The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Ethnology

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Edition of 1920. See also Ethnology on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer. "RACES OF MANKIND" color illustration and caption is currently missing.

ETHNOLOGY, that branch of the science of anthropology which treats of the races of mankind and seeks to explain their origin and development.

Anthropology is the science which treats of man in relation to himself, to other men and to all nature. It is subdivided into several branches, each of which treats of some special phase of man's natural history. There is a difference in the meaning given by students to the names employed to designate the divisions of the study of man. Ethnology, ethnography, and anthropology have been to some extent interchangeable terms. Each of these branches of knowledge has a special meaning given it in different countries. However, there is becoming a more general acceptance of a definite meaning for these topics. The comprehensive term anthropology is recognized in its general sense to include all others (Keane, Tylor, Mason). The meaning herein given to Ethnology is widely recognized (Keene, Brinton). The use of the term anthropology, to designate societies for the study of man and for sections in national scientific bodies on both sides of the Atlantic, indicates a general tendency to accept the proper meaning of the word.

Ethnology differs from ethnography, which deals chiefly with the collection of facts regarding the families, tribes and races of mankind, in seeking to explain the significance of the information obtained. Ethnography (from a people, to write) is a writing about, a description of, peoples. Ethnology (from , a people, a discourse), attempts to interpret the facts gathered, to explain the causes for the conditions and the relationships of different peoples. Ethnography and ethnology occupy a relation to each other somewhat akin to that of geography and geology. One deals chiefly with existing facts, the other attempts to interpret the history which brought them forth.

Broca says ethnography studies peoples, ethnology races. The following seems a convenient scheme for grouping the branches of anthropology. Substantially it is as follows: Archæology, Biology, Psychology, Ethnology, Ethnography, Philology, Technology, Sociology and Religion (Mason).

The unity of the race is now generally accepted. From the researches of the physiologist, the anatomist, the philologist and the psychologist we obtain the same testimony as to the specific unity of our race. The place of origin or centre of dispersal is not fixed. From the studies of eminent specialists, it would seem that the land about the shores of the Mediterranean, or the region farther eastward toward India, may claim to be the home of primitive man. About the Mediterranean they settled down like frogs about a pond (Plato).

Classification. — For classification, mankind is divided into groups. On account of their distribution, these are sometimes named for geographical divisions. They are also distinguished as families, clans, tribes, nations, peoples and races. In the naming of the latter, family relationships form a prominent factor. It is with both of these lines of classification and the distribution of those discussed under them that ethnology has to do. In these efforts at classification, different schemes have been tried. It is generally accepted that there are two groups of elements of characterization, which are sometimes called criteria. These are physical elements and psychical elements.

The principal physical elements are the bones, the shape of the skull, the facial angle, the color of the skin, color, shape and texture of the hair. Of these, color, probably because the most conspicuous feature, was the first to be considered and formed the basis of all the early classifications. The craniological school founded by the elder Retzius (1796-1860), made the shape of the head the basis of classification, and introduced exact methods into this branch of the subject. This was based on the relative length and breadth of the skull, and accordingly mankind was divided into long-skulled and short, broad-skulled races. Later developments in craniology introduced a third class, representing a mean between the other two. Craniology alone cannot be depended upon to supply sufficient or trustworthy materials for the proper classification of mankind. Nevertheless it has thrown much light upon the subject. Of late years the color, shape and texture of the hair have steadily risen in the estimation of naturalists as a racial test. The hair is now regarded as the most constant of all the physical features and has been made the foundation of their groupings by some of the most eminent anthropologists.

The other physical ethnical elements are of little value separately, but are often useful aids in combination with others. Such are stature; the shape, color and position of the eye; the size and form of the brain; the shape of the nose and mouth; the superciliary and zygomatic arches, and all such other elements as collectively constitute the broad, flat features of the lower, the oval and regular faces of the higher races.

The psychical elements are less conspicuous, and have but recently been taken into account in classification. It has been said that “Love and hunger rule the world.” The former relates to the perpetuation of kind, the latter to self-preservation. Around these two may be grouped the other factors of this class. The following are the principal psychical elements:

(1) Preservative instinct, food, clothing, shelter; (2) Perpetuating instinct; (3) Language; (4) Religion; (5) Government (6) The Arts.

Food, clothing and shelter are the imperative needs of the human species at all ages and under all conditions. Among the prominent topics considered under the sexual impulse are the position of woman, the marriage relation and the line of descent. Language is the chief of the psychical elements. Some perhaps, with Horatio Hale, would make it the sole test of race. The power of religion, both as a constructive and dispersive force, is the repeated testimony of history. The organization and administration of government, whether in its primitive form or in the more enlightened stage, is of deepest interest. The arts of life find their origin in the rude homes of early man, and have steadily been influential in all human progress. For these have lives been lost, tribes been destroyed, nations been formed, battles been won. They have been the motive power in every effort, the impulse behind every forward movement of mankind from the earliest days to now.


Groups or Peoples
Color white
Hair wavy
Nose narrow
1. Hamitic 
2. Semitic
1. Euskaric
2. Aryac
3. Caucasic
1. Libyan
2. Egyptian
3. East African
1. Arabian
2. Abyssinian
3. Chaldæan
Indo-Germanic or Celtindic peoples
Peoples of the Caucasas
African or
Color black or dark
Hair frizzly
Nose broad
1. Central African
2. South African
1. Nilotic
2. Sudanese
3. Senegambian
4. Guinean
1. Bantu
Dwarfs of the Congo
Bushmen, Hottentots
Kaffirs and Congo Tribes
Asiatic or
 Color yellow or olive 
Hair straight
Nose medium
1. Chinese
2. Tibetan
3. Indo-Chinese
1. Tungusic
2. Mongolic
3. Tartaric
4. Finnic
5. Arctic
6. Japanic
Natives of Tibet
Burmese, Siamese
Manchus, Tungus
Mongols, Kalmucks
Turks, Cossacks
Finns, Magyars
Chukchis, Aimos
Japanese, Koreans
Color coppery
Hair straight or
Nose medium
1. Arctic
2. Atlantic
3. Pacific
1. Mexican
2. Isthmian
1. Atlantic
2. Pacific
Tinneh, Algonkins, Iroquois
Chinooks, Kolosh, etc.
Nahuas, Tarascos
Mayas, Chapanecs
Caribs, Arawaks, Tupis
Chibehas, Quichuan
Color dark
Hair wavy or frizzly
Nose medium or
1. Negrito
2. Papuan
3. Melanesian
1. Malayan
2. Polynesian
1. Australian
2. Dravidian
Mincopies, Aetas
New Guineans
Feejeeans, etc.
Malays, Tagalas
Pacific Islanders
Dravidas, Mundas

Race Classification. There have been so many changes in this world of ours and so many mixtures of ancestral strains that it is impossible to determine certainly to which race certain peoples belong. After successive efforts by able students to classify mankind upon this or that character or group of characters, the tendency now seems to be to return to the earlier classification. To recur to the three greater subdivisions — white, black and yellow; or, Caucasian, Negro, Mongolian.

With all the data gathered and the characters used in succeeding classifications, the original color plan in a general way is as good as we know. Popularly, too, this seems to have struck the fancy. Without thought we speak of a person as white, black or red, as he is a Caucasian, Negro or an American Indian.

Dall divides man into three groups: white, black and yellow. Flower and Lydekker also assign all representatives of mankind to three primary divisions. The status of the American aborigines is left unsettled. Keane gives to these a place among the races, making four. Linnæus in his day adopted four primary divisions. He, however, recognized man as a distinct genus, homo, having four species: Homo- sp æthiopicus, Homo sp mongolicus, Homo sp americanus, Homo sp caucasicus. Gerland divides mankind into six races, separating the Dravidians from the other groups. To-day man is considered a single species, having several varieties or races. Blumenbach gives five groups, classified according to the color of the skin. Professor Huxley also designated five groups along somewhat similar lines. Morton used the skull as a basis of classification; Haeckel and Broca the hair; and Hale language.

To one who carefully goes over the different schemes of classifying man, it is apparent that none is wholly satisfactory. Each in some direction overlaps some other. It is by taking all these race criteria so far as they are of value that the most reliable conclusions may be drawn as to the proper classification of mankind. No one set of standards will properly answer. That classification will be most satisfactory which obtains the most help from all the elements. All that we can aim to do is to group under some general and loose fitting subdivisions those members of the species which display the greatest number of similarities. (Brinton). Perhaps it will be as satisfactory to follow the plan of Linnæus and classify the races of men according to geographical areas. Under such a plan we speak of the European race, which in ancient times was confined to Europe and adjacent parts of Asia and Africa; the African race, whose natural home is Africa; the Asiatic race, which is chiefly confined to Asia; the American race, composed of those occupying the western continent before its occupation by Europeans; and, the Oceanic or Australian race, comprising the tribes of Polynesia, Australia and the many groups of islands sometimes included in Oceanica. We can use Blumenbach's scheme of dividing them according to the color of the skin. Under it, they are grouped as follows:

1, Caucasian, or white; 2, Ethiopian, or black; 3, Mongolian, or yellow; 4, American, or red; 5, Malay, or brown. Dr. D. G. Brinton enumerated five races of mankind. Their chief characteristics may be summed up substantially as follows: 1. The European Race — Traits — Color white, hair wavy, nose narrow, jaws straight, skull variable, languages inflectional, religions ideal. II. The African, or Negro Race — Traits — Color black, hair woolly, nose flat, jaws protruding, skull long, language agglutinative, religions material. III. The Asiatic, or Mongolian Race — Traits — Color yellowish or brownish, hair straight, nose flat or medium, jaws straight, skull broad and high, languages isolating or agglutinative, religions material. IV. The American Race — Traits — Color coppery, hair straight, nose narrow, jaws straight, skull variable, language incorporating, religions ideal. V. The Oceanic Race — Traits — Color dark, hair lank or wavy, languages agglutinative.

Classified in this manner, the human species presents the subdivision shown in the preceding “scheme.”

The European Race. — Of the South Mediterranean branch of the European race there are given two divisions, the Hamitic and the Semitic. The former is divided into three groups, the Libyan, Egyptian and East African. The Libyan group extends over Northern Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Nile. Some of these tribes are very dark and have been termed “Black Caucasians.” Neverthless, except for color, they are fine representatives of the white race. The Egyptian group is represented by the ancient Egyptians and their descendants, the modern Fellah of the Nile valley and the Copts. These two groups of this branch of the European race have been potent factors in the world's history. The development of the earliest seats of culture, the organization of government, and the establishment of high degrees of civilization have been the work of their representatives. On the contrary the East African group is represented by a number of tribes who are chiefly nomadic and occupy the territory south of the Egyptian group and extending from the Nile to the Indian Ocean. They include the Gallis, Somalis and Agaas.

The Semitic stocks are made up of three groups — the Arabian, Abyssinian and Chaldaean. The most prominent of the first group are the Arabians; the existing tribes best known are the Ishmaelites and Bedouin. They have occupied at different times parts of the Arabian peninsula and now practically cover it all.

The Abyssinian group is supposed to have originated in the region last mentioned and to have been dispersed over Abyssinia and adjacent parts of Africa. They have become mixed with adjoining tribes and a corrupt form of Christianity exists among them. The Abyssinians, Tigre and Amhara are prominent nations. The former is best known.

The third group of Semitic peoples has been called the Chaldaean. This includes the Syrians, Israelites, Samaritans, Babylonians and Jews. They also originated in Arabia and spread out into other lands. The Jew has become world-wide in his dispersal. From these peoples great nations were developed and from them two great religious leaders, Jesus Christ and Mohammed, have sprung.

The North Mediterranean branch is divided into three divisions. They are the Euskaric, Aryac and Caucasic stocks. The only surviving remnant of the Euskaric stock is the Basques of Spain. That they formerly were more widely distributed is generally believed. Their relationship with other peoples is not satisfactorily determined. The most extended and most important of these race stocks is the Aryac. The origin of the Aryans has been a fruitful theme of discussion in recent years. While there is still a difference of opinion on this subject, the majority of writers have accepted the theory of their European origin. The Aryac or Indo-Germanic stock is divided by Brinton into eight groups: Celtic, Italic, Illyric, Hellenic, Lettic, Teutonic, Slavonic and Indo-Iranic groups.

The Lettic or Lithuanian peoples, while comparatively inconspicuous, are in some respects the most interesting of their fellows. They are thought by some students to be the remnant of the original stock and that which most resembles it. They are located along the Baltic Sea in Prussia and Russia.

The Indo-Iranic group is of special interest because it has the farthest eastern range and for the reason that it is nearest the region which those who believe in the Asiatic origin of the race think was its primitive home. The term Iranic is derived from the plateau of Iran, which has been thought by some to be the area of dispersal of the race. The group divides into two divisions, the Iranic, whose old representatives were the Bactrians and Persians. To-day it includes the modern Persians, the Parsees, generally known as fire-worshippers, and the tribes of Beluchistan, Afghanistan and neighboring regions. The Indic branch comprises the peoples occupying India. The most prominent of these are the Hindus, Rajpoots and Djats. The typical Brahmins probably are the best representatives of the stock.

The Teutonic group includes the Germans, English, Norwegians, Swedes and Danes, and their ancestors, the Goths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Norsemen. These independent, aggressive, progressive races have been conspicuous in the history of the past and the activities of the present. They have spread throughout the world as missionaries of business, education or religion. They are the forces which operate in all progressive government, and are destined to sway the world.

East of these is the Slavonic group. It is represented to-day by the Russians, Poles, Czechs, Bulgarians, and other tribes of the Danube, region. Of their ancestors known in history are the Scythians and Massagetæ. The Slavonic tribes to the east, in one direction, came in contact with the Indo-Iranians and, in another, with some of the branches of the Mongolians. Within comparatively recent times some of them have made remarkable progress in civilization.

The Hellenic group comprised the ancient Greeks and their relatives. They occupied at an early date the peninsulas of Asia Minor, Greece, the southern part of Italy and contiguous territory. The progress of Greek culture is familiar. Greek language, literature and art form the basis of education everywhere. Their dominion was one of the world's greatest confederacies. Overthrown by the Romans and subsequently by the Mohammedans, they were for generations hidden from the view of the progressive world. The Illyric stock is situated near the Greeks in Turkey. It is represented by the Albanians. The Italic stock covered most of the Italian Peninsula. The Umbrians, Etruscans, Oscans and Latins were the principal older representatives. They developed the Roman Empire, and in the organization and conduct of government and the framing of laws they achieved a front place in the history of the world.

The Celtic group, originally spread over western Europe, has largely disappeared. Certain parts of the British Isles and the north of France contain the surviving members. These are the Irish, Welsh, Scotch, Manx and the people of Brittany.

The Caucasic stock is represented by four groups: Lesghic, Circassic, Kistic and Georgic. They occupy the Caucasus Mountain region.

The African or Negro Race. — The African race occupies Africa south of the Sahara Desert and of the Nile Valley. It is classified in three groups: the Negrillos, Negroes and Negroids. Under Negrillos (little Negroes) are grouped the Akkas and other pygmies of the interior region and the small-sized Bushmen and Hottentots farther south. The characters of some of these tribes are faithfully preserved in figures upon the Egyptian monuments. The most striking of these physical features is the peculiar growth and development about the pelvic region. The clicks of the Hottentot and Bushman languages find no counterpart in any other tongue. The Negroes are confined chiefly to western and central Africa, ranging east into Nubia. They comprise four subdivisions: the Nilotic, Sudanese, Senegambian and Guinean. The first is confined to the upper Nile Valley. The Sudanese group is represented by tribes in Sudan and westward. The western coast south of the Senegal River is the territory of the Senegambians. Farther south toward the Niger River are the tribes of the Guinea group. This region was the chief source of the slave trade. The descendants of the Guinea negroes found throughout the United States are living witnesses of the slavery which existed there but a generation ago.

The Negroids approach the Negroes, but are in some ways quite different from them. Their color is brown rather than black; their hair is “kinky” but not woolly; the nose is straight and not short and flat. They are of two groups — the Nubian and Bantu. The former are found in Nubia and the upper Nile Valley. The latter occupies practically all of southern Africa except the region of the Hottentots and Bushmen. Among the better known tribes are the Kaffirs, Bechuanas and Zulus. The African race occupies a low stage in culture. It has developed in the restricted area south of the Sahara basin. Probably it reached its typical development in the Niger Valley.

The Asiatic or Mongolian Race. — The Asian, or Mongolian race, is made up of two divisions — the Sinitic and Sibiric. The Sinitic branch includes the Chinese, Tibetans and the inhabitants of Anam, Siam, Burma and Cochin China. The Chinese have occupied their territory from quite early times. They have developed a peculiar civilization and in some particulars reached quite a high stage of culture. While there is considerable difference of opinion whether the arts of ancient China developed there or were acquired from the Aryans to the westward, it seems probable that in a great measure at least they were indigenous.

The Sibiric branch of this race is largely located north of the mountains of central Asia, ranging with the Arctic Circle from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. The six groups are the Tungusic, reaching from northern China toward the Arctic Ocean and to Kamchatka. The Mongolic occupying the vast highlands west of Manchuria, Genghis-Khan and later Tamerlane established two of the wide extended Mongol empires. The Tartaric, another highland group, has spread from Turkestan in several directions. The Turk is the most conspicuous representative, though much mixed with other races. The Finnic is a group of Mongols occupying northern Europe. It is represented there by the Finns and Lapps, and farther south by the Magyars. From there it extends east to the Volga River. The rude tribes fringing the Arctic Ocean in eastern Siberia and reaching to the Pacific are grouped under the name Arctic. The Chukchis and Kamchatkans are of their number. The Japanese and Koreans constitute the Japanese group. The Japanese are the most progressive and advanced of the Asiatic race.

The Oceanic Race. — The Oceanic race may be divided into three stocks — Negritic, Malayic and Australic. It occupies Australia, the islands of the South Pacific and Indian oceans and the adjacent shores of Asia. In their migrations, whether along the shores or over the seas, they have so intermingled that their relationships are puzzling. The Negritic stock is represented by the Negritos, including such small peoples as the Mincopies of the Andaman Islands, the Papuans of New Guinea and other islands, and the Melanesians. The Malayic stock is the most conspicuous and energetic of the ocean peoples. Its representatives are found extending almost two-thirds around the world, reaching from Easter Island to Madagascar. The most typical Malays are found in Malacca, Sumatra and Java, while others less marked extend from the Celebes to the Philippines. The Malays farther to the eastward are often called Polynesians. From their traditions it has been possible to obtain a fairly good idea of their successive migrations and of the comparative time of the settlement of the different island groups. They extend from New Guinea to New Zealand, Easter and the Sandwich Islands. The Australic stock includes the different tribes of Australia, the extinct Tasmanians, and, according to some authorities, the primitive peoples of the peninsula of Hindustan. The Australians are very low in culture, nomadic, lacking government and wear little or no clothing. “The life of these savages proves to be of undeveloped type, alike in arts and institutions, so much so, that the distinction of being the lowest of normal tribes may be claimed for them.” — (E. B. Tylor).

The American Race. — The American race includes those peoples occupying the western continent at the time of its discovery by white men. For the purpose of study they may be divided into seven groups: Arctic, North Atlantic, North Pacific, Mexican, Inter-Isthmian, South Atlantic, South Pacific.

The Arctic groups include the Eskimo and Aleutian peoples. They occupy the shores of the oceans in Arctic America and extend from Labrador to Greenland. In the North Atlantic group are some Indians of wide range. The Athabascans extend from the valleys of the Yukon and lower Mackenzie to Arizona; while farther to the southward, reaching into Mexico, the warlike Apaches are of this group. The Algonkins ranged from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from the Churchill River Valley and Hudson Bay southward throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys to the Tennessee River. These included most of the Indians encountered by the early settlers. Their names are more or less familiar to us from history. The intelligent Iroquois, the formidable Dakotas (Sioux), the southern Indians, some of whom built mounds within historic times, and the tribes of the interior plains also belong to this division. The North Pacific group includes a number of tribes west of the Rocky Mountains, many of which are small and represent distinct linguistic stocks. Several of these tribes have the head artificially deformed. These include the Flatheads and Nez Percés (Pierced Noses). The Cliff-dwellers and Pueblo tribes of the arid regions of the southwestern United States are placed here. The Mexican group is notable because of the state of civilization attained by the Aztecs, its best-known tribe. The organization developed, government established, education acquired, buildings constructed and arts pursued were unequaled by any tribe of the American race. The Mayas were the most important tribe of the Inter-Isthmian group. They were builders of note, elaborate decorators of stone and mural artists. The South Atlantic group occupied the Atlantic coast of South America. They were chiefly wandering tribes without settled habitations. The Quichuas of Peru are the best-known tribe of the South Pacific group. They attained higher civilization than any other South American tribe. They developed agriculture, domesticated animals, constructed large buildings of stone, were expert workers in metals and devised a method of record keeping by means of strings and knots called quippus. See Anthropology; Ethnology; Man, Christian Anthropology; Man, Prehistoric Races of; Embryology, Human.

Bibliography. — Boas, F., ‘The Mind of Primitive Man’ (New York 1911); Brinton, ‘Races and Peoples’; id., ‘The American Race’; Deniker, J., ‘The Races of Man’ (London 1900); Gerland, ‘Ethnography’; Keane, A. H., ‘Ethnology’ (2d ed., New York 1906); id., ‘Man Past and Present’ (ib. 1900); Morgan, L. H., ‘Ancient Society’ (1878); Ratzel, F., ‘History of Mankind’ (3 vols., ib. 1904); Thomas, W. I., ‘Source Book for Social Origins’ (Chicago 1909), with an extensive bibliography; and Tylor, E. B., ‘Anthropology’; id., ‘Primitive Culture’ (2 vols., New York 1891).

Amos W. Butler,
Zoologist and Anthropologist, Indianapolis.