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Primitive Wood Crafts & Carving

After the formation of ornament by stamping and weaving, would naturally follow the desire of forming ornament in relief or carving. The weapons for defence or the chase would first attract attention. The most skilful and the bravest would desire to be, distinguished from their fellows by the possession of weapons, not only more useful, but more beautiful. The shape best fitted for the purpose having been found by experience, the enriching of the surface by carving would naturally follow; and the eye, already accustomed to the geometrical forms produced by weaving, the hand would seek to imitate them by a similar repetition of cuts of the knife.

Head of Canoe, New Guinea
Head of Canoe, New Guinea.

The ornaments on Plate II. show this instinct very fully. They are executed with the utmost precision, and exhibit great taste and judgment in the distribution of the masses. Nos. 11 and 12 are interesting, as showing how much this taste and skill may exist in the formation of geometrical patterns, whilst those resulting from curved lines, and the human form more especially, remain in the very first stage.

Primitive Carving
Plate II

The ornaments in the woodcuts above and below show a far higher advance in the distribution of curved lines, the twisted rope forming the type as it naturally would be of all curved lines in ornament. The uniting of two strands for additional strength would early accustom the eye to the spiral line, and we always find this form side by side with geometrical patterns formed by the interlacing of equal lines in the ornament of every savage tribe, and retained in the more advanced art of every civilised nation.

Head of Canoe, New Guinea
Head of Canoe, New Guinea.

From the Side of a Canoe, New Zealand
From the Side of a Canoe, New Zealand.

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