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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE POSE OF THE BODY AS RELATED TO THE TYPE OF THE CRANIUM AND THE DIRECTION OF THE VISUAL PLANE.[1]
By GEORGE T. STEVENS, M.D.. Ph.D.

NEW YORK.

IT is a novel proposition that the position of the head in respect to the body or of the shoulders in reference to the back, that the carriage of the whole body in walking and the attitude of a person in conversation, should be governed in an important measure by the form of the cranium. It will also, doubtless, be regarded as a bold assertion to say that all these positions and attitudes and even the gait of individuals are largely modified, even in many instances controlled, by the normal position of the eyes in respect to the cranium. Yet it is not difficult to show that both these propositions are true and that the truth contained in these statements is not only of importance as a principle in art, but that it is of great practical value from the point of view of the well-being of large classes of persons.

From the standpoint of art the principle involved in these propositions shows the error of representing individuals who have certain forms of crania in attitudes which, for persons with those special cranial characteristics, would be unnatural and almost absurd. For example, when Thorwaldsen represented Sir Walter Scott with his chin elevated high in the air, he gave to the distinguished author of Waverley a posture of the head which would have been not only painful, but almost impossible for him to have maintained as a characteristic pose.

From the more practical and more important standpoint it may even be said that, owing to the position of the visual plane in respect to the head, there may be comparative immunity from certain complaints and diseases or a comparative predisposition to those very affections according to the type of the head and the direction of the normal plane of vision.

In order to facilitate the examination of the topic, it will be necessary to define some of the terms and some of the principles-which enter into it.

The term 'normal plane of vision' will be used, and it should at the outset be understood exactly what is meant by the phrase.


  1. An address delivered before the Section of Anthropology of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, at its session at Yale University, New Haven, December 27th, 1899.