Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/769

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THE FESTAL DEVELOPMENT OF ART.

solar god were ascribed the Selenii, deities of the woodlands, and to the moon-goddess the Naiads of the flowing streams. And there appear also satyrs, those happy genii whom the sculptor had delighted to picture as the souls of the forest, unwitting of sorrow; of these human-eyed creatures the artist often chose representation in mask, with open look and parted lips, common feature of Hellenic sculpture—an expression of unchecked animal sweetness, no muscle drawn or compressed, and with all the unalarming hint of furry ears and budding horns!"

Painting, except as pigments were applied to faces, masks, and architectural adornments, had a relatively small place in the primitive festivals, as indeed it had in all ancient as compared with modern art. The whole theory of perspective was unknown, without which painting limps and halts. Still, we may see how it could contribute to the festival at a very early stage by the practice of the Sioux in their mimetic elk dance. When the sacred animal appears to a brave in a dream, a tent is placed with an opening to the east, and decorated at the top with four bands of blue, while across the entrance the figure of an elk is delineated with red paint, so arranged that the visitors shall pass through its body. Here is a crude contribution of painting to a very primitive festival. Of course, the evidence concerning the extent to which painting entered into the early festal performances can be only indirect. But it is important to note that the art of writing is derived from that of drawing, and that all the earliest forms of written language are pictographic. And they were also the special possession of the priests who had charge of the religious festival. It is more than probable that writing originated from the attempt to produce a series of pictures of early festivals, either religious or triumphal, or both—for victory was always celebrated with religious rites. Beginning thus as a series of rude imitative drawings, writing passed into more and more symbolic stages, among the Egyptians traversing the clearly marked phases of hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic writing, supplying the Phœnicians with the alphabet, whose crude characters were transported to Greece, and these—considerably modified—to Rome, whence we derive those letters with which we print our books and newspapers. Very early, then, was drawing known as a fine art, although imperfectly developed. Color was used on the earliest statuary. The independent statue, fashioned either in stone or wood, appears in the oldest Egypt, and has about it a good deal of that crude realism which marks the infancy of representative art. The flesh is colored up to correspond with Nature, the flesh of women being tinted a lighter hue than that of men; the eyes are represented often by some special material; the drapery is painted. The earliest statues of the gods of Greece were