Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/149

This page has been validated.

distinguishing between the principal colors. Taking red, yellow, green, and blue, as the chief representatives of the colors of the longer and shorter wave-lengths, there was not one among the tribes coming within the range of the inquiry which did not show some knowledge of these four colors. This knowledge must be considered as only relative, and not as existing in the same degree among all tribes. Savages exhibit important differences in the degree to which their sense of color is capable of cultivation. Some show considerable skill in distinguishing between different mixed and transitional colors, others are less keen to perceive transitional colors, while there are some who are slow in marking the most distinct principal colors without being wholly incapable of it. This dullness is shown chiefly in reference to the colors of the shorter wave-lengths, as green, and more especially blue. There are tribes which have surprisingly little knowledge of these colors; among them are some of the aboriginal tribes of southern India, whose color-sense is developed only to the perception of red, while their knowledge of yellow and green and blue is most limited and rudimentary. The inhabitants of the island of Nias have one name for blue, violet, black, and green, another for yellow and orange. Numerous observations are cited to prove that the capacity to discriminate between the colors of the longer wave-lengths is sharper than that relative to those of shorter wave-lengths. An English consul in the Loyalty Islands informs Dr. Magnus that the inhabitants of that group understand the differences between colors very well, but confound them in naming them. The negro tribes of Sierra Leone, distinguish between the several colors, and have words to indicate them. Gray and orange are least regarded, and are spoken of as white and red. Blue and green are frequently confounded, but are seldom mentioned as identical. The pastoral Ovahereros, or Damaras, of South Africa, are keen in their appreciation of the shades of color that are marked on their cattle, and have names for all of them, twenty-six terms in all, but have no names for the colors that are not cattle-colors, although they know them apart quite clearly, and will use foreign words in speaking of them if it is necessary. Sometimes, for lack of a better word, they will use their own word for yellow, for blue, or green, but with a clear sense that they are applying it inaccurately. Most of the Damaras have come into some contact with civilization, but no important difference in the capacity to distinguish colors can be found between the civilized and the uncivilized members of the race. The uncivilized, however, although they know them well enough, can not give names to blue and green, and think it strange that these colors should need names. A tribe on the Gold Coast are well acquainted with the difference between red, yellow, green, and blue, but are wholly destitute of terms for the colors of the medium and shorter wave-lengths, and seem to have names only for white, black, and red. Virchow found similar conditions to exist among the Nubians, who were lately in Berlin, and a similar indifference to the colors of the middle and shorter wave-lengths to prevail among them. Most of them were accurate in perceiving and naming the four higher colors of the scale, and black, white, gray, and red, but recognized the other colors with some difficulty. Professor Delitzsch has remarked that the people of the ancient Semitic races had little appreciation of blue. This dullness in distinguishing the colors of the shorter wave-length contrasts strikingly with the sharpness which people of all races display in distinguishing and marking red.


Slaughter of Food-Animals among the Jews.—According to the analysis of Dr. Rabbinonicz, of Paris, the Jewish Talmudic rules concerning the slaughter of food animals were framed with the special object of providing for the infliction of the least possible suffering upon the animal, and of procuring the meat in the most wholesome condition for food. They prohibit the stunning of the animal by a blow on the forehead, because it is far from certain that the blow immediately annuls pain, and it is certain that it does not annul it if inflicted by an awkward hand. The rules require that the act of killing shall be performed by the sweep of a long, sharp instrument, which shall at once sever, more or less completely, the trachea and œsoph-