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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/359

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ÆESTHETIC EVOLUTION IN MAN.

natural defects, by borrowed plumes. So the earliest evidence of derivative æsthetic feeling which we possess is that of the personal ornaments worn by palæolithic men. Perforated shells, apparently used for necklaces; teeth of deer and other animals; pebbles of rose-quartz and other ornamental stones; wrought pieces of bone or mammoth ivory—all of them obviously intended for personal decoration—are found in the earliest cave-dwellings and rock-shelters. Feathers and flowers we can not of course expect to find in such situations; but we can hardly doubt, from the analogy of almost all modern savages, that palæolithic men must have used them as much as they used those other decorative objects. Now, the fact that any such shells or plumes are sought as ornaments proves of course that they were first admired; but the vague admiration originally bestowed upon them would naturally be much quickened and increased by their employment for the decoration of the person. From being vague and indefinite it would become vivid and purposive. Our own children and modern savages take comparatively little interest in flowers in the abstract, flowers as they grow upon the bush or in the field: but they begin to admire them when they pick them by handfuls, and still more when they are woven into a wreath, arranged in a bouquet, or stuck into the hair. Nay, is not this ultimate decorative intent one of the chief raisons d'être for many of our European conservatories and florists' shops? Is not a camellia largely admired because it looks so well in a ball-dress, and a stephanotis because it fits so easily in a button-hole? And is it not a fact that many of our ladies and most of our seyants admire artificial flowers, with all their stiffness and vulgarity, far more genuinely than they admire living roses or lilies-of-the-valley? We have all known women whose most real æsthetic feelings were obviously aroused by a bonnet or a head-dress.

Flowers are very favorite decorations with the South-Sea Islanders, and those who have read Miss Bird's and Mrs. Brassey's pleasant accounts of their stay among the Polynesians must have noticed the air of refinement, the vague æsthetic atmosphere thrown over the whole story by their profuse employment of tropical blossoms upon all occasions. Feathers, symmetrically arranged, were the ordinary head-dress of the North American Indians; and they were woven into splendid cloaks by the Hawaiians. Corals, pebbles, precious stones, gold and silver jewelry, cowries, wampum beads, furs, silks, and so forth, follow in due order. Ochre and woad, for dyeing or staining the body, are employed from a very early period. Henna, indigo, and other cosmetics come a little later. Among many existing lowest races, the only sign of æsthetic feeling, beyond the sense of personal beauty and the very rudest songs or dances, is shown in the employment of dyes or ornaments for the person. Such are many of the Indian Hill tribes, the Andamanese, the Digger Indians of California, and the Botocudos of Brazil. The Bushmen, and to a less extent the Australians, gen-