Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/846

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826
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lusks. The Peruvians and the Mexicans knew how to place the colors upon their cloths. The goods were then exposed to the action of the light, and tints varying from a delicate rose-color to a dark violet were obtained. The colors were so well fixed that they were not even modified by the decomposition of dead bodies. In the collection of cloths from the Peruvian huacas at the museum of the Trocadéro, in Paris, wrappings of mummies that have been buried for centuries still retain the primitive color on their time-eaten threads.

The Mexicans probably obtained the remarkably brilliant coloring of their pictographs by somewhat analogous processes. These pictographs, manuscripts of which only a smaller number have reached us, embrace the history of the country, its national traditions, the genealogies of its kings and nobles, the rolls of provincial tributes, the laws, the calendar, religious festivals, and the education of the children—a complete summary, in fact, of all that concerns the manners, customs, and life of the people. They were painted in various colors on cotton cloth, on prepared skins, or on a strong and tough paper made from the fibers of the agave. At times the artist depicts scenes from real life; at other times he records facts by means of hieroglyphical, symbolical, or phonetic characters, conventional signs that have been handed down for generations, and on which innovation is prohibited. Another series of pictures illustrates the education of children and their food and punishments. The father teaches his son to carry burdens, to steer a canoe, or to manage the fishing-tackle. The mother instructs her daughter in domestic duties; she sweeps the house, prepares tortillas, and weaves cloths. These pictures present the distinct outlines and bright colors which the Americans sought first of everything. Evidently we must not ask them for models of decorative painting. Their complete ignorance of proportions and the laws of perspective demonstrates that their art was the exclusive product of their own genius, or of the instinct of their race, and that they had not been subject to any foreign influence.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.

 

RECENT GEOLOGICAL CHANGES IN WESTERN MICHIGAN.
By C. W. WOOLDRIDGE, B. S., M. D.

WESTERN Michigan is a region noted for its lumber, its peaches, and its sand. It has other claims, however, to the attention of those who are interested in the workings of Nature, that are not nearly so well known as they deserve to be, for it bears the marks of very extensive geological changes in recent times, which are even yet in progress, but have not attracted the attention that their im-