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same district. We maintain that the same difference will appear
in the relics that have been noticed in the so-called architectural
works. Mr. Holder says, " the great complicated earth works of
the mound builders, so faithfully examined and reported by the
old explorers, furnish the most important evidence of their su-
periority to their successors. It is true the Southern Indians
built mounds^ but does any one seriously compare the works of
Natchez and the Muskoki tribes with those of the mound builders?
The Iroquois made stockades and enclosures, and Mr. Morgan
argued thence, that the works in Ohio were precisely similar in
function ; but this opinion can not stand."



Fig. 14.

We present ' here a cut (sec Fig. 14,) to show the difference
in one particular line of sculpture, that of pipes. One of th^m
has the mound builders' shape ; the bowl in the centre, the stem
at one end and the ornamented part at the other. Another pipe
made from clay is seen in ■ the collection, but it is uncertain



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HUMANE FACES IN ABORIGINAL' ART. 145

whether it is a^ mound builder's pipe or that of a modern Indian.
The form is peculiar. It has a flaring mouth piece as well as a
bowl ; it looks as if it was intended to blow through^ rather than
tosmoke in the usual way. The rough appearance of it would
indicate that it was* Modem Indian/ and yet according to Squier
and Davis several such pipes have been found in the mounds.

On this point we quote from Mr. E. A. Barber. He says that a
century or so-ago, native American pij^s.had lost most of their
tribal characteristics, and were n\ad6 of every available material
and in a countless variety of fornjfe to^iswitthe fancy-of the indi-
vidual smokers. It is a singula!- fact-t^kt earthem ware pipes
were not made until a comparatively decent period, though cer-
tain tribes, such as the Iroquois, of New York, and' Lenni Len-
apes, of Delaware, moulded their pipes of clay at the time of the
discovery. * . ' '

The material of which a pipe is made cannot be taken as an in-
dication as to its age. Wooden cases which contain mummies
have been exhumed from the tombs in Egypt bearing the date
of 2,000 years B. C. and if this is the case we may conclude
that wood might be preserved for a long time, though in the
mounds it would be much more likely to decay than in the tombs
of Egypt. The locality is, perhaps, a better test than the mate-
rial. The pipes which are found in the northwest coast are prob-
ably not the work of mound builders. Those found in the State
of New York are certainly not all ancient. Still the locality is
not always a sure criterion. The pipes which are found in the
mound builders' habitat, must be studied with some other point
in view. The depth at which a relic is found is not always the
test. There are relics which have been exhumed from mines
which may be very ancient or quite modern; there is no cer-
tainty as to who deposited them. The finish of a carved speci-
men is a better test and yet this is very uncertain. There
seems to be a great variety of opinion on the question whether
the ancient races were better sculptors than the modern. The
test which we apply with the
most certainty is that which is
furnished by the human like-
nesses. There are many spec-
imens of carving which con-
tain so undoubted likenesses
of European faces that we are
at no loss in saying that they
are the work of modern In- 1
dians; at least that they are i
post-Columbian in their origin.

We present here a series of p. ^

cuts which contain likenesses.
One of them (fig. 15) represents pipes from the State of New



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146 THE AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN.

York; the other (fig. 16) from Lake Superior. These cuts have
httn described by Mr. E. A. Barber. Of the last he says, "the
Chippewa Indians in the Lake Superior region cut characteris-
tic pipes Irom a dark colored pipe-stone which they find in the
neighborhood. An old Indian who is known by the name of
Fwahquneka, is said to be one of the most noted artisans in

that section; a'*"'

his productic
are genera
convention
ized by the
Production o
rowofminiati
men or anim
carved on 1
upper surf;
of the ste
socket or pi
form. An <
ample of reo
Chippewa p

sculpture has Fig. 16.

been introduced in the group of old Indian stone-pipes, here fig-
ured, which will give a general idea of the majority of examples
produced by this tribe. In this specimen, the artist has evidently
intended to convey the idea of a boat — ^two figures being repre-
sented in the attitude of rowing, whilst a third is steering at
the helm. The bowl of the pipe represents the head of a Cau-
casian with short hair and stubby mustache."

"Indian pipe-makers have recently displayed much ingenuity
.in copying objects of European introduction, such as steel
4:omahawks and spear points, stove pipe hats, horses' heads and
the like; and an extraordinary example found in Missouri, which
may be seen in the illustrations to which illusion has just been
made, is fashioned in the shape of an inverted glass bottle-stop-
per, ornamented with etchings of hearts and crosses."

The point to which we desire to call attention is the fact that
the modern Indians were able to carve out such excellent like-
nesses and that they have exercised so much skill in imitating
the European methods of sculpture. There are likenesses in
both these cuts of European faces. There are also imitations
of European pipes and in one case, the imitation of the Euro-
pean method of carving human figures throughout in the round.
The sunken panel in one pipe is also an imitation of European
sculpture. This skill in imitating known forms leads us to be-
lieve that they were equally skillful in depicting the faces and
forms which are to us unknown. We take, then, the native
faces which are found in these cuts as likenesses and conclude



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HUMAN FACES IN ABORIGINAL ART. 147

that they portray the features of the aborigines as they were
known, and made them likenesses. Whether the artists who
dwelt on the continent before the advent of the white man
were equally successful, is a question. Judging, however, from
the fact that the skill of the early races was, according to all
accounts, quite equal to that of the modem, we conclude that the
faces which we discover on the pipes are likenesses, and that
they bring before us the features of the people who are to us
unknown. This is the argument which we use in connection
with the carved faces. We maintain that they are portraits.
!^In reference to the pipes of the Indians, Squier and Davis say
"the sculpture of articles which is sometimes attempted by them
in imitation of the human figure is often tasteful, but they never
display the nice observation and true artistic appreciation and
skill exhibited by those of the mounds, notwithstanding their mak-
ers have all the advantages resulting from steel implements for
carving, and from the suggestions afforded by European art."

III. We turn now to the third head and ask the question
whether the sculptured faces are genuine portraits. This is an
important point for if it is true that we have the actual features of
the prehistoric race preserved, we shall by the means be able to
determine the different migrating lines and ethnic affinities of the
races and perhaps solve other problems. One singular fact is
brought before us by the specimens of art, the faces differ very
much. This would indicate that the American races were not
all exactly alike. There may have been perhaps a general affin-
ity and all may have belonged to the same stock, but judgmg
from the likenesses we should say that there were different races
as well as tribes. The dividing lines are, however, geographical
rather than^chronological. The contrasts between the faces are
seen, mainly, as we travel from one district to another; rather than
as we gather relics from the same district. Where there has
been a chronological succession of the different branches of the
same race, we find it somewhat difficult to draw the lines between
the portraits carved on the prehistoric relics ; but where races are
widely separated and are acknowledged to be different in their
origin and characteristics, we find the contrasts between the por-
traits very marked. The relics confirm tradition ; Archaeology
and Ethnology correspond, and parallel lines of study are in har-
mony. If we take the relics which are gathered from the Missi-
sippi valley, we may trace a general resemblance between
the features of the Modern Indians and those of the Mound
Builders ; and will come to the conclusion that here there has
been a succession of races and that all belong to the same gener-
al race or stock and are closely related. But if, on the other hand,
we examine the relics and monuments of the different parts of
Central America especially in Yucatan, we find the faces por-
trayed on them differing very essentially from these and we con-



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148 ' THE AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN. -

elude that they are the portraits of an entirely distinct race, the
Mayas and the Mound Builders having had scarcely any affinity.

Again, if we examine the relics and* sculpture ■ of the regions
formerly occupied by the Aztecs and Toltecs and we shall find a
very great resemblance between the features of these different
races as they are portrayed upon the monuments. But if we pass
from Mexico and its provinces into. Central America where the
different parts of the Maya race are, we. find that the contrast is
as great as that between the- Mound- Builders and this people ;
and the difference between the Nahuas and Mayas is plainly
brought out.

We now propose to- illustrate this point. We shall first pre-
sent portraits from the region of the Mound- Builders and call at-
tention to their characteristics. We shall next furnish portraits
of the Mayas and refer to the features which are everywhere seen.
We shall, in the third place bring together a few portraits from
the scattered provinces where the Aztecs and Toltecs were known
to have dwelt and call attention to the characteristics of this once
powerful race. We think that our readers will be led to the con-
clusion that the sculptures furnish the portraits of three distiact
races^. The monuments and the traditions correspond. The
portraits confirm the history. If the sculptured faces are portraits
we must consider them as good tests for determining their affini-
ties. We propose to make the inquiry and put the sculptured
relics under scrutiny with the view of ascertaining whether there
were not three distinct races on the continent.

I, We shall enquire about the Mound Builders and put the
relics furnished by this people to the test.

We select specimens from one particular district of the Mound
Builders, namely that of Ohio, as more portraits have been found
in this region than any other; and yet we believe that if our
readers would compare these portraits with those which may be
gathered from the other parts of the Mississippi valley they will
find a general resemblance. The peculiarity of these portraits is
that they all have an Indian look about them. They differ from
one another and yet this is the characteristic of all.

The portraits from the mounds, to be sure, have more marked
characteristics and indicate that the people who built the mounds
were in many respects superior to those Indians which have until
recently occupied the same territory. Still, we acknowledge
that they all had the same ethnic peculiarities, and if they differ
from one another, yet they must have belonged to the same great
race.

We present a series of cuts to illustrate this point. These
were originally taken from the great work on mounds, Ancient
Monuments. It will be noticed that the same general cast of
features are given by these portraits; and yet if our readers will
examine the cuts which are found in the same work and which



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IJUMAN FACES IN ABORIGINAL ART. 149

reprcs2nt pipes taken from the same mounds, they will find a
great variety in them. Our explanation of this is that there were
different tribes amonp^ the Mound Builders and that the portraits
present to us the tribal features. In reference to the portraits
which are here furnished we shall quote the words of Squier &
Davis; they say: *'* few sculptures of the human head have been
found in the mounds, though several have been discovered under
such circumstances as to leave little doubt that they belong to the
mound era. Four specimens were taken from the remarkable
Altar mound in Mound City. These heads are valuable as being
the only ones taken from the mounds, the ancient date of which
is clearly established. In the same mound in which they were
found, it has already been observed, were also found upwards of
a hundred miniature sculptures of animals, most of which are in-
digenous. The fidelity to nature observed in the latter fully war-
rant us in believing that the sculptures ot the human heads dis-
covered with them are also faithful copies from nature and truly
display not only the characteristic features but also their method
of wearing the hair and the style of their head dress, the charac-
ter and mode of adjustment of a portion of their ornaments. * *
The markings'upon the faces of two of the sculptures may be taken
as representing paint lines or some description of tattooing. We
know that among the North American tribes the custom of paint-
ing the face with every variety of color and ornamenting it with
fantastic figures, was wide-spread and common. The singular

head dresses observed in these figures
have a little resemblance to those of
the Indians so far as we know any-
thing of them." * * ** In respect to
the physiological characteristics exhib-
ited by these figures, it need only be
observed that they do not differ essen-
tially from those of the great Ameri-
can family, the type of which seems to
have been radically the same through
the extent of the continent, excluding
perhaps, a few of the tribes at the ex-
tremes." The following is the descrip-
tion of these faces . Fig. 17 is ** com-
posed of a hard, compact, black stone
and is distinguished from the others
by the hardness and severity of its out-
line. It has a singular head dress fall-
ing in a broad fold over the back of
the head as far down as the middle
rig. ,7. of the neck. Upon each, side of the

top of the head, this head dress, which may represent sorrie

♦Ancient MorumenU, page —



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150 THE AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN.

particular style of platting the hair, rises into protuberances or
knots (horns). Encircling the forehead and coming down as low
as the ears is a row of round holes, fifteen in number, which
when the head was found, were filled in part with pearls com-
pletely calcined; the holes were doubtless all originally filled in
the same manner." The string of pearls and the head dress shows
that the Mound Builders had great taste in ornamenting the head,
and that the sense of beauty was well developed in them.

Of the next figure, (Fig. 18) the authors say, *' this is the most
beautiful head of the series, and is evidently that of a female. It
is carved from a com-
pact stone which is
much altered and in
some cases the color
entirely changed by the
action of fire. The
muscles of the face are
well exhibited and the
forehead finely mould-
ed. The eyes are prom-
inent and open and the
lips full and rounded."
* * "The workman-
ship of this head is un-
surpassed by any spec- ^
imens of Ancient Amer- ^'k- »8.
ican Art which has fallen under the notice of the authors, not
excepting the best productions of Mexico and Peru."

It should be said of the four pipes which were taken from this



Fig. 19.

altar, each one presents a different face ; in fact so different that
we can hardly recognize the tribal features in them. Fig. 19
is composed of a compost yellow sand stone. Its features are



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HUMAN FACES IN ABORIGINAL ART. 161

more regular than either of the preceding examples. The* nose
turns up slightly at the point and the lips are prominent. It has
been suggested from the delicacy of the features that this was
designed to represent a female, and at least three types are rep-
resented in them. This is singular, for all were found in the
same mound. It proves however that the Mound Builders were
divided into tribes, and that these tribes were frequently associ-
ated together very much as the ludians of the later tribes. In
fact some have said that these particular mounds were built by
the Indians and it is a question whether they do not represent
those very same tribes which are known to history.

In reference to this question of portraits we are not confined
to the pipes of Mound Builders, or of the later Indians. There
are many specimens of art found in other parts of America which
present human faces and to these we would call attention as well
worthy of study.

2. We then turn by way of contrast, to the Maya portraits.
These are taken from Stephens* work on the Antiquities of
Yucatan and Central America." They represent the figures

which are contained in
the bas-relief at Palen-
que. It should be said
that all of the statues and
bas-reliefs at this place
furnish the same cast of
countenance, the promi-
nent nose and retreating
forehead being charac-
teristic of all. There are
many portraits in these
tablets and all of them
are of the same type.
Stephens has furnished
eighteen plates, illustrat-
ing the different figures
which he discovered in
the palaces at Palenque,
and in the plates there
are at least twenty-eight
different figures, all of
them having the same
' forehead, nose and lips,
as those which are here
b presented (Figs. 20 & 2 1 .)
He has also described the
^*«- ^' stone columns or idol

pillars which he 'discovered at Copan. These have figures
and faces which differ very materially from those at Palenque.



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152 THE AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN.

The explanation of this is not given. In reference to the portraits
at Copan, at Chichen Itza and at Palenque a variety of opinion
has been expressed. Waldeck sees in some of the fig-
ures features of the Caucasian type. Bancroft, on the
other hand, has discovered an Ethiopian head at Vera
Cruz and quotes from Senor Melzar who supposes that the



Fig. 21,

Negro race lived in America before the coming of the Span-
iards. A portrait is also presented by Bancroft from Waldeck's
drawings which has the Anglo Saxon cast. This was found at
Copan, and is very striking in its appearance. The Egyptian type
has also been recognized in the monuments. It would iieem,
then, that there was considerable confusion in the minds of the
different authors as to what race these portraits belong. The
opinion of Stephens is, however, the most correct; he says,"I invite
to this subject the special attention of those familiar with the arts
of other countries ; for unless I am wrong we have a conclu.sion
far more interesting and wonderful than that of connecting the
builders of these cities with the Egyptians or any other people.
It is the spectacle of a people skilled in architecture, sculpture
and drawing, and possessing the cultivation and refinement at-
tendant upon these, but originating and growing up here without
models or masters; having a distinct separate, independent cxist-
ance, like the plants and fruits of the soil, indigenous.*' " There is
no resemblance in these remains to those of the Egyptians, and
failing here we look elsewhere in vain." In reference to the faces
found at Palenque and presented in the cut, (Fig. 21), Stephens
says : " the upper part of the head seems to have been compressed
and lengthened perhaps by the same process employed upon the



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HUMAN FACES IN ABORIGINAL A3,T. 163

heads of the Choctaw and Flathead Indians of our own country.
The head represents a different species from any now existing in
that country and supposing the statues to be images of living
personages or the creation of artists according to their ideas of
perfect figures, they indicate a race of people now lost and un-
known." In speaking of the portraits which are presented in the
following cut, (Fig. 20), he says: they are adorned with rich head
dresses, and necklaces, buttheir attitude is that of pain and trou-
ble. The design and anatomical proportions of the figure are
faulty, but there is a force of expression about them which shows



Fig. 22.

the skill and conceptive power of the artist. In reference to the
point whether these are representatives of the Maya race, we
have to say : that they are found on the territory where the Ma-
yas had their habitat and seem to have been designed to repre-
sent the race features. There are, however, several objections to
this view; first, faces are, as we have seen, found in the same re-
gion which are entirely different and these maybe portraits of the
Mayas rather than those found on the tablets. These faces are
engraved upon idols, moulded into pottery, sometimes painted on
the ancient manuscripts and contained in the architectural monu-



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154 THE AMERICAN ANTIQUARIAN.

ments, and perhaps are as likely to be portraits as those which
we have described. Again, the faces which are figured in bas-re-
hef are mainly found in the temples and may have been intended
not so much as portraits as symbols; the attitudes of the divini-
ties bemg symbolized by them. Again the faces are in profile
and are conventional in their character, and generally have simi-
lar head dresses and ornamentations. Another objection is that the
carved columns found at Copan furnish a very dififerent type from
these in bas-relief, and the columns are quite as likely to have been
designed as portraits as the tablets. The statues at Palenque
have the full face resembhng those at Copan, while the hiero-
glyphics have profiles resembling those in the tablets. There
seem to be many objections to the position taken that the Maya
type is to be recognized in these faces which have such retreat-
ing foreheads. Yet, the fact that they are so numerous would
indicate that there was a class of people among Mayas which
were characterized by this trait. It may be that portraits are de-
signed to represent cither the priests or the ruling class ; and that
artificial depression was practiced among them. Perhaps, then, we
have an explanation of the difference between the different faces,
the carved columns co.itaining the portraits of the Mayas in their
normal condition ; but the tablets contain the portraits of the
deformed ruling or priestly cast. It may be that on this very ter-
ritory of the Mayas we have two distinct races, the one portrayed
by the carved columns and the other by the tablets. Which was
the earlier and which the latter must remain undecided.



Fig. 23.

3. We next turn to the Aztecs. It is a remarkable fact that
in Mexico, the home of the Aztecs, we have many human faces



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HUMAN FACES IN ABORIGINAL ART. 155

but they nearly all difler from those found among the Mayas. These
are found on the sacrificial stones and on the altars and seem to have
a sacred character somewhat resembling those found on the tab-
lets at Palenque. They are generally in profile and have head
dresses and ornaments which are evidently intended to be sym-
bolic. Th'j com|3arisoii of the faces with those before given will
convince us that the sculptors copied after a different type
and the query is whether the one does not represent the Nahuas
• and the other the Mayas. We furnish a cut (Fig. 23), to illus-
trate this point. It represents sculptured figures on the sacrifi-
cial stone at Mexico. Of this, Mr. Bancroft says, "the whole cir-
cumference of the stone is covered with sculptured figures con-
sisting of fifteen groups; each group contains two human figures,
apparently warriors or kings ; victor and vanquished differing but
little in their hieroglyphic bigns which may express their names or
those of their natio;is.'* According to Gama, these sculptured
figures represent by the thirty dances, the festivities celebrated
twice each year, and also commemorate the battles and victories
of the Aztecs; the hieroglyphics being the names of conquered
provinces." There are images and idols in Mexico which pre-
sent the faces with a front view ; these differ from the faces in pro-
file, and they have a character somewhat similar. We nowhere



Online LibraryStephen Denison PeetThe American antiquarian and oriental journal → online text (page 19 of 49)