seems to
have always been connected with the traditions of the East. We must not
forget that the Christianity of the Catacombs was likewise a religion
of Oriental origin.”

So much for the western fylfot. The oriental form even in the extreme
east of Asia can be traced without difficulty to the svastika of
India. There can be no doubt that the fylfot and the svastika are
genetically allied, but it is not at present very easy to demonstrate
all the links of the chain. Here again I quote from Count Goblet

“The svastika does not appear on the coins struck in Bactriana, or
in India, by Alexander and his Indo-Greek successors. Even amongst
the Indo-Scythians, whose coinage copies the Greek types, it is only
visible on barbarous imitations of the coins of Basu Deva. On the other
hand, as we have shown, it adorns the coins of Krananda and the most
ancient monetary ingots of India. Moreover, Panina, who already makes
mention of the svastika, is sometimes considered to have lived in the
middle of the fourth century B.C. It might therefore be possible that
the Hindus had known the svastika before feeling in their arts, and
even in their symbolism, the influence of the Greek invasion.

“Yet, for the best of reasons, it is neither the Chaldæans, the
Assyrians, the Phœnicians, nor even the Egyptians, who can have
imported the gammadion to Hindustan.

“There only remain, then, the Persians, whose influence on the nascent
arts of India was certainly felt before Alexander. But in Persia
itself the gammadion only appears as an exception on a few rare coins
approaching our era.

“Perhaps we would do well to look towards the Caucasus, where the
antique ornaments with gammadions, collected by M. Chantre, lead us
back to a civilisation closely enough allied, by its industrial and
decorative types, to that of Mycenæ.

“Until new discoveries permit us to decide the question, this gap in
the genealogy of the svastika will be equally embarrassing for those
who would like to make the gammadion the common property of the Aryan
race, for it remains to be explained why it is wanting amongst the
ancient Persians. It is right, too, to call attention to its absence
on the most ancient pottery of Greece and the Archipelago, where it
only appears with geometric decoration.

“If the gammadion is found amongst none of the nations composing the
Egypto-Semetic group; if, amongst the Aryans of Persia, it never
played but a secondary and obliterated part, might it not be because
the art and symbolism of these different nations possess other figures
which discharge a similar function, whether as a phylactery, or else
as an astronomical, or a divine symbol? The real talismanic cross of
the countries stretching from Persia to Lybia is the _crux ansata_,
the key of life of the Egyptian monuments. As for their principal
symbol of the sun in motion, is it not the Winged Globe? There would
seem to be between these figures and the gammadion, I will not say
a natural antipathy, but a repetition of the same idea. Where the
gammadion predominates—that is to say, in the whole Aryan world, except
Persia—the Winged Globe and the _crux ansata_ have never succeeded in
establishing themselves in good earnest. Even in India, granting that
these two last figures really crossed the Indus with the Greek, or the
Iranian symbolism, they are only met within an altered form, or with a
new meaning.

“In brief, the ancient world might be divided into two zones,
characterised, one by the presence of the gammadion, the other by
that of the Winged Globe as well as of the _crux ansata_; and these
two provinces barely penetrate one another at a few points of their
frontier, in Cyprus, at Rhodes, in Asia Minor, and in Lybia. The former
belongs to Greek civilisation, the latter to Egypto-Babylonian culture.

“As for India, everything, so far, tends to show that the svastika was
introduced into that country from Greece, the Caucasus, or Asia Minor,
by ways which we do not yet know. However that may be, it is owing
to its adoption by the Buddhists of India that the gammadion still
prevails amongst a great part of the Mongolian races, whilst, with
the exception of a few isolated and insignificant cases which still
survive amongst the actual populations of Hindustan, and, perhaps, of
Iceland, it has completely disappeared from Aryan symbolism and even


                                          ?    ?    ?
  ~Centuries B.C. & A.D.~              ................
                                       .              .
  Anterior to XIIIth                   .            Troas
                                       .              |
                                       .          +---+----+
                                       .          |        |
  About XIII or XII.                   .   <--  Mycenæ --> |
                                   Villanova    Greece     |     |
  From XI to VI.             <--       |       (Pottery) ..... Caucasus
                  +-----+------+----+--+    <--    |             .
                  |     |      |    |  +-----------+             .
                  |     |      |    | Etruria      |             .
                  |     |      |    |  |       Greece (Coins)    .
  To VI.          |     |      |    |  |     +-----+------+      . ?
                  |     |      |    |  | Thrace and|      |      .
  To V.           |     |      |    |  | Macedonia |  Asia Minor .
                  |     |      |    |  +-----+-----+      .      .
  To IV.          |     |      |    | Sicily |            .    ? .
                  |     |      |    +--------+          ..........
  To III.         |     |      |    Gaul  | <--  ?    ..  . ? |  |India
                  +-----+------+----+-----+        ...    .......+-+
  From II. B.C. Scandi- Ger- British  N.  |    ...        .   |    |
  to II. A.D.   navia  mania  Isles Africa|...         Persia |   China
                  |                       |                   |    |
  To III. A.D.    |                  Rome (Catacombs)         |    |
                  +-+                                         |    +-+
  from III to VIII. |                                         +-+    |
                    |                                           |    |
  To IX.         Iceland                                    Thibet Japan

B. _The Psychology of Symbolism._

Signor G. Ferrero[196] has investigated the psychological laws of
symbolism, using that term in its widest aspect. After giving a sketch
of the history of the Fylfot, which is largely borrowed from that
by Count Goblet d’Alviella, he proceeds to give its psychological
interpretation in the following words (p. 148):—

      [196] Guillaume Ferrero, _Les Lois Psychologiques du
      Symbolisme_, 1895. (Translated from the Italian.) I am indebted
      to my friend Havelock Ellis for the reference to and loan of
      this book.

“I believe that this symbol of the motion of the sun became transformed
into a mystic symbol, precisely because it was a metaphorical symbol.
The signification of a pictographic symbol can not be forgotten,
for the sensation of the symbol directly recalls the image or the
idea of the object; there are not in that case intermediate states
of consciousness which can be eliminated. But when it concerns a
metaphorical symbol, these intermediate states of consciousness exist,
for the symbol must be interpreted, especially if a very imperfect
and rude delineation is in question, whose relation to the object
represented is of the slightest. The figure of a tree directly recalls
to me the idea or image of the tree; but a circle drawn with three
or four legs does not directly suggest to me in itself the precise
idea of the motion of the sun; there is at least the possibility of
different interpretations, and at all events there must be an original
and independent act of interpretation. The significance of the symbol,
finally, can only be known if one undertakes an investigation of
induction and interpretation, or if one associates with an inspection
of the symbol the remembrance of an explanation which has been given,
or of an interpretation which we had formerly discovered for ourselves.

“Now this state of consciousness, which serves for the interpretation
of the symbol, would have been necessary if the symbol of the cross
had ministered to the needs of existence, to commerce or politics,
for example; but as it was a religious symbol whose use did not vary
according to the truth and the exactness of its interpretation, it is
evident that this state of consciousness would become useless in the
long run, and the brain would relieve itself of it in a short time.
The _croix gammée_ (fylfot) was, like genuflexions and the other
mimic symbols of ceremonial, a symbol employed in relation with the
divinity; accordingly, the same cause which rendered useless in the
ceremonial the state of consciousness, which we have called γ,[197]
has rendered useless the state of consciousness which could interpret
the solar signification of the cross. It was, in short, a religious
symbol employed in relation to God; rightly or wrongly interpreted as
it may be, prayer and other propitiations tended to the same result;
the state of consciousness which served for its interpretation was then
not necessary, and the brain little by little relieved itself from it.
This state of consciousness being eliminated, it was forgotten that the
sign of the cross represented the sun, because this was a metaphorical
symbol too vague to directly recall the idea of solar movement.

      [197] See note on next page.

“When the state of consciousness which served for the interpretation of
the design was gradually eliminated, all the religious sentiments which
had the sun and its cult for their object were addressed to the cross;
that is why it has become the object of so profound a veneration,
without any one knowing its signification or origin; the cross reaps
for its profit the inheritance of the solar cult of which it has ceased
to be a symbol, in order to become almost a divinity by itself. The
cross thus became a mystic symbol of which the applications became very
numerous, and even very confused.

“All this, I repeat, is only a supposition, but it may enable us to
affirm that, whatever may be the origin of the cross, its evolution,
very probably, can only be explained from the point of view of the
theory of the ideo-emotional arrest.”

A. _Note on Mental Inertia._

Signor G. Ferrero has studied what he terms “mental inertia” and
“the law of least effort,” as applied to the mind, and he finds
that the mental operation may stop short at certain points; thus he
distinguishes (1) _mental arrest_, (2) _emotional arrest, and_ (3)
_ideo-emotional arrest_.

(1.) The first is due to a deficiency in logic; as, for example, when
machinery was first introduced, the workmen smashed the machines,
regarding them as the cause of the fall in wages, and being ignorant
of the fact that the altered conditions were caused by complicated
economic conditions, and not by the machines.

(2.) An analogous phenomenon occurs in the domain of the emotions. An
emotion is not isolated, it is always one link of a chain. The emotions
are always associated with a more or less great number of images or
ideas which define them. But the image or the idea of the thing which
should define the emotion sometimes dwindles or entirely disappears;
it then follows that the emotion, instead of being associated with the
image or with the idea of this thing, is associated with the symbol
which represents this thing; it stops short at the symbol instead of
projecting itself beyond the symbol towards the thing represented.

This is the _emotional arrest_. It is notorious that in religion the
adoration which should be paid to God in heaven is often arrested at
the images which represent the divinity, as when the elders of Israel
said, “Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh
unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand
of our enemies ... and the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God
is come into the camp.”[198]

      [198] 1 Samuel iv. 3, 7.

(3.) There is yet a third psychological process by which the confusion
between the symbol and the thing symbolised is possible; it is the
_ideo-emotional arrest_. In an analysis of the mental state of a man
who performs acts of social ceremonial, this author finds (p. 133) that
“to each completed act there corresponds, in the spirit of man, three
states of consciousness, quite distinct and associated:—

  “1. The desire to cause the man to be favourable to him in whose
      presence the ceremonial act is accomplished (α);
  “2. The idea that the ceremonial act can serve this purpose (β);
  “3. The idea that the act can serve this purpose because the
      suppliant understands that he who has put himself in the
      position where he is unable to do harm cannot have any
      dangerous intention (γ).

“The mental state of those who entreat the gods was, in this primitive
period, composed of the same three states of consciousness, quite
distinct but inter-related:—

  “1. The desire to make the divinity favourable to oneself (α);
  “2. The idea that certain acts or practices (prayers, visits,
      etc., etc.) conduce to this result (β);
  “3. The idea of the reason for which these acts have this
      power—that is to say, the conviction that they are adapted to
      the character attributed to the divinity (γ).

“It is evident that if we compare the mental state of men who are
in harmony with ceremonial observances in this primitive period of
ceremonial with the mental state of civilised men who still observe
ceremonial, social, and religious rules, we find that in the mental
state of civilised men the third state of consciousness—that is to
say γ, has been eliminated. In fact, we have remarked that, among
civilised man, the performance of a ceremonial act is determined by
the desire to render himself favourable to, or at least not to offend
another person or a God (α), and from the idea that these acts can
produce this effect (β); without knowing why (that is to say that γ
has been eliminated).

“We have seen that by the law of mental inertia, a state of
consciousness—image, idea, emotion—cannot last for ever, after the
exciting cause has ceased to act, for a state of consciousness is a
transformation of energy, and it finishes when it has exhausted its
initial quantity of force.

“Only the states of consciousness which, being necessary for the needs
of existence, are preserved by permanent excitation,—be this excitation
simple and direct or complex and indirect—can have an apparently
eternal persistence; the duration of useless states of consciousness is

“This is true for individuals or bodies of men. To each institution,
to each custom, etc., there correspond in the mind of man a certain
number of associated ideas, which have determined alike its birth and
transformation; but, according to this law, only the ideas which are
necessary should be preserved in this association of ideas; the others
should be gradually eliminated.

“This interesting psychological phenomenon of _ideo-emotional arrest_
concludes by profoundly modifying ideas and feelings. It modifies
ideas, for it induces what I have termed a _mental arrest_; the
ideation, in fact, by the loss of the state of consciousness γ, is
arrested at β; and the mind is contented to know that a certain act
will produce a certain effect, or will express a certain sentiment,
without troubling itself with the cause, without seeking for an
explanation. It modifies, and, so to speak, displaces the feelings,
for it produces that what I call an _emotional arrest_: in fact, when
the idea of the true character of the ceremonial act is lost, the act
is no longer a sign of certain inclinations of sentiment, but itself
becomes an object of veneration. We see men who pay attention only to
ceremonial and who neglect the feelings on which it should be based ...
they believe they have fulfilled their religious duties, even if love
and devotion are wanting, if they have not neglected the ceremonies.
It is the same with the social ceremonial; for the majority of men,
social duty does not consist in loyalty, in mutual affection, in a
spirit of justice towards others, but in ceremonial observances; and
when the ceremonial code is not violated they are persuaded that they
have nothing for which to reproach themselves. It is a true _emotional
arrest_, for the sentiments of social and religious duty are, so to
speak, arrested midway in purely external acts.”[199]

      [199] _Loc. cit._, p. 139.


There are two ways in which art may be studied—the æsthetic and the

The former deals with all manifestations of art from a purely
subjective point of view, and classifies objects according to certain
so-called “canons of art.” These may be the generally recognised rules
of the country or race to which the critic belongs, and may even have
the sanction of antiquity, or they may be due to the idiosyncrasy of
the would-be mentor.

In criticising the art of another country it must be remembered that
racial tendencies may give such a bias as to render it very difficult
to treat foreign art sympathetically. Western Europe and Japan are
cases in point. Dogmatism in æsthetics is absurd, for, after all, the
æsthetic sense is largely based upon personal likes and dislikes, and
it is difficult to see what sure ground there can be which would be
common to the majority of people.

The æsthetic study of art may very well be left to professional art

We will now turn to a more promising field of inquiry, and see what can
be gained from a scientific treatment of art. This naturally falls into
two categories, the physical and the biological.

I am not aware that much has been done towards establishing a physical
basis for art. The pleasurable sensations which line, form, and colour
may give rise to are doubtless analogous to those caused by musical
sounds, but with this difference, that the latter are caused by the
orderly sequence of particular vibrations, whereas the vibrations of
the former are synchronous. It is possible that not only must the
character of these vibrations be taken into account, but that the
structure of the human eye and personal equation must be allowed for in
an analysis of the pleasurable sensations caused by any work of art.
These remarks necessarily refer only to the forms of things; their
meaning and the sensations thereby evoked belong to the domain of


At present, however, we are only concerned with the biological
treatment of art. Nor need surprise be felt if an attempt is made
to deal with art as a branch of biology. For is not art necessarily
associated with intelligence? Is not intelligence a function of the
brain? And is not the brain composed of some form of protoplasm? Art is
thus one only of the myriad results of the activity of protoplasm. If
this be true, art must be subject to the same general laws which act on
all living beings.

The fundamental law in biology is that expressed in the well-known
aphorism, _Omne vivum e vivo_ (“All life from life”). The belief
in abiogenesis or spontaneous generation, as now taking place, has
completely disappeared from biological teaching.

In studying savage art we are irresistibly forced to an analogous
conclusion. By carefully studying a number of designs we find,
providing the series is sufficiently extensive, that a complex, or
even an apparently simple pattern, is the result of a long series of
variations from a quite dissimilar original. The latter may in very
many cases be proved to be a direct copy or representation of a natural
or artificial object. From this it is clear that a large number of
patterns can be shown to be natural developments from a realistic
representation of an actual object, and not to be a mental creation on
the part of the artist.

There are certain styles of ornamentation which, at all events in
particular cases, may very well be original, taking that word in its
ordinary sense, such, for example, as zigzag lines, cross-hatching, and
so forth. The mere toying with any implement which could make a mark on
any surface might suggest the simplest ornamentation to the most savage
mind. This may or may not have been the case, and it is entirely beyond
proof either way, and therefore we must not press our analogy too far.
It is, however, surprising, and it is certainly very significant, that
the origin of so many designs can now be determined, although they are
of unknown age.

It is therefore not too much to say that savages do not deliberately
invent patterns or designs; in other words, artistic expression is the
result of a pre-existing visual impression.

Great difficulty presents itself when we apply this statement to
communities of a higher culture; but there is no reason for believing
that the case is different for barbaric races from what it is among the
more savage.

It is when we come to highly civilised people that the problem becomes
well-nigh insoluble. People often designedly “invent” patterns, and
imagine that such designs are truly original. It is impossible to prove
whether or no the artist has ever seen either a similar pattern, or at
all events the elements of which his design is composed. It is very
difficult to conceive that the latter is not the case. All that we can
do is to fall back on the simple conditions, and we have already seen
what obtains there.

This argument is strengthened by the fact that those who wish to
“invent” new designs so often have recourse to objective assistance.
The students in our schools of art are instructed to study natural
forms, especially plants. Not only have they to manipulate the plant
as a whole, but the flower has to be dissected, and even such details
as the cross-section of the seed capsule are taken into account.
Intelligent selection and rejection and judicious grouping may give
rise to an infinitude of designs and patterns.

More mechanical aids are often pressed into service, and the compasses
and other drawing instruments are employed, perhaps as often on the
chance of a pleasing combination resulting or being suggested, as to
elaborate some definite idea. The well-known Japanese pattern books
afford a good foreign example of this method.

Instructors have not overlooked such optical aids as the kaleidoscope
or analogous apparatus for pattern-making.

Once a design is started, be it the simplest of geometrical forms or
a representation of a definite object, its subsequent fate is subject
to vicissitudes very similar to those which beset the existence of any

Organisms have offspring which at the same time resemble and differ
from their parents.

This is the commonest experience one meets with in studies in ornament;
certain simple patterns, on account of their simplicity, may be
indefinitely repeated, and that without appreciable variation. Like
simple chemical compounds, they are stable because there are few
combining elements, and these are well linked together.

On the other hand, the more complex the original idea the greater
opportunity there is for variation, in fact variation is inevitable.
Just as in the highly unstable molecules which build up protoplasm,
there is practically no alternative except for metabolism to take place.

In no case have we a series of designs which are known to be, so to
speak, genetically related. We cannot say that this was a copy of
that, and that of some other known form, and so on. Neither have we
in Palæontology. A student of the latter science brings together as
many specimens as he can from different geological horizons, and
finding that the forms of a more recent deposit resemble with but
slight differences those from an earlier formation, he not unreasonably
concludes that the former were descended from the latter, and that the
differences in the species are to be accounted for by the fixing and
isolating of variations such as are commonly to be met with in members
of one family.

The biologist, recognising the great importance of the theory of
evolution, now rears generation after generation of animals to see
how far actual experience will bear out theoretical deductions, and
by this means definite facts are being accumulated. The credit of
first applying this principle to art is due to General Pitt-Rivers.
He gave a certain drawing to some one (A) to copy; his rendering was
sent on to another person (B) to copy, this copy was handed on to a
third individual (C), and so on, each copyist having only the preceding
person’s performance before him. In each case fresh variations occur
according to the greater or less imitative skill of the artist. The
General has collected some very curious examples of series of this kind.

Mr. H. Balfour,[200] following this suggestion, describes how he
started a similar experiment. He says, “An original drawing of my own,
representing a snail crawling over a twig, was given out to different
people to be copied as I have described. In a series of twelve to
fifteen copies thus obtained, the snail’s shell gradually leaves the
snail and becomes a kind of boss upon the twig, and finally the design
is turned upside down; the artists at this stage being convinced that
the sketch is intended to represent a bird, the ‘horns’ of the snail
having become the forked tail of the bird. It is seen that the extremes
of the series are absolutely unlike each other, but in no case are any
two adjacent sketches very dissimilar.”

      [200] H. Balfour, “The Origin of Decorative Art as illustrated
      by the Art of Modern Savages,” _Midland Naturalist_, xiii.,
      1890; _The Evolution of Decorative Art_, 1893, p. 24;
      “Evolution in Decorative Art,” _Journ. Soc. Arts_, xlii., 1894,
      p. 458.

Unfortunately, in the examples given in the earlier pages of this book,
as in those presented by other writers, we are not in a position to
definitely affirm that one particular design is genetically related
to another one. We have the same difficulty in palæontology; but the
impossibility of absolute proof does not weaken the strong presumptive
evidence in its favour.

We are also brought face to face with another interesting zoological
parallel, and that is the co-existence of primitive, intermediate,
and late types. It is not always easy to suggest explanations in
zoology why some forms should persist and others disappear, but these
difficulties are no argument against evolution having occurred. Amongst
savage peoples we often find a surprising number of intermediate
stages, but one explanation is ready to hand. The original is usually
always before them, and all stages in the evolution of a design are
decorative; they are all “fit” enough to survive, and the majority
of them may persist for an indefinite time. In the animal world
small changes in the environment may produce far-reaching effects on
organisms, and the persistence, not the change of type, is the greatest

In zoology it appears that the more complex animals, or perhaps rather
the more complex members of a group, vary more than the simpler. It
would be interesting to work out whether the same occurs in patterns.
I am inclined to think that this will be found to be very generally
the case. Increased variation occurs because there is more material to
vary. The next step is to determine what directions the variations take.

Development may take place (1) with a general tendency towards
complexity, or (2) towards simplification, or (3) these two may be
coincident. That is, there may be (1) an upward or specialising
evolution, or (2) degeneration, or (3) selection, which implies partial
elimination and a specialisation of the selected details.

(1) Not many examples present themselves of the evolution of a
particular motive as a whole; as usually one portion of it diminishes
and another increases. What may be termed symmetrical evolution must
necessarily be of rare occurrence. An example will be found in the
progressive development of a fish-hook into an ornament in Torres
Straits (p. 76, Fig. 44).

Occasionally one meets with examples of a considerable amount of
partial complexity without a degradation of the remainder.

(2) The simplification of original types is of extremely common
occurrence in decorative art. This has often impressed itself on those
who have interested themselves in handicrafts of savages. In addition
to the numerous examples I have brought together in this book I need
only refer to the pioneer observations of Sir John Evans in 1849 in his
well-known study[201] of the degeneration which occurred in the Gaulish
and British copying of the gold stater of Philip II. of Macedon.
Later,[202] he says, “those varieties appear to have become more or
less persistent, which, in the ‘struggle for existence,’ have presented
advantages over the present form in their relation to external
conditions. But in the succession of types of these British coins,
the requirements which new types had to fulfil in order to become to
a certain extent persistent, were, firstly, to present facility of
imitation, and secondly, symmetry of form. The natural instincts of
uncivilised man seem to lead to the adoption of simple yet symmetrical
forms of ornament, while in all stages of culture the saving of trouble
is an object of universal desire.[203] The reduction of a complicated
and artistic design into a symmetrical figure of easy execution was the
object of each successive engraver of the dies of these coins, though
probably they were themselves unaware of any undue saving of trouble
on their part, or the results which ensued from it.”

      [201] “On the Date of British Coins,” _Numismatic Chronicle_,
      xiii., 1850, p. 127.

      [202] _Ancient British Coins_, 1864, p. 27.

      [203] I venture, however, to question whether this is in
      reality very operative among savages.

While degeneration is of so frequent occurrence in the history of
decorative art, one must not assume that this must invariably be the
case; every series must be judged independently. One commonly finds
that the earlier representations of glyptic art were crude and highly
conventional, but they became more life-like as the artists gained
more command over their material, and perhaps at the same time the
fabricators or the purchasers were gradually educated to prefer greater
truth to nature.

(3) The third alternative is by far the most frequent. Typical examples
are to be met with in the rich field of the decorative art of the
Papuan Gulf. Fig. 13, p. 36, will serve as an example: here each
star-like figure is the remains of two human faces; the eye-spot is
the amalgamation of the two pairs of eyes, the lateral angled lines
represent the cheek-folds, and the curved lines next to these are the
lower eye-lashes of each face, and nothing more of the faces persists.

It would be absurd to endeavour to make the evolution of decorative art
run on all fours with that of animals, as there are certain art forms
which have no parallel in zoology. In patterns, for example, the two
essential elements are symmetry and repetition; the latter implicates
not only the whole design but portions of it as well. Thus, if in an
early stage of a realistic design there is a blank area, the vacancy
will usually be filled up by repetitions of that detail of the whole
design which is nearest to it. For example, the scroll pattern of the
Massim district of British New Guinea originates, as we have seen, from
serial repetitions of a bird’s head. In the simplest forms of this
pattern there are blank triangular areas, but these are usually filled
up by a series of crescentic lines (Fig. 26), which are repetitions of
the curve bounding the base of each triangle. In the Elema district the
designs have an increasing tendency towards angularity, so, similarly,
areas unoccupied by the main design are very frequently filled up with
chevrons, as in Fig. 16.

The objection to this method of treating art may be urged that the
decorated objects, whatever their nature may be, are inanimate, that
they are merely pieces of wood or stone, and that they are therefore
not to be compared with living beings. It is perfectly obvious that
ethnological objects cannot change themselves or develop themselves
into anything else. On the other hand, though animals are alive they
also have no voluntary power to alter themselves, nor can they develop
themselves in any direction. They are almost as passive as fabricated

The small amount of change which may occur in the adult existence of
an animal (I purposely exclude all changes which take place during
development and growth) are due to forces acting upon the animal, and
to which the animal more or less responds; they are not self-induced.
The zoological and ethnological specimens, in this respect, are in
precisely the same case.

The direction which evolution takes, whether it makes for a more highly
sensitive being or for degeneration, has reference to offspring alone
and not to their parents, immediate or remote. There is no conscious
and protracted effort on the part of a particular group of animals
to evolve in a determinate direction, this latter is circumscribed
by the environment. Thus it comes about that consciousness has no
part in evolution whether of an animal or of a pattern. The offspring
of an animal vary more or less from the parent just as copies of
designs vary, and both are alike subject to an external selection. If
this selection proceeds sufficiently long in one general direction,
a distinct and non-relapsing variation is established, and so on

One distinction between the evolution of animals and that of patterns
must not be lost sight of: in the former the survival of the fittest
appears to be mainly due to an elimination of the un-fittest, whereas
in the latter there is a certain amount of conscious selection.

A further argument against this view may be urged from the standpoint
that however unconscious the evolution of the lower animals may be, the
case is very different with man. He is conscious and self-conscious,
and he can direct his own evolution. In the first place, “Can he do
so?” and in the second, “Has he done so?” First let us see what has

I suppose it is one of the best established teachings of history
that the evolution of a nation has not been consciously directed by
the individuals which compose it. A few men may have sought to guide
the course of politics or to adjust its foreign policy; but their
efforts are futile unless supported by the people themselves, and the
luxuriousness of living of the majority, the laxity of their morals, or
some other irresponsible factor, may entirely wreck individual effort.
Nations as a whole have blindly worked out their own salvation or ruin
in just the same way as a group of animals living in geological times
may have survived to the present day or may have become extinct.

The essential conservatism of the human mind is a fact of prime
importance. Savages, children, and the less intelligent of the
civilised races are similar in this respect. This has long been
recognised, and that “there is no new thing under the sun” is an
oft-repeated, widely-recognised truism. In proportion as change is
rare, so progress is slow. It is only the happy coincidence of certain
combinations which acts as a stimulant to variation, but this appears
to have an increasing tendency to occur. The more savage the race the
more conservative it is as a rule.

Just as the tendency to variability is of necessity a steadily
increasing factor in the evolution of animals, so it is in man, and
proportionately more so as he is raised above the level of the brute.
Increase of complexity leads to that instability which is the mother of

The above-mentioned statements are merely expressions of facts known
to all. It will probably be admitted that among less civilised peoples
their evolution may have been undirected by themselves; but with
increased complexity comes augmented mental power, and it may be urged
that this may, so to speak, take the helm; but I would venture to ask,
Is there much evidence in support of this view? The mind of man is
subject, like his body, to the ordinary operations of the universe, his
individuality is apparent rather than real, and just as one may move to
and fro on the face of the earth yet at the same time the traveller and
the bed-ridden person are revolving round the axis of the earth at the
same rate, and are equally trundling with the globe through space, so,
too, mind cannot escape from the forces which act on the body.

It is believed by some that there were periods in the history of
organisms when evolution took place more rapidly than at other times;
perhaps this was due to variability occurring more extensively, which
again may have been partly due to changes in the environment. There is
no reason to believe that variation (which is the material that makes
evolution possible) occurs uniformly. There is no need to touch further
upon these yet unsolved problems of Biology; at all events we find
that in decorative art evolution has been spasmodic or discontinuous,
that there are periods of quiescence and of activity. I have already
suggested that the isolation of a people and uniformity in their
existence will tend to stagnation in art, and that intercourse with
other peoples, whether by trade, war or migration, serves as a stimulus
to artistic expression.

To return to our more immediate subject, consciousness of purpose has
extremely little to do with human evolution, nor has it much more to
say to the evolution of patterns among primitive peoples.

The selection of one design instead of another, or of a particular
part of a design, is a conscious act, but probably in the great
majority of cases an unreasoning one. And the selection is limited
to that individual object. It is inconceivable that a savage should
copy or adapt a certain design because it promises to develop into a
more pleasing pattern. While there is a certain amount of conscious
selection, the variation as a whole of any design is an entirely
unguided operation so far as the intelligence of the human units is


No part of the study of Biology is more fascinating than that which
deals with the geographical distribution of organisms, especially when
treated by such a master as Alfred Russel Wallace. The geographical
distribution of art is as yet uninvestigated, but with careful and
capable handling we may expect it to yield results not less interesting
than those of the distribution of animals. It is needless to point out
that the subject is peculiarly difficult, but as John Ray said two
hundred years ago concerning the study of Natural History, “much might
be done did we but endeavour, and nothing is insuperable to pains and

It will not be superfluous to here indicate the general lines upon
which such an inquiry may be profitably made, taking the experience of
zoologists as our guide in this matter.

It is a matter of general experience that animals are not uniformly
scattered over the globe. The absence of all land mammals and of snakes
from New Zealand; the occurrence of the monotremes only in Australia
and New Guinea; that the American opossums are the only marsupials
found out of Australia and a few adjacent islands; the absence of bears
in Africa and of lemurs in America, are a few of the myriad cases in

By tabulating the denizens of different countries, the latter can
be grouped according to their animals, and in this way zoologists
have formed zoological regions, which may be further subdivided into
sub-regions or provinces. All such divisions are characterised (1) by
their characteristic animals, (2) by their peculiar animals, and (3)
by the absence of certain groups of animals. The negative character in
this case being perhaps the most valuable one.

Organisms may in a rough manner be distributed into zones corresponding
with climate, which may be horizontal and largely dependent upon
latitude, or vertical and directly dependent upon altitude, which
varies, however, according to latitude. Such a kind of distribution is
much more manifest in plants than in animals.

Further, there is a phenomenon known as “discontinuous distribution,”
which is one of great importance. For example, the tapirs are only
found in Central America and in the Malay Archipelago, the camel group
in South America and the deserts of Asia, the ostrich group in South
America, Africa, Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand. It is needless
to multiply examples. The explanation is simple enough. The tapirs
are representatives of old generalised ungulates of early tertiary
times that formerly lived in the northern hemisphere, but which have
since become exterminated in the region of their origin and abundance,
and have survived at only two extreme points of their old habitat.
Ancestral camels are common in the tertiary beds of North America; the
one group wandered southwards, and finding competition less keen on
the plateaux of South America, were enabled to develop into llamas,
alpacas, and so forth. The other group was modified so as to exist in
the deserts of Asia, the less specialised forms in the intermediate
countries having died out. The same general argument applies to the
ostrich group, and in the rhea of South America, the ostrich of Africa,
the cassowary of New Guinea, the emu of Australia, the diminutive
apteryx and the gigantic extinct moas of New Zealand we have outliers,
so to speak, of an extremely ancient group of birds, the other members
of which have become exterminated in the intermediate districts.

Then again, there may be what are termed “local types and species,”
forms which differ but slightly from the characteristic or “central”
type of the species, and which are restricted to special regions. For
example, in an island off a mainland there are often what are termed
“insular varieties,” and in an archipelago it is of frequent occurrence
that each island is characterised by possessing its peculiar varieties
and even peculiar species. Isolated geographical features, such as
commanding and separated mountains, may have what may equally be termed
“insular faunas,” or again, the various valleys of a mountain chain may
have appreciable faunistic differences.

The reason for this is not far to seek. These varieties differ
from others merely by being intensified by local conditions and by
isolation. Variation is more widespread than is generally supposed,
but granting freedom of intercourse over a wide area and a stability
of environment, the extreme variations are less liable to occur, and,
furthermore, it is the average organism which is the most stable. Thus
a fairly constant mean level is maintained. The isolation of portion
of such a uniform population introduces new factors, and the isolated
individuals tend to arrive at a condition of stable equilibrium which
must of necessity be different from that of the parent stem.

Colonies are probably of rare occurrence in the zoological world. By
such I mean the sudden peopling of a district by an animal new to that
part of the country. An example of how this may occur is illustrated
by the sporadic excursion into Europe of Pallas’ sand-grouse. It will
be remembered that a few years ago large numbers of this Siberian bird
made their appearance in Europe. Similar inroads are on record for past

Supposing the conditions were favourable, the sand-grouse might very
well have established itself in one or more localities, and then
formed colonies in the true sense of the term. Artificial colonies are
being continually formed by man: witness the rabbits in Australia and
the pheasant in England.

The dispersion of animals is caused by the favouring conditions of
physical features, or by the carrying power of winds and currents.
The isolation of animals is also similarly caused; winds and currents
may be in such a direction as to prevent migration, and the physical
features may be otherwise unfavourable to dispersion.

We now have to apply these general remarks to the province of art, and
to see how far similar conclusions may be drawn.

The conclusions of the synthetical zoologist who studies the problems
of zoogeography, as it is sometimes called, are entirely dependent upon
the tedious labours of the analytical or systematic zoologist. General
conclusions are worth nothing if the data upon which they are erected
are untrustworthy; hence an accurate identification of the fauna of a
country is an absolutely necessary precursor to any theorising upon its

This self-evident proposition equally applies to the geographical
distribution of art-forms. It is first of all necessary to determine
the exact nature of any given pattern or design. I have often called
attention to the danger which there is in assuming that similarity
is identity, the most instructive example of this being exhibited
in the fret-pattern group and the allied scroll-patterns. Instances
could be multiplied were it necessary. One of the main objects of the
present volume is to emphasise this fact, and to demonstrate that the
signification of a design, that is, what it really is, can only be
ascertained by an exhaustive study of that particular region where
it occurs or from whence it has been derived. Analysis must precede
synthesis. This has not yet been attempted on a large enough scale, and
so it is at present impossible to deduce wide generalisations.

Art is subject to two prime factors—(1) the solidarity of the human
race, and (2) ethnic idiosyncrasy. It is the extreme difficulty
in distinguishing between these two factors which complicates the
comparative study of customs and beliefs.

To the second of these we owe, for example, the evolution of the
various forms of fret and scroll pattern, and to the first of them
their world-wide retention as patterns.

It is difficult to avoid the expectation that whatever artistic
provinces may be defined in the future, they will ultimately prove to
be related to racial divisions.

Possibly certain stages of artistic evolution may be determined through
which the artistic development of all the more cultivated people have
passed. These stages, should they be established, are illustrations
of the solidarity of mankind, but the precise level to which the art
of particular country or district has attained, or the direction it
has taken (irrespective of the stage of development), these are ethnic

Before the geographical distribution of art can be mapped out it will
be necessary to accurately define the various artistic expressions, and
to discriminate between designs, which though apparently similar are
fundamentally distinct. Not till then will it be possible to determine
whether particular designs are world-wide in distribution on account of
the essential identity of human thought, or whether they are not really
different patterns which admit of being grouped into definite regions
having a more or less ethnic value.

It is not sufficient to attempt a rapid solution of this problem by
assuming that artistic and ethnic boundaries are coterminous. My study
of Papuan art indicates that the artistic expression of a people is
more delicate than the characters usually utilised by ethnologists,
and that, whereas the physical anthropologist can at present barely
distinguish between the natives of contiguous districts, their art at
once suggests distinctions, and then a fresh appeal has to be made to
the physical anthropologist for a more searching investigation.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that in some countries art is more
uniform, certainly so in countries which have long been civilised.

In Australia the art appears to be very uniform, this may be chiefly
due to the fact that the Australians, though subdivided into numerous
tribes, are nevertheless a very homogeneous people.[204] It is true
that some anthropologists have sought to distinguish primitive
divisions among these people; but these endeavours have not yet been
thoroughly established, and no investigations have as yet been made
as to whether the arts and crafts of the Australians support these
conclusions. Another factor in the uniformity of Australian art arises
from the fact that all the Australians are virtually on the same level
of evolution. The uniformity of condition of life and environment
induces uniformity in art.

      [204] I by no means wish to imply that a homogeneous people
      implies a pure race; a people composed of several elements, if
      well mixed up and isolated for a long time, may become fairly

This latter fact may account for the general resemblance in artistic
treatment which yet more distinct peoples may exhibit who live under
very similar conditions; their ethnic idiosyncrasy may be levelled by
the monotony of their environment.

Lastly, uniformity may be arrived at, as in most civilised countries
of to-day, by continual and rapid intercourse between peoples. It is
just this condition, together with a certain amount of stability in the
environment, which makes for the uniformity and fixation of species in
the animal world.

I am inclined to believe in an ethnical feeling for art, but much more
work will have to be done to establish this as a fact. In our detailed
study of the decorative art of British New Guinea we find a sudden and
very characteristic change in Papuan art when we come to the Massim
district. The characteristic Papuan ornamentation by means of straight
lines and angles suddenly gives way to a variety of scrolls and loops,
straight lines, except as bounding a pattern, rarely occur, and angles
are more rare than bowed lines are in other parts of New Guinea. The
_facies_ of the style of decoration is exactly reversed. This surely
has a deeper significance than tribal distinction, and it was noticing
this fact which first led me to study New Guinea art. The explanation
which suggested itself to me was one which subsequent investigation
has confirmed—namely, that it is one expression of the influence of a
foreign race on the Papuans of the region in question. Professor E.
T. Hamy has marshalled numerous facts in support of this view in an
able paper (“Étude sur les Papouas de la Mer d’Entrecasteaux,” _Revue
d’Ethnographie_, vii., 1888, pp. 503-519), to which I have already

So far then as present evidence goes, we may assert that the
ornamentation of the indigenes of New Guinea is essentially composed
of straight lines and angles. The characteristic fretwork and carving
of Netherlands New Guinea—notably that of Geelvink Bay—is clearly due
to foreign influence. The same also applies, as we have just seen, to
the opposite corner of New Guinea. Future research must determine the
amount and geographical extension of analogous influences in these
portions of New Guinea, and also extend this line of inquiry to other
parts of the world.

In seeking to establish artistic provinces we must note (1) the
characteristic forms and designs, (2) those that are peculiar to the
district, and (3) the deficiencies.

To take examples:—(1) the white lotus (_Nymphæa lotus_) is as
decidedly characteristic of the decorative art of Ancient Egypt as
the frigate-bird is of that of the Solomon Islands or of the Massim
district of British New Guinea; but these are not peculiar to these
districts, as both the lotus and the frigate-bird motives extend beyond
the regions named.

(2) The employment of highly conventionalised and degenerate human
figures to cover comparatively large areas is, so far as I am
aware, peculiar to the Hervey Group,[205] as also is the device of
nature-printed ferns on tapa in certain Polynesian islands.

      [205] Dr. W. Hein has just published a well illustrated paper
      on anthropomorphic designs among the Dyaks (Borneo), _Ann. k.k.
      nat. Hofmuseums_, Vienna, x., 1895, p. 94.

(3) The absence of the frigate-bird as a decorative motive throughout
the greater part of British New Guinea is as important a fact as its
presence in a comparatively small district. The absence of scroll
designs, and practically of sigmoid lines, in Torres Straits and Daudai
and throughout the greater part of the Central District of British New
Guinea, is as significant as their occurrence in the Massim district;
or their general absence in Eastern Polynesia with their prevalence in
New Zealand.

What is known as a zonal distribution in organisms only occurs in
anthropology when a district is inhabited by different peoples that
live concentrically to one another. Such, for example, as the Negritto
populations which inhabit the centre of the Mollaccan Peninsula or
the centre of some of the islands of the Malay Archipelago and are
surrounded by Malay peoples; here we have a core, so to speak, of one
type of decorative art surrounded by a different type.

Discontinuous distribution occurs in art as well as zoology, and
the solution of each problem must be attempted from the scientific

A good example of such a problem is to be found in the distribution
of the fret and scroll patterns to which I have frequently alluded.
Further study is necessary before we can say definitely whether a given
fret or meander pattern has been independently evolved, or whether it
has spread from elsewhere. In our study the problem is more complicated
than in zoology, for a multiple origin of a given design or pattern
is always possible and often probable, whereas this is not known to
occur for a single species of animal. Discontinuity in distribution
in ethnography may mean either that the form has a multiple origin or
that it has migrated without establishing itself in the intermediate
districts, or that it has disappeared from those districts.

It is evident that every pattern or set of patterns in the first
instance has to be separately studied in a limited area, in order to
determine whether it is of indigenous or foreign origin. No casual
application of general principles will suffice, for it is possible
that in certain cases a design may be apparently fairly uniformly
distributed over a certain area, and on the face of it one might be
tempted to regard this as a case of uniform distribution, whereas on a
more minute examination it may be found that the designs are analogues
and not homologues, that they have spread from different centres
of origin, and thus the apparent uniformity of distribution may be
essentially invalid. I suspect this is largely the case in the meander
and scroll patterns.

We often find that a particular type of decoration occurs over a
certain area, but within the limits of that district there are several
distinct varieties. Students at home usually have a great difficulty in
studying this problem owing to the very imperfect and unsatisfactory
way in which objects are labelled by collectors. In my memoir on _The
Decorative Art of British New Guinea_ I have attempted to work out
the local varieties both of form and decoration of the lime spatulas
of the Massim district. According to the material at my disposal, it
does seem that certain types are characteristic of, if not peculiar
to, particular groups of islands. The more or less complete isolation
of tribes or peoples, owing to geographical conditions or inter-tribal
wars, is sufficient to account for local types and insular varieties,
even when the people all belong to the one stock. If that stock is
a mixed one, variations are much more likely to occur than if it is
a pure race or a people that have become homogeneous by prolonged

Local types may, however, be due to the presence of a colony from
another district. There are numerous examples of this in Melanesia,
where colonies of Polynesians have arrived from more eastern island
groups in Oceania, and as I have pointed out, there are Melanesian
colonies in British New Guinea. To use a geological term, these are
ethnological outliers.

As decorated objects must be conveyed by man, the means for their
dispersal and the barriers which militate against it are the same as
those which operate on human migrations; but there is one difference.
Where men go we may assume that they carry their artistic efforts and
proclivities with them, but decorated objects may be carried further
than the actual distance covered by the manufacturer, or even than the
recognised middleman or trader.

This brings us to a very important aspect of the subject, and that
is the question of trade-routes. Trade-routes are culture-routes,
and in order to appreciate the history of culture it is necessary to
know the directions in which it flowed. Until we have a more complete
knowledge of the ancient trade-routes of Europe we cannot recover the
history of pre-historic Europe. The information for this is being
rapidly accumulated, and for a summary of our information I would refer
the reader to Mr. George Coffey’s “Origins of Pre-Historic Ornament
in Ireland.”[206] I would support my position with the following
quotations from Count Goblet d’Alviella:—

      [206] _Journ. Roy. Soc. Antiq. of Ireland_, v. (5th ser.),
      1895, p. 32; cf. also the quotation from Mr. Arthur Evans,
      p. 142, _ante_.

“Whatever the similarity of form, and even of meaning, may be between
two symbolic figures of different origin, it is proper, ere we
assert their relationship, to show the probability, or at least the
possibility, of international relations which would have served as a
vehicle for transport. This point once set at rest, it remains to be
seen who was the giver and who the receiver.[207]

      [207] _Loc. cit._, p. 260.

“Whether we start from Japan, from Greece, from India, or even
from Lybia, from Etruria, or from Gaul, we always arrive, after
many halting-places, at two great centres of artistic diffusion,
partially irreducible as regards one another, Egypt and Chaldæa—with
this difference, that, towards the eighth century before our era,
Mesopotamia took lessons from Egypt, whilst Egypt learnt little of any
country.[208] Not only did symbols follow the same paths as purely
ornamental schemes, but they were also transmitted in the same manner,
at the same periods, and in nearly the same proportion. Concerning
symbols as well as artistic products, we everywhere find, by the side
of aboriginal types, the deposit of a powerful current which has its
more or less distant origin in the symbolism of the banks of the
Euphrates, or the Nile. In a word, the two classes of importations are
joined together to such a degree that in writing the history of art we
write to a great extent the history of symbols, or, at least, of their

      [208] Cf. pp. 143, 144, 149 _ante_.

      [209] _Loc. cit._, p. 263.

These quotations from Count Goblet d’Alviella enunciate the right
method of studying symbols. He points out, as I have again and again
insisted for patterns, that mere resemblance must not be mistaken for
identity; before two similar symbols in different countries can be
regarded as being the same symbol, it must be proved that there has
been direct or indirect intercourse between those countries. Hence the
primary importance of the study of trade routes, for these are also
culture routes, and patterns and symbols are the flotsam and jetsam of
the influences that flow along them.

We may then recognise several main influences which may make for
the distribution of designs—(1) the swarmings of peoples; (2) the
establishment of organised or adventitious colonies; (3) the inroads
of armies; (4) a general drift which is so slight as to be scarcely
appreciable; and (5) trade, which usually proceeds along definite
routes, and it is these that armies also generally follow.

A word of caution is necessary in dealing with trade-routes. Whereas
the decorated objects pass along them and are distributed far and wide,
it does not always necessarily follow that the ornamentation itself
is naturalised. It is probable that in many cases a certain style of
decoration is associated with a particular kind of object, and it might
not occur to people to transfer that decorative style to other objects,
or at all events the process would doubtless be slow.

One very good reason is that the indigenous objects are already
decorated, a type of ornamentation is associated with a type of object
and the feeling of expectancy demands for its satisfaction that this
shall continue to be the case.

Again, we know that the majority of peoples do not appreciate new
designs or patterns. They know nothing about them, they have no
associations with them, they take no interest in them. In other words,
it may take a long time for an exotic to become naturalised.

An example of this occurs in British New Guinea. The great annual
trading voyages between the Motu and the Gulf tribes have not, so far
as I am aware, had the least influence on the art of the two peoples;
neither in technique nor designs have I seen any object which indicated
that a borrowing had taken place. I consider this a strong argument in
favour of the value of art in ethnological inquiries.


I have endeavoured in the foregoing pages to formulate and illustrate
some of the principles underlying the evolution of decorative art.
The subject is so vast that it would be impossible to deal with it
adequately unless a series of memoirs could be devoted to it. Here,
however, I have been more concerned with the method of study; I have
not attempted to seriously investigate even a single department, and
various branches of the subject have either been merely hinted at or
entirely passed over.

In all studies a right method is of fundamental importance, and in
an attempt to understand the meaning of decorative art, as in other
matters, a slight deviation from the right method of procedure may
lead one far from the truth. Nothing is easier than to be led astray
by superficial resemblances, and it is impossible to be too much on
one’s guard in this matter. Of this I have given some examples, but
I have refrained from giving as many as I might have done, as it
is not pleasant to show up the mistakes of pioneers, even if it be
only for the purpose of warning others. As Professor Max Müller has
said,[210] “Identity of form does as little prove identity of origin in
archæology as identity of sound proves identity of origin in etymology.
Comparative studies are very useful, so long as they do not neglect the
old rule, _Divide et impera_—Distinguish, and you will be master of
your subject!”

      [210] From an essay in Schliemann’s _Ilios_, p. 348.

There are practically but two methods of work—(1) Inquiry from the
people who employ the designs, or the testimony of written evidence
when the people no longer know the significance of the designs; or (2)
an investigation of induction and interpretation where oral or written
tradition fail.

Beyond all question the most valuable results are obtained from oral
information. I need only refer the reader to the investigations of
Professors Ehrenreich and Karl von den Steinen (p. 174), and of Mr. H.
Vaughan Stevens (p. 236), to demonstrate that by no other method could
we ever gain any idea as to what was the meaning of these particular
patterns and designs. In fact, the observations of these travellers
make one very sceptical of any interpretations by outsiders.

This is undoubtedly the most important and pressing work in this
subject. Only those who have visited backward peoples of certain
grades of culture who have come into contact with the white man, can
realise how rapidly the old lore is passing away. This may or may not
be advantageous, but no one will deny that it is a thousand pities
that scarcely any one thinks it his duty to inquire about and to put
on record all that can be gathered about those peoples which our
civilisation is either modifying or destroying. Every one who can will
collect “curios,” especially those which are decorated; but out of the
hundreds of collectors, how many units have ever thought of asking the
natives what was the significance of the ornamentation? I have already
drawn attention to this need for Australia, but it is equally pressing
in many other parts of the world. Even museum curators have in the past
regarded ethnographical specimens more as “trophies” than as materials
for the study of a history of mankind.

There are still some “collectors” (that is, purchasers of “curios”) who
think that when they know where an object comes from, and, may be, what
is its native name, they know pretty well all that is worth knowing
about it. Others have realised that there is a history in every form
and pattern.

What is wanted is an interpretation of the form, of the meaning of
odd little details of contour, of indentation, or of projection. No
apparently insignificant superfluity is meaningless, they are silently
eloquent witnesses of a past signification like the mute letters in so
many of our words. Almost every line or dot of every ornament has a
meaning, but we are without understanding, and have eyes and see not.

But again, we must not stop short when we have determined what a form
means, or what is the original of a device. We have to discover why it
was so. The reasons for a motive, the meaning of its present form, have
also to be sought. So we come to higher and finer analysis, and at last
find ourselves studying psychology.

With so much to learn, it is evident that we must be sure of our
premises, and hence the necessity for going to the original sources.
But there is always considerable difficulty in getting at the truth,
and a statement made by a native must never be accepted as evidence
until it has been independently confirmed from other sources. Nothing
is easier than to get unreliable information. This is not the place
to enter into the various possible sources of error, but I would like
to warn those who have the opportunity of getting information first
hand, that it is impossible to take too much care, and all suggestive
interrogation or leading questions should be totally avoided.

When we are dealing with written evidence the method is one of
historical procedure. The means of information of the writer, his
credibility, and other factors have to be taken into account; often,
too, there is a sparsity, or even an absence of corroborative evidence,
which tends to make the testimony uncertain.

Failing these direct methods of obtaining information, there remains
the deductive and comparative method. The best example of this
mentioned in the preceding pages is Count Goblet d’Alviella’s
investigation of the fylfot; indeed his book is a model for method. In
another field Dr. Stolpe’s study of the decorative art of the Hervey
Islands is a memorable and instructive piece of work.

With the examples of method which are here brought together the student
should be in a position to prosecute researches in the innumerable
fields which lay open to him.

I would, however, like to take this opportunity to say a word or two
to those who wish to commence a study of decorative art from the
biological standpoint.

No amount of trouble must be grudged in collecting the data, whether it
be in the form of photographs, sketches, tracings, or rubbings; right
conclusions largely depend upon a wealth of suitable material.

Rubbings of carved ornament can be made with great facility on tough,
thin Japanese paper by means of heel-ball (Ullathorne’s is the best,
and it can be obtained from almost any working shoemaker; the paper is
more difficult to obtain). The paper is firmly held on to the object,
and then rubbed hard with the heel-ball; it is best to always rub the
latter in one direction. Whenever possible it is desirable to make a
rubbing of the whole of an object, but if only a portion is decorated
the outline of the remaining portions need alone be rubbed. Next to
photographs, rubbings are the most satisfactory method of obtaining
copies of carved objects, as every detail and vagary is accurately
reproduced, and they lend themselves very readily to reproduction in
the form of “process-blocks,” but it will be found that details will
often have to be supplemented by sketches. There are, of course, many
carved objects of which it is impossible to make rubbings. A very
little experience will soon teach the beginner as to the best methods
of procedure in any special case.

Professor A. Grünwedel[211] calls attention to the necessity there
is for absolute accuracy when copying the ornamentation of savages.
“Still more dangerous [than mistaken interpretation] is the attempted
‘correct’ reproduction of aboriginal ornament according to the
European, so-called, feeling for beauty, whereby somewhat crooked
lines are replaced by straight ones, and unequal halves, which are
deemed corresponding, are made alike. This method causes fundamental
error, since through its corrections, it renders impossible a critical
examination of the visual ability of wild races. The Orang-hûtan
draws a curve and sees it as a straight line, he makes too many legs,
too few fingers, but has, in spite of these faults, according to
our conceptions, the power of seizing abbreviations of parts of the
body in a picturesque manner, of skilfully interpreting contours and
of preparing intelligent ground-plans. The diagrammatic copying of
primitive ornamental forms can therefore have no scientific value.”

      [211] _Zeitschr. für Ethnologie_, xxvi., 1894, p. 142.

Two most important points to note are the locality whence an object
comes, and the date of its manufacture and collection.

The former is essential, and it is not sufficient to obtain a vague
locality like “New Guinea” or the “Solomon Islands,” but it is
necessary to know the district or the particular island, and, if
possible, the exact spot. Information must also be obtained whether
the object was made there or merely procured there. The native name of
every object must be obtained, also the name of the several parts of it
as well as of the details of its ornamentation. Of course the meaning
should, if possible, be ascertained, but on no account should only one
explanation be accepted as correct; it is necessary to check all such
information by inquiry from independent sources, as there are numerous
ways in which error can creep in, even when there is no question of
intentional deceit.

It is rarely possible to ascertain the date of manufacture when dealing
with ordinary ethnographical specimens in museums; as most of these are
quite recent no sequence in time can be made out. Even when objects
are collected in the field it is rarely possible to obtain a succession
of objects from a historical point of view. In all inquiries relating
to historical or pre-historical objects, the time-element is as
important as the place-element, and great care must be taken in order
to ascertain dates and the relation of periods.

A great deal of light can often be thrown upon the meaning of ornament
by a study of the manners and customs of a people; this is especially
the case for their religion, using that term in its widest sense.

As long ago as 1857 Mr. Kemble[212] urged that ornamentation should
be taken “seriously into consideration, because it forms one of the
most important and characteristic criterions by which to judge of the
tendency of a race. There is some reason in every ornament why it
recommended itself to some particular people. We do not know what the
reason was, but the difference itself is of the deepest moment.” He
points out that the spirit or feeling of art may be made the measure
of culture when the workman is at liberty to impose what form and
lines he will upon his material. Quite recently Professor Flinders
Petrie said,[213] “Art is one of the most important records of a
race. Each group of mankind has its own style and favourite manner,
more particularly in the decorative arts. A stray fragment of carving
without date or locality can be surely fixed in its place if there is
any sufficient knowledge of the art from which it springs. This study
of the art of a people is one of the highest branches of anthropology,
and one of the most important, owing to its persistent connection
with each race. No physical characteristics have been more persistent
than the style of decoration. When we see on the Celtic work of the
period of La Téne, or on Irish carvings, the same forms as on mediæval
ironwork, and on the flamboyant architecture of France, we realise
how innate is the love of style, and how similar expressions will
blossom out again from the same people. Even later we see the hideous
=C=-curves, which are neither foliage nor geometry, to be identical
on late Celtic bronze, on Louis XV. carvings, and even descending
by imitation into modern furniture. Such long descent of one style
through great changes of history is not only characteristic of Celtic
art, but is seen equally in Italy. Further east, the long-persistent
styles of Egypt, of Babylonia, of India, of China, which outlived all
changes of government and history, show the same vitality of art. We
must recognise, therefore, a principle of ‘racial taste,’ which belongs
to each people as much as their language, which may be borrowed, like
language, from one race by another, but which survives changes and long
eclipses even more than language. Such a means of research deserves
more systematic study than it has yet received.”

      [212] John M. Kemble, _Horæ Ferales, or Studies in the
      Archæology of the Northern Nations_, 1863, p. 80.

      [213] Address to the Anthropological Section, British
      Association, Ipswich Meeting, 1895.

It may be asked why I have so largely confined my attention to the
decorative art of savage peoples. The answer to this not unnatural
question will be found in my introductory remarks.

The decorative art of civilised peoples is very complex, and the
motives which prompt it are obscure; it appeared to me that our best
chance of finding out the underlying principles was to study less
complex conditions. I must confess that I have been mainly concerned
to provide an efficient tool for the use of other workers, and I have
not been anxious to elucidate the multitudinous designs and forms which
beset us on every hand. This task I leave to my readers, and they need
not confine themselves to decorative designs or patterns, for the forms
and the adjuncts of objects are susceptible of the same treatment, and
will yield analogous results.

Almost any manufactured object that may first meet the reader’s
eyes has a history that is bound up with the history of man. The
eyes alike of the head and of the mind require to be opened. Too
often we envy the traveller who has voyaged afar: If we had had his
opportunities, if we had seen what he has seen—we too might have been
able to make discoveries! We pine for the unattainable and neglect our
opportunities. The world is before us, and that too at our very doors.



   1. Part of the stone axe of Montezuma II., Ambras Museum, Vienna
      (J. Evans, _The Ancient Bronze Implements of Great Britain
      and Ireland_, 1881, Fig. 180, p. 148).
   2. Socket of a bronze spear-head, Co. Galway, Ireland (Evans,
      _loc. cit._, Fig. 393, p. 320).
   3. Socket of a bronze spear-head, Ireland (Evans, _loc. cit._,
      Fig. 402, p. 326).
   4. Bronze palstave (socketed celt), Co. Meath, Ireland (Evans,
      _loc. cit._, Fig. 172, p. 140).
   5. Bronze vessel, Lake of Bourget (F. Keller, _The Lake
      Dwellings of Switzerland_, 2nd ed., 1878, Plate CLIX., Fig. 1).
   6. Pattern on an ebony comb, Assyria (G. Perrot and C. Chipiez,
      _History of Art in Chaldæa and Assyria_, ii., 1884, Fig. 227,
      p. 350).
   7. Pattern on a sculptured stone cornice (Perrot and Chipiez,
      _History of Ancient Egyptian Art_, ii., 1883, Fig. 288,
      p. 361, from Prisse d’Avennes).
   8. Pattern on a perforated bone needle, Tumulus, Holyhead (W.
      Owen Stanley, _Arch, Journ._, xxxiii., 1876, pp. 94, 133).
   9. Back of a bronze knife, Estavayer (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate
      XCVI., Fig. 12).
  10. Bronze palstave, near Kingston-on-Thames (Evans, _loc. cit._,
      Fig. 141, p. 125).
  11. Bronze palstave, Fornham, near Bury St. Edmunds (Evans, _loc.
      cit._, Fig. 133, p. 122).
  _a._ “Angular Meander,” Wolvesey Castle, Winchester, _temp._
      Stephen (_Archæologia_, xvi., 1812, p. 361, Plate LXII., Fig.
  _b._ Norman capital, “sections of branches” or billet ends,
      Peterborough Cathedral (_Archæologia_, xii., 1796, Plate
      XXXI., Fig. 4, p. 168).
  _c._ Hut-urn, Etruscan, Monte Albano (_Museo Kircheriano, Rome_),
  _d-f._ Skeuomorphs of the gable (_Household Furniture_).

[Illustration: Plate I]


   1. Impression of wattle-work on clay, Ebersberg (Keller, _loc.
      cit._, Plate CXLIV., Fig. 16).
   2. Bast twisted among willow rods, Robenhausen (Keller, _loc.
      cit._, Plate CXXXIV., Fig. 5).
   3. Mat of bast, Robenhausen (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate CXXXIV.,
      Fig. 2).
   4. Fabric of flax, Robenhausen (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate
      CXXXVI., Fig. 4).
   5. Fabric of bast, Robenhausen (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate
      CXXXV., Fig. 3).
   6. Corbula, Italy (W. Smith, _Dict. Roman Antiq._, p. 285).
   7. Basket on ivory plaque, Boulak (Perrot and Chipiez, _Egypt_,
      ii., Fig. 321, p. 388).
   8. Earthenware food-vessel, Stone Age, Denmark (Worsaae, _Danish
      Arts_, p. 36).
   9. Bottom of a basket, Terramara Beds, Northern Italy (Keller,
      _loc. cit._, Plate CXVI., Fig. 11).
  10. Fragment of Pottery, Terramara Beds, Northern Italy (Keller,
      _loc. cit._, Plate CXIII., Fig. 13).

[Illustration: Plate II]


   A. Hypothetical origin of a scroll from basket-work.
   B. Hypothetical origin of a curvilinear fret from basket-work.
   1. Marginal pattern of a bronze buckler from Amathus, Cyprus (G.
      Perrot and C. Chipiez, _History of Art on Phœnicia and its
      Dependencies_, ii., 1885, Fig. 363, p. 420).
   2. Pattern on a bronze buckler from Dali, Cyprus (Perrot and
      Chipiez, _loc. cit._, Fig. 360, p. 418).
   3. Greek guilloche (Wornum, _Analysis of Ornament_, 7th ed.,
      p. 58).
   4. Assyrian guilloche (Glazier, _Notes on Ornament_, p. 8).
   5. Pattern on an enamelled Roman vase, Bartlow Hills (_Arch.
      Journ._, xii., 1855, p. 418).
   6. Bowl of Ancient Pueblos, Tusayan (W. H. Holmes, _Fourth Ann.
      Rep. Bureau Eth._, Fig. 308, p. 331).
   7. Handled vase of Ancient Pueblos, Tusayan (_loc. cit._, Fig.
      336, p. 346).
   8. Terra-cotta vase, Third Sepulchre of Mycenæ (Schliemann,
      _Mycenæ_, 1878, No. 324, p. 209).

[Illustration: Plate III]


   1. “The Tarsus Seal” of hæmatite, Hittite (_Nature_, April 26,
      1888, p. 610). The right-hand design strongly resembles a
      course of the twisted fibre of basketry when removed from the
      upright osier-sticks.
   2. Detail on incised stone, Kirk Maughold, Isle of Man (_Runic
      Remains_, Fig. 24).
   3. Detail on incised stone, Church of Mont Majour, Nimes, tenth
      century (Wright, _Hist. of Caricature_, p. 48).
   4. Detail on incised stone, Malew, Isle of Man; “Leather or
      strap-work” (_Runic Remains_, Fig. 15).


   5. Gold ornament, Lake Möringen (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate
      LVII., Fig. 9).
   6. Gold ornament, Denmark (Worsaae, _Danish Arts_, p. 62).
   7. Bronze pin, Nidau—Steinberg (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate
      XXXIV., Fig. 14).


   8. Floor of lake-dwelling, Niederwyl, 1864 (Keller, _loc. cit._,
      Plate XVI., Fig. 8).
   9. Bottom of inside of an earthen vessel, Ueberlingen See
      (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate XXX., Fig. 6).
  10. Part of a crescent of red sandstone, Ebersberg (Keller, _loc.
      cit._, Plate CXLIII., Fig. 7).
  11. Incised stone from Hadrian’s Wall.


  12. Greek fret (Birch, _Ancient Pottery_, Fig. 4, p. 305).
  13. Greek fret (Glazier, _Notes on Ornament_, p. 8).
  14. Japanese fret (Glazier, _loc. cit._, p. 8).
  15. Anglo-Saxon fret, Lambeth Aldhelm (J. O. Westwood, “Early
      British Anglo-Saxon and Irish Ornamentation,” _Arch. Journ._,
      x. p. 290, 1853).

[Illustration: Plate IV]


   1. Rock tomb, Antiphellus, Lycia (C. Fellows, _A Journal written
      during an Excursion in Asia Minor_, 1839, p. 220).
   2. Rock tomb, Xanthus (Fellows, _loc. cit._, p. 226).
   3. Rock tomb, Antiphellus (Fellows, _loc. cit._, p. 219).
   4. Painting of a house, Pompeii (Gell, Plate 60).
   5. Greek egg-and-dart, or Echinus pattern, from entablature,
   6. Similar pattern on Samian vase (Wornum, _loc. cit._, p. 58).
   7. Greek anthemion, Apollo Epicurius (Wornum, _loc. cit._,
      p. 58).

[Illustration: Plate V]


   1. Detail on a vase from Roman villa, Chesterford, Essex (R. C.
      Neville, “Roman Remains at Ickleton and Chesterford,” _Arch.
      Journ._, vi., 1849, p. 19).
   2. Part of iron sword of Gaulish workmanship, Marin Lake
      (Keller, _loc. cit._, Plate CXXVIII., Fig. 6).
   3. Detail of mural decoration, Pompeii (_Art Journal_, 1877,
      p. 233).
   4. Decoration of an ancient pot of New Mexico (J. Stevenson,
      “Illust. Cat. of Collections obtained from Indians of New
      Mexico and Arizona,” _Second Ann. Rep. Bureau Ethnol._, 1883,
      Fig. 363, p. 344).
   5. Lombardic gold ornament, Chiusi, Tuscany (S. T. Baxter,
      _Arch. Journ._, xxxiii., 1876, Plate I., p. 105).
   6. Decoration in Greek terra-cotta (Wornum, _loc. cit._, p. 28).
   7. Top of bench-end, Ormskirk Church (_Manchester Guardian_,
      10th November 1888).
   8. Engraved silver plate, Tumulus, Norrie’s Law, Scotland (R.
      Dundas, “Silver Ornaments in Tumulus at Largo, Fifeshire,”
      _Arch. Journ._, vi., 1849, p. 253).
   9. Incised stone, Dunnichen, Scotland (Boyd Dawkins, _Early Man
      in Britain_, p. 435).
  10-12. Carving on New Zealand clubs, in the collection of Mr.
      Charles Heape.
  13. Part of carved handle of Hervey Island paddle, in the
      collection of Mr. Charles Heape.

[Illustration: Plate VI]


   1. Detail on incised-stone, Isle of Man (_Runic Remains_,
      Fig. 15).
   2. Figure from King Gorm’s stone, Jellinge, Jutland (J.
      Ferguson, _Rude Stone Monuments_, 1872, Fig. 105, p. 296).
   3. Detail on carved cross, Gosforth, W. Cumberland (W. S.
      Calverley, _Arch. Journ._, xl., 1883, p. 146).
   4. Panel in illumination, Gospels of Mac Regol, at Oxford
      (_Arch. Journal_, x., 1853, p. 291, Fig. 6).
   5. Detail on incised stone, Kirk Michael, Isle of Man (_Runic
      Remains_, Fig. 17).
   6, 7. Figures on rock sculpture, Crichie, Scotland (_Arch.
      Journ._ xiv., 1857. p, 193, Figs. 13, 14).
   8. Saxon silver ear-ring, Thetford (_Arch. Journ._ ii., 1846,
      p. 402).
   9. Saxon gold ring, Bormer, Sussex (_Arch. Journ._ xi., 1854,
      p. 28).
  10. Detail on Saxon tomb, Bedale, Yorks (_Arch. Journ._ iii.,
      1846, p. 258).


  11. Detail on lid of a stone coffin, Cambridge Castle (T.
      Kerrich, _Arch._ xvii., 1814, Plate XVI., p. 228).
  12. Scandinavian triskele.
  13. Reefing knot on Britanno-Roman altar, _Cohors quarta Gallorum
      equitata_, Risingham, Northumberland (_Arch. Journ._ xii.,
      1855, p. 219).

[Illustration: Plate VII]


   A, B. Diagrams of Mats.
   1. Fringe on King Sargon’s tunic, in alabaster, Khorsabad
      (Perrot and Chipiez, _Chaldæa and Assyria_, i., Fig. 22,
      p. 97).
   2. Tabernacle, bronze Gates of Balawat (Perrot and Chipiez,
      _Chaldæa, etc._, i., Fig. 68, p. 194).
   3. Painting of a tree in a garden from a Theban tomb (Perrot and
      Chipiez, _Egypt_, ii., Fig. 1, p. 3, after Champollion, Plate
   4. Ornament painted on plaster, Assyria (Perrot and Chipiez,
      _Chaldæa, etc._, i., Fig. 118, p. 276, after Layard).
   5. Tassel on a king’s tunic, on enamelled brick from Nimroud
      (Perrot and Chipiez, _Chaldæa, etc._, ii., Plate XIV.,
      p. 294, after Layard).
   6. Tasselled canopy over the king, on enamelled brick from
      Nimroud (_loc. cit._ ii., Plate XIV., after Layard).
   7. Pavilion carved in stone, Nimroud (_loc. cit._ i., Fig. 67,
      p. 193).
   8. Border pattern of incised stone door sill, Khorsabad (_loc.
      cit._ i., Fig. 96, p. 240).
   9. Enamelled brick, Nimroud (_loc. cit._ ii., Plate XIII.,
      p. 294, after Layard).
  10. Pattern on ivory panel, Assyrian anthemion (_loc. cit._ ii.,
      Fig. 201, p. 321).
  11. Anthemion on Sindh pottery (G. Birdwood, _Indust. Arts of
      India_, ii. 424).
  12. Egyptian anthemion, Necropolis, Thebes (xviii-xx. Dyn.)
      (Perrot and Chipiez, _Chaldæa, etc._, i., Fig. 134, p. 306,
      after Prisse d’Avennes).

[Illustration: Plate VIII]


  Accadian Magic, 249
  Adze-god Tane, 82, 274
  Adzes of Hervey Islands, 80
  Ægean spirals, 142
  Ægina, tortoise-money, 230, 232, 233
  Æsthetics, definition of, 200
  African, axes as money, 226;
    baskets, 91;
    fylfot, 287
  Alaskan carving, 210, 211;
    pictograph, 207, 208
  Algerian designs, 156
  Alligator, 167;
    drawings of, in America, 168-173
    (see Crocodile)
  Alphabet, evolution of, 216
  Ament, W. S., 227
  American cross, 174, 279;
    fylfot, 287;
    pictographs, 204-213
  Ancestor worship, 264-267;
    Polynesia, 81, 265, 270-274
  Animal forms in art, 164-183;
    Samian, Gaul, Pompeii, Tuscany, New Mexico, 179;
    Torres Straits, 15;
    Eskimo, 181;
    in Melanesia, Polynesia, Africa, Eskimo, French caves, 166
  Animals, human souls in, 129, 130;
    as sun symbols, 136
  Annam, barter, 226
  Ansault, Abbé, 281
  Anthemion, 143
  Anthropomorphs, 183-187, 199;
    in Greece, 183;
    New Guinea, 16-19, 29-41, 184;
    New Zealand, 185; Melanesia, 185;
    Hawaii, 186;
    Mangaia (Hervey Islands), 185, 270-274;
    Polynesia, 185
  Antiphellus, rock tombs, 114, 115
  Arabesque patterns, 193
  Arabian art, 152
  Ardmore Round Tower, 90
  Argus pheasant in magic, 241, 243
  Arizona, basketry, 104;
    rain symbol, 119
  Arrow, crocodile, 20
  Arrows, Torres Straits, 19-25
  Art, definition of, 200;
    ethnological value of, 9, 323-325, 336, 337
  Asia Minor, rock tombs of, 114-116;
    triskele in, 289
  Assyrian Anthemion, 144;
    magic, 249;
    patterns, 143;
    writing, 218-221
  Atkinson, J. J., on pottery, 99
  Australian art, 324;
    baskets, 91;
    designs, 258-263;
    totemism, 255-263;
    weapons, 258
  Axe, double-headed, as money, 232;
    New Guinea, 222;
    as money, 226;
    stone as money, 225

  Balfour, H., 311;
    on frigate-bird, 266;
    on maces, 222;
    on mandrake, 5
  Barter, evolution of, 223-225
  Basketry, 90-93;
    of Arizona, 104
  Baskets, making of, 91
  Bat patterns, Brazil, 175, 178
  Beading, origin of, 86
  Beal, 280
  Bechuana, sympathetic magic, 236
  Belts, wooden, Papuan Gulf, 31-41
  Biological method of studying art, 308
  Biomorphs, life-history of, 126-191
  Biomorphic pottery, 188-191
  Bird and crocodile design, 56
  Bird’s-head designs, New Guinea, 49-58
  Bird design, Pompeian, 194;
    patterns, Brazil, 178
  Birdwood, Sir G., 214, 292;
    on Indian art, 151, 153
  Blanket-money, 228, 230
  Blind, Karl, 279, 285
  Blowpipe, magic patterns on, 237, 239
  Boar, Sun-, 195
  Bœotian shield money, 230, 233
  Bonavia, Dr. E., Assyrian art, 156-157
  Boulak ivory plaque, 91
  Bowl, prayer-meal, 121
  Brazil, art of, 259;
    Central, art of tribes, 174-179;
    patterns, 97;
    phyllomorphs of Central, 130, 131
  Brinton, Dr., on colour symbols, 124
  British Columbia, totem-posts, 257, 265
  British magic, 249
  British New Guinea (see New Guinea)
  Bronze celt, 85, 86
  Bruce, R., 29
  Brugsch, Dr., on lotus, 135
  Buddhist sculptures, 151;
    symbols, 281
  Bull-roarer, Brazil, 176, 178;
    New Guinea, 62
  Bulmer, Mr., 260, 261

  Canoe carving, New Guinea, 29, 48, 54, 57
  Canoe charm, Solomons, 266, 267
  Canoes, trade in, 48
  Cash, 227
  Cassowary clan, 251, 257
  Cattle-money, 228, 229
  Celtic art, 337;
    fylfot, 283;
    spirals, 142;
    wicker house, 90
  Centipede in magic, 242, 243
  Chaldean art, 329;
    commerce, 151
  Chalmers, Rev. J., 31, 184
  Chantre, E., 297
  Chauncy, P., 259
  Chinese art, 337;
    knife-money, 226, 227;
    lotus, 153;
    money, 226;
    svastika, 287, 294;
    writing, 217-221
  Christian art, pagan survivals in, 195-197;
    fylfot, 283
  Circles, concentric, 93
  Clarke, Dr. J. T., 158
  Cloudy Bay, 42
  Clubs, wooden, in New Guinea, 48-56, 62
  Codrington, Dr. R. H., 97, 265-267
  Coffey, G., on Irish art, 142, 328
  Coins, degeneration in, 313
  Collier, J., 1, 2
  Collins, Mr., Australian art, 260
  Colours, symbolic, 123, 124
  Combs, magic, 237-241;
    Torres Straits, 14
  Comrie, Dr., 63, 64
  Concentric circles, 93;
    ovals, 55
  Consciousness in designing patterns, 315, 316
  Cook, A. B., 265
  Cook, Captain, 83
  Copying of patterns, 311
  Corbula, the Roman, 91
  Crete spirals, 142
  Crocodile in art, New Guinea, Torres Straits, 16-25;
    Massim, 56, 181;
    Papuan Gulf, 30;
    cult of, in New Guinea, 167;
    Malay Archipelago, 167;
    Madagascar, 168
    (see Alligator)
  Cross, from alligator, 172;
    gibbet, 277, 279;
    in America, 174, 279;
    St. Anthony, 277
  Crux ansata, 278, 298
  Cushing, F. H., 107, 248;
    on pottery, 98, 99, 102-104;
    on life-exit trail, 128;
    on symbolism, 119-123
  Cyprus bronze shield, 92;
    pottery, 137, 158;
    lotus designs, 158
  Cyrene plant money, 230, 233
  Cyzicus, fish money, 230-232

  Dakota Winter Counts, 206
  D’Albertis, 27, 63
  D’Alviella, Goblet, 275-300
  Danish food-vessel, 91
  Darfour, hoes as money, 226
  Daudai and Torres Straits, art of, 13-25
  Daula (frigate-bird), 265-267
  Daumori, wooden slabs, 26
  Designs, geographical distribution of, 319
  D’Entrecasteaux, 47, 50, 52, 54, 56, 71
  Distribution, geographical, of designs, 319
  Divine pedigree in art, 274
  Dragon, Scandinavian, 195
  Drum decoration, in New Guinea, 17, 18, 131
  Dumoutier, G., 287
  Dutch New Guinea (see Netherlands)

  Earth symbol, 280
  East Indian Archipelago, 28
  Ebersberg, clay walls, 89, 95
  Egg-and-dart moulding, origin of, 160-163
  Egyptian art, 133-164, 187, 325, 329, 337;
    totemism, 265;
    writing, 217-221
  Ehrenreich, Dr. P., 173, 259, 262, 332
  Elema (see Toaripi)
  Elephant symbol, 195
  Ellis, Rev. W., 274
  Emblems, 212
  Engineer Group, 48, 57
  English, A. C., 45
  Environment, effect of, 9
  Eskimo, animal drawings, 181
  Ethnological aspect of art, 9;
    value of art, 323-325, 336, 337
  Ethnology of British New Guinea, 59-66, 328;
    of Polynesia, 69
  Evans, Sir John, 313
  Evans, Arthur J., on spirals, 142, 328
  Expectancy, definition of, 6
  Eye-amulets of Egypt, 187

  Fascining, 94
  Fellows, Sir C., on rock-tombs, 114
  Fergusson, on Indian architecture, 151, 153
  Ferrero, G., 278, 300, 301
  Fewkes, Dr. J. W., rain symbols, 120;
    on colour symbols, 123
  Fiji club, 88;
    pottery, 108, 191;
    scroll designs, 71;
    tapa, 96
  Finn magic, 249
  Finsch, Dr. O., 47, 63, 98
  Fishing formula, 247
  Fish, as money, 230-232;
    patterns in Brazil, 174, 176-179;
    totem, 212;
    Christian, 213
  Fish-hook money, 227;
    ornaments derived from, 76
  Fison and Howitt, 256
  Fleur-de-lys, 156
  Flower, Sir W., 64
  Flowers, in art, 131, 132 (see Lotus);
    in magic, 237-241
  Fly River, 26-28;
    a culture-route, 70;
    mouth of, 26, 19;
    phyllomorphs, 131
  Forbes, Dr. H. O., 98;
    on pottery making, 48
  Frazer, J. G., 235, 236, 250-252
  French, G. J., on pottery, 109
  Freshwater Bay, 29
  Fret, 326;
    from alligator, 111, 112, 123, 141, 172
  Friend, H., on colour symbols, 124
  Frigate-bird, in Melanesia, 265-267;
    New Guinea, 49, 66, 325, 326;
    Solomon Islands, 66, 325
  Fringe patterns, 144-148
  Frogs’ legs as zigzags, 244, 248
  Frogs, magic patterns of, 244, 248
  Fylfot, meaning and distribution of, 282-301

  Gable, 116
  Gammadion (see Fylfot)
  Gardner, Prof. P., 290
  Gauls, erections of, 90
  Gaulish imitation coin, 198
  Geelvink Bay, 131, 325
  Geographical distribution of design, 319
  Geometrical designs, 258, 259
  Gill, Dr. W. W., 255, 270, 274;
    on New Guinea axes, 79;
    on Hervey Island adze, 80
  Globe, winged, 298
  Goodyear, Professor W. H., 134, 162, 163, 248, 290, 292-294;
    on Malay art, 67;
    on New Zealand art, 68;
    on rosettes, 149, 151, 152
  Gourd pottery, 188, 189
  Greece, evolution of anthropomorphs in, 183
    fylfot in, 282, 283;
    totemism in ancient, 265
  Greek alphabet, 220;
    art, origin of, 155
  Greg, R. P., 288, 292
  Grosse, Dr. E., 258-263
  Grotesque patterns, 193
  Grünwedel, Professor, 114, 237, 252, 334
  Guilloche, 49-51, 92, 93, 162, 163
  Guttæ, 115

  Haida totemism, 257
  Hall Sound, 42, 46
  Hammer of Thor, 278
  Hamy, Professor E. T., 47, 325
  Harvest formula, 247
  Hawaii, gods of, 186
  Heraldic designs, 262, 263
  Hervey Islands, symbolic adzes, 80-84;
    decoration on symbolic adzes and paddles, 270-274;
    totemism, 255;
    anthropomorphic patterns, 185, 186, 265, 270-274
  Heteromorphs, 192
  Hickson, Prof. S. J., 69
  Hieratic writing, 220
  Hill tribes, New Guinea, 46
  Hissarlik, 282, 284
    (see Troy)
  Hjaltalin, A., 285
  Hoes as money, 226
  Hoffman, Dr. W. J., pictographs, 206, 207
  Holmes, W. H., 107, 110, 114, 168-173;
    on pottery, 98, 101, 102;
    on symbolism, 122;
    shell pottery, 91, 190
  Homomorph, 215
  Honeysuckle pattern, 162
  Hornbill design, 58
  Horses, drawings of, 166, 167;
    zoomorph from, 180
  House-building formula, 246, 247
  Hügel, Baron A. von, 71
  Hulme, F. E., egg-and-dart moulding, 163, 164
  Human, face on wooden belts, 32;
    figures in plait-work, 198, 199
    (see Anthropomorphs)
  Hunter, J. D., on pottery, 100
  Hunting pictograph, 206-208
  Hut urn, 115, 283

  Iceland, fylfot in, 285
  Ideograms, 216-218
  Ilios, 284
  Indian art, 151-153, 337;
    sun symbols, 290;
    svastika, 286, 294
  Information, definition of, 4, 203
  Initiation into manhood, 30, 31, 61
  Invention of patterns, 309
  Ionic capital, evolution of, 157-160
  Irish carvings, 337;
    round towers, 90;
    fylfot in, 283;
    spirals in art, 142
  Iroquois bark vessel, 102, 103
  Italy, North, fylfot in, 283

  Japanese writing, 218, 219;
    svastika, 287, 294
  Java drum, 83

  Kay, C. de, 90
  Keane, A. H., 68
  Keller, Dr., 89, 91
  Kemble, J. M., 336
  Kerepunu tapa, 96
  Kern, M., 286
  Kerrama belt, 35
  Kiwai, drums of, 26
  Klemm, Dr. G., on Tonga [Fiji] pottery, 108
  Knife-money, 226
  Knots, 94;
    magic, 248-250
  Kobong, Australian totem, 262
  Koiari, 44, 61
  Koitapu tattooing, 61
  Kupele pipe, 44, 45

  Landscapes, native, 124-126;
    reversed, 126
  Lang, Andrew, on savage art, 263
  Lasso pictograph, 206
  Layard, A. H., on lotus, 143, 144
  Leaf designs, 28;
    totems, 250, 253, 254
    (see Phyllomorphs and Plant)
  Lean-Wolf’s map, 208-210
  Leather money, 228
  Leitner, Dr., on Buddhist art, 151
  Letronne, 278
  Letters, origin of, 217
  Lianas, magic patterns of, 244
  Life-exit trail in a vessel, 128
  Life-history in designs, table of, 6, 8
  Lightning symbol, 118-120, 276
  Lime spatula, 48, 49, 52-54, 57
  Lindt, 42
  Lizard, on arrow, 25;
    on belt, 37;
    designs, Australia, 260;
    patterns, Brazil, 175
  Locust pattern, Brazil, 179
  Lotus, 133-164, 325
  Louisiade Group, 47, 52;
    stone axes, 71, 79
  Lycia, triskele, 214;
    rock tombs, 114-116

  Maces, evolution of, 222
  Macfarlane, Rev. S., 63
  Macgillivray, 224
  Macgregor, Sir W., 28, 58, 225
  Magic knots, 248-250;
    patterns, 237-248;
    sympathetic, 5, 6, 235-250
  Maiva belt, 39
  Malacca, magic patterns, 237-248;
    phyllomorphs of, 132;
    totemism and tattooing in, 252-254
  Malay Archipelago, decorative art, 67-70, 326;
    plant designs, 131, 132
  Malay culture derived from India, 67, 69
  Malay Peninsula, magic patterns, 236-248
  Malaysia, scroll designs, 67
  Mallery, Col. Garrick, 275;
    colour symbolism, 124;
    pictographs, 204-213, 215;
    sign language, 212
  Man, E. H., on pottery, 100
  Mandrake, 6
  Mangaia adzes, 80-84;
    decoration on adzes and paddles of, 270-274;
    anthropomorphs, 185, 186, 265, 270-274;
    totemism, 255
  Manhood, initiation into, 30, 31, 61
  Manx, three-legged, 214
  Maori scroll designs, 72
  Map, Lean-Wolf’s, 208-210
  March, Dr. H. Colley, 6, 44, 65, 66, 75, 82, 84, 91, 93, 115, 130,
    147, 163, 179, 194, 197, 198, 248, 250, 271-274, 276, 285, 288
  Marks, trade and owner’s, 203
  Masks, New Guinea, 62;
    Papuan Gulf, 30;
    Torres Straits, 18, 30
  Maspero, Prof., 296;
    on Ra, 137;
    on Egyptian art, 148, 248
  Massim, district groups of, 47-58
  Mathews on symbolic colours, 24
  Mats, making of, 90
  Meander (see Fret)
  Melanesian, use of term, 60;
    ethnology and handicraft, 60-66;
    frigate-bird, 265-267;
    pottery, 158, 159
  Melos lotus designs, 158;
    spirals, 142;
    vase decoration, 139
  Men, drawings of, 16-19
  Mereschu fish pattern, 176-179
  Mesembria, 290
  Mesopotamian art, 143
  Method of studying art, 306-336
  Mexico, New, bird patterns, 179
  Miava, 44
  Millies, H. C., Oriental money, 227
  Milloué, M. de, 287
  Milne Gulf, 47
  Mohammedan art, 151, 152
  Money, evolution of, 223-234
  Montelius, Dr., on spirals, 93
  Montezuma’s stone axe, 85
  Moon symbol, 292
  Moresby Group, 47
  Moseley, Professor, Hawaian gods, 186
  Motu Motu, 29
  Motu tribes, 46, 61;
    ethnography, 64-66;
    girl tattooed, 43;
    trading voyages, 330
  Müller, Max, 280, 292, 331;
    on colour symbols, 124
  Murray Island (Mer), 18;
    native drawing of, 125;
    ornaments derived from fish-hook, 76
  Murray, Prof. A. S., 292
  Mycenæ art, 142;
    totemism, 265;
    vessel, 92

  Naukratis lotus, 161
  Neandria capital, 158
  Net, fishing, designs, 176, 177
  Netherlands New Guinea, 28, 325
  New Caledonia pottery, 97, 98
  New Guinea, 11;
    animal representations, 164, 165;
    anthropomorphs, 184;
    art, 324-328;
    barter in, 46-48, 223-225;
    bird’s-head designs, 49-58;
    bird and crocodile design, 56;
    bull-roarer, 62;
    Central district of, 42-46;
    ethnology of British, 59-66;
    ethnology of, 328;
    hill tribes, 46;
    metamorphosis of stone axe, 78;
    phyllomorphs, 131;
    “Polynesians” in, 63;
    pottery, 46-48, 62, 98;
    scroll patterns, 67-73, 314;
    tapa belts, 96;
    tattooing, 43-45
  New Hebrides, 66
  New Ireland carvings, 265
  Newton, J., 214
  New Zealand anthropomorphs, 185;
    ethnology of, 71;
    scroll designs, 67, 68, 71, 72;
    tongue thrusting, 186, 187
  North American totems, 257

  Oceania pottery, 97
  Olbia, fish money, 230, 231, 233
  Orang-hûtan, 242, 334
  Ornaments as money, 224, 228, 229
  Osiris, lotus offering to, 136

  Paddle with fish designs, 176, 177
  Pagan and Christian overlap in art, 195-197
  Painting on body, 253, 254
  Palstave, 85
  Pannaet axe-money, 225;
    canoes, 48
  Papuan, use of term, 60;
    ethnology and handicraft, 60-66
  Papuan Gulf, 29-41;
    classification of wooden belts, 32
  Patterns, copying of, 311;
    invention of, 309;
    in New Guinea, 314;
    magic, 237-248
  Perrot and Chipiez, 75;
    on lotus, 143;
    Phoenician art, 153, 154
  Persian fylfot, 286, 298
  Petrie, Flinders, Prof., 89, 221;
    on spiral symbols, 141;
    on rosettes, 148, 149;
    on the study of art, 336
  Petroglyphs, 215
  Phœnician art, 153, 154;
    commerce, 154;
    writing, 220
  Phonograms, 216-218
  Phyllomorphs, 130-164
    (see Plant)
  Physicomorphs, 118-126
  Pictographs, 204-218
  Pictorial signs, 212
  Picture-writing, 178
  Pipe, Torres Straits, 13;
    Fly River, 19;
    Papuan Gulf, 40;
    burning of, in Central District, 42
  Pitt-Rivers, General, 311
  Plant Designs, Fly River, 28;
    Central District New Guinea, 45;
    totems, 253, 254;
    magic climbing, 244;
    money, 233, 234
    (see Phyllomorphs)
  Polynesia, ethnology of, 69
  “Polynesians” in New Guinea, 63
  Pompeian designs, 193
  Port Moresby pottery, 46
  Posts, totem, 257, 265
  Pottery, 97;
    biomorphic, 188-191;
    Cyprus, 137;
    New Guinea, 46-48, 62, 98;
    Nicobar, 100;
    Oceania, 97;
    Port Moresby, 46;
    Pueblo, 93, 100-102;
    Terramara, 91;
    Teste Island, 47, 48;
    West Pacific, 97-99;
    Zuñi, 103, 104, 105-107;
    trade, 47, 48
  Powell, Major, his totem badge, 119
  Prince of Wales’ feather, 156, 157
  Prisse d’Avennes, 136, 138-141, 159
  Psychology, 300-305, 333
  Pueblo Pottery, 93, 100, 102-111
  Pyung fruit pattern, 246

  Quatrefages and Hamy, 63, 64

  Rain-charm, Malacca, 246
  Rain symbols, 119-122, 279
  Rattan pattern, 248
  Rau, C., on pottery, 109
  Ray, S. H., 60, 71;
    on New Guinea languages, 64
  Read, C. H., 271;
    on Polynesian art, 185
  Rebus, 217, 218
  Religion, definition of, 5, 267;
    evolution of, 268
  Religion in art, 81-84, 118-123, 133, 235, 270-305
  Réville, Albert, 279
  Rhodes, lotus designs, 158, 161
  Ridgeway, Prof. W., origin of money, 226-234
  Rigo, district tattooing, 45
  Robenhausen, baskets, 91
  Rock tombs in Asia Minor, 114-116
  Roman vase, 92
  Rome, fylfot in, 283
  Romilly, H. H., 79
  Rosettes, 140, 148-150, 162, 163
  Round Towers, Ireland, 90

  Sabagorar, 76
  Samian pottery, 160, 179
  Sauvastika, 292
  Scandinavian fylfot, 285;
    inroads, 90;
    magic, 249;
    mythology, 196;
    sun-snake, 194;
    worm-knot, 94
  Scarification, 61;
    of totems, 252, 256
  Schliemann, 142, 278, 280, 282, 287, 292
  Scorpion in magic, 242, 243
  Scroll designs, 49-56, 93, 163;
    guilloches, 49-51, 163;
    Cornwall, 179;
    from lotus, 139-142;
    New Guinea, 67-73, 326;
    New Zealand, 67, 68, 71, 72, 326;
    Fiji, 71;
    Malaysia, 67;
    from alligator, 171, 172;
    symbolism of, 122, 123 (see Spiral)
  Semang magic patterns, 237-248
  Semitic writing, 220
  Semper, Prof. G., 75, 158
  Sergi, Prof., 60, 64
  Shell-money, 224, 228
  Shell pottery, 189, 191
  Shield-money, 233
  Shields, Papuan Gulf, 30
  Sicily, Triskele of, 214
  Sickness, magic patterns against, 237-245
  Signature-lore, 235
  Silphium plant-money, 233, 234
  Silvestre, J., 227
  Sinaugolo tattooing, 45
  Sinnet in Oceania, 85
  Sinnet, skeuomorphs of, 87, 88
  Skeuomorphs, forms of, 75-117, 194-199
  Skin disease, magic against, 244, 245
  Smyth, Brough, 259, 261
  Snake arrow, 25;
    designs, Australia, 260;
    patterns in Brazil, 174-178;
    Scandinavian Sun-, 194;
    totems, 251-253
  Solomon Islands, 66;
    frigate bird, 66, 265, 267, 325;
    canoe charm, 266, 267
  Soul, emblems of, 129, 141
  South Cape axes, 79;
    ethnography of, 65, 66
  Southesk, Earl of, 180, 195, 278
  Spatula, lime, 48, 49, 52-54, 57
  Spirals, 28, 49, 93, 94, 141, 163;
    early European art, 73;
    bird, 49-57;
    lotus, 139-142;
    on pottery, 111 (see Scroll)
  Squier and Davis on pottery, 100;
    gourd pottery, 188
  Stag, Sun-, 194
  Star-symbols, 288, 289, 291, 292
  Stater, 198
  Steinen, Prof. K. von den, 97, 130, 131, 173-179, 332
  Stevens, Prof. G., 196
  Stevens, H. V., 332;
    on magic patterns, 236;
    on totemism, 252, 254
  Stokes, Dr. W., on colour symbols, 123
  Stolpe, Dr. H., 9, 81, 185, 186, 270, 271, 334
  Stone-axe, fastenings of, 85;
    metamorphosis of, 78
  Suggestion, definition of, 5
  Sun, animal symbols of, 136;
    boar, 195;
    stag, 194;
    snake, 194;
    symbols, 289-291;
    Triskele, 213
  Svoronas, M. J., 291
  Swiss lake-dwelling bronze vessel, 87
  Swiss lake-dwelling huts, 89
  Symbolism, 264; of colour, 123, 124;
    religious, 275-305;
    psychology of, 300-305;
    definition of, 212;
    Buddhist, 281;
    of earth, 280; of lightning, 276;
    of moon, 292;
    of rain, 279;
    of sun, 289-291;
    of water, 122;
    of wind, 122, 123, 279
  Symmorph, 215
  Sympathetic magic, 5, 6, 235-250

  Tane, the adze-god, 82, 274
  Tapa, 95, 96;
    printing on, 95, 96
  Tau, 277-279
  Tassel patterns, 144-148
  Tattooing in Malacca, 253, 254;
    Maori, 72;
    Melanesian, 61;
    in New Guinea, 43-45;
    in Rigo, 45;
    and totemism, 252-256
  Taylor, Dr. Isaac, 166, 167, 283;
    alphabet, 216, 218, 219
  Taylor, 286
  Tenedos axe money, 230, 232
  Terramara pottery, 91
  Teste Island canoe carving, 57;
    pottery of, 47, 48
  Tetraskele (see Fylfot)
  Textiles, 89
  Thebes Necropolis, tomb decorations, 136-141
  Thibet svastika, 287, 294
  Thomas, E. B., 280
  Thompson, W. D’Arcy, 291;
    on animal symbols on Greek coins, 234
  Thongs, absence of, in Oceania, 85
  Thor’s hammer, 278;
    in modern Germany, 279
  Tiki-tiki pattern, 271, 274
  Toaripi, 29;
    belt, 38
  Tonga clubs, 86-88, 192;
    drum, 83;
    frigate-bird on club, 88;
    pottery, 108
  Tongue-thrusting in New Zealand, 186, 187
  Torres Straits and Daudai, art of, 13-15;
    barter, 224, 225;
    totemism, 251, 252
  Tortoise eggs, magic pattern, 246
  Tortoise money, 232, 233
  Totem animals, 17, 30, 212
  Totemism, 41, 250;
    in ancient Greece, 265;
    in Malacca, 252-254;
    and tattooing, 252-256
  Totem-posts, 257, 265;
    British Columbia, 265
  Trade marks on pottery, 48
  Triskele or Triquetra, 213, 214
  Trobiand Group, art of, 58;
    houses, 61;
    trade of, 47;
    crocodile pattern, 181;
    spatulas of, 54
  Troy (see Hissarlik), 289
  Tsuboi, S., on tongue-thrusting, 187;
    on eye-amulets, 187
  Tunny-fish as money, 230-232
  Tusayan pottery, 111-114
  Tylor, Prof. E. B., 109, 129, 223

  Ueberlingen See, 95
  Uhle, Dr. M., 28, 167;
    on plant motives, 131
  Uluris dress pattern, 174

  Vaux, Baron de, 99
  Veth, R. J., on mandrake, 6
  Volute, 157, 158, 160
  Votive offerings, degeneration of, 222, 223

  Wallace, A. R., 319
  Walrus symbol, 194
  Water symbol, 122
  Wattle-work, 92;
    huts, 89
  Wealth, definition of, 4;
    in art, 222
  Whirlwind symbolism, 122, 123
  Wife, value of a, 224, 225, 229
  Wilkinson, Sir J. G., lotus, 134
  Williams, Monier, 282
  Wilson, Dr. D., on British urns, 108
  Wind symbol, 123, 279
  Winged globe, 298
  Wire spirals, 94
  Withy patterns, 94, 194-199
  Wolf in art, 195
  Women’s dress pattern, 97, 174, 178
  Wood, J. G., on tongue-thrusting, 187
  Wooden slabs, carved, Daumori, 26;
    Papuan Gulf, 31
  Woodlark, Group, art of, 58;
    trade of, 47;
    spatulas of, 54
  Worm-knot, Scandinavian, 94
  Writing, evolution of, 216-221;
    reversed, 125

  Yule Island, 42

  Zigzag, 14, 54, 276, 309;
    from alligator, 171;
    Australian, 258, 259;
    origin of, 88, 89;
    in Ancient Egypt, 89;
    Brazil, 174-178;
    frogs’ legs as, 244, 248
  Zoomorphs, 164-183;
    in mythology 182;
    horse, 180;
    wolf, 195
  Zuñi medicine bowl, 121;
    pottery, 103, 104, 128

Transcriber’s note

Text in italics has been surrounded with _underscores_, bold with
=signs=, and underlined with ~signs~. Small capitals have been replaced
with all capitals. The table on page 8 has been rotated for better
readability. The table on page 299 was entirely in italics in the
original, this has been removed. An extra title has been removed.
The footnotes were renumbered and placed after the paragraph they
referred to.

Errors in punctuation and spacing have been corrected silently. Also
the following corrections were made, on page

   58 “tha” changed to “that” (to differ in many respects from that
      which is characteristic)
   63 “Havn” changed to “Haven” (from Angriffs Haven, near Humboldt
  179 “XI” changed to “VI” (the Dunnichen Stone (Plate VI., Fig. 9);
      but the head)
  and in footnote 160 “_tindados_” changed to “_tindalos_” (and the
      birds are vehicles of _tindalos_.)

Otherwise the original has been preserved, including unusual spelling
and inconsistent hyphenation. Additional: some footnotes have more
than one anchor. The index has not been checked for errors in
alphabetization or page numbers.

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