Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/54

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44
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
DRESS AND ADORNMENT.

III. ORNAMENT.

By Prof. FREDERICK STARR.

THE savage loves finery. Anything bright and showy has for him remarkable attractiveness. Traders have often been blamed for their unequal trades with unsophisticated savages whereby they get a large return for articles of little value. Yet it must be admitted that often they could do little else. Truly useful and desirable articles are often passed by, and tawdry ornaments, beads, and tinsel are sought with avidity. The writer himself has frequently found, if cash payment is offered, that Indians demand preposterous prices for objects of ethnological interest; a few handfuls of beads or some yards of bright ribbon will bring about a quick and mutually satisfactory bargain. Early travelers found no people on some of the islands of the Pacific who would give anything for new kinds of fowls, domestic animals, or useful devices, but "a few red feathers would buy the

PSM V40 D054 American indian with necklace of claws.jpg
Fig. 1. — American Indian with Necklace of Claws.

whole island." "Necessity is always secondary to luxury" is a remark that will bear frequent quotation. Ornament is universal. The barbarian will go naked, unprotected, hungry, but he will have his ornaments.

The beginnings of ornament lie far back in antiquity, but they may also be seen in savage life of to-day. The incentive that develops it is personal vanity — the desire for self-individualization. A man wishes to mark himself off from his neighbor by some external sign. If he kills a savage beast, what is more natural than that he should use its skin, its teeth, its claws, as a trophy? Wearing these, he is known as a mighty or successful hunter. Possibly the oldest decoration we know is a necklace from Duruthy Cavern, in France. Under a stone, apparently