dressed as a Chinese, is not to be distinguished from them, and Peschel classifies the Malays with the Mongoloid people. In these approximate regions one might expect close intermixtures. If resemblances are established between the Japanese and the Eskimo, they would probably have arisen from a circumpolar race which has left its traces on northern peoples the world around. We turn naturally to Japan as the region from which a migration might reasonably have been supposed to take place. Its position on the Asiatic coast with a series of larger and smaller stepping-stones—the Kuriles—to Kamchatka, and thence across the strait to America and seaward, the broad and powerful Japanese current sweeping by its coast and across the Pacific, arrested only by the northwestern coast of America. With these various avenues of approach one might certainly expect evidences of contact in past times. A somewhat extended study in Japan of its prehistoric and early historic remains in the way of shell-heap pottery from the north to the south, much of it of an exceedingly curious character; the later stone implements, many of them of the most extraordinary types; the bronze mirrors, swords, spear points, and the so-called bronze bells; the wide distribution of a curious comma-shaped ornament of stone known as the magatama, with a number of varieties, and many other kinds of objects, leads me to say that no counterpart or even remote parallelism has been found in the western hemisphere. Certain rude forms of decoration of the northern shell-heap pottery of Japan, such as the cord-mark and crenulated fillet, are world-wide in their distribution, and a similar wide dispersal is seen of the rude stone implements and notched and barbed bone and horn. Here, however, the similarity ends. The lathe-turned unglazed mortuary vessels so common in ancient graves in Japan and Korea have equally no counterpart on our western coast. If now we examine the early records of Japan in her two famous works—the Kojiki and Nikon ji, which contain rituals, ceremonies, and historical data going back with considerable accuracy to the third and fourth centuries of our era—we shall find many curious details of customs and arts and references to objects which have since been exhumed from burial mounds, yet we look in vain for a similar cult in Mexico or Central America. Turning aside from Japan as an impossible ground in which to trace resemblances, we glance at the unique character of the ancient pottery of Central America, with its representations of natural forms, such as fishes, turtles, frogs, shells, etc., its peculiar motives of decoration in color, and find no counterpart in Asia. The pyramidal rock structure and rounded burial mounds are supposed to have their counterparts in the East, but the pyramidal form is common in various parts of the world, simply because it is the most economical
Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/13
This page has been validated.
WAS MIDDLE AMERICA PEOPLED FROM ASIA?