Page:The American Indian.djvu/335

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method has been led by Sapir,[1] while the best examples of its application are to be found in certain studies by Boas among the Eskimo,[2] Spinden in Maya art,[3] Lowie in societies of the Plains Indians,[4] and Hatt in studies of clothing.[5]

Boas[6] has used the method in a number of instances, but particularly in his discussions of Eskimo culture, when he concludes that the most differentiating features of the Alaskan Eskimo are more recent than the remaining Eskimo culture. The method is even more extensively applied by Thalbitzer[7], who decides that the original home of the Eskimo was around Bering Sea, from which general center he traces out the older and newer traits.

Hatt, a Danish student, has exhaustively studied skin clothing both for North America and Asia, distinguishing between very old surviving types and those of recent origin. The oldest origin center he places in northern Asia from whence the concepts seem to have been diffused.[8] In general, he finds two periods of diffusion over the arctic and sub-arctic areas of the world:—

1. The older culture: Marked by absence of snowshoes, its best representative being the Eskimo. It was essentially a seacoast culture.

2. The later culture: Marked by the snowshoe, the tipi tent, the moccasin, etc. It was an inland culture. The transition from 1 to 2 was not recent.

Spinden's searching analysis of Maya art[9] is important both for the results attained and as an example of sound method. By objective comparison the carvings upon the monuments and walls of Maya ruins were placed in two groups that seemed to be sequential. Further, since these stelæ, or monuments, are dated, it is easy to designate the time relations of these groups, thus establishing art periods. From this as the point of departure, the entire art of the region is analyzed into its respective periods and norms established for the identification of such additional examples as may be discovered. As to how far the method can be trusted in localities where there is no dating system to serve as a check, is not clear; but it promises well.

  1. Sapir, 1916. I.
  2. Boas, 1907. I.
  3. Spinden, 1913. I.
  4. Lowie, 1916. II.
  5. Hatt, 1914. I; 1916. I.
  6. Boas, 1907. I.
  7. Thalbitzer, 1914. I.
  8. Hatt, 1916. I.
  9. Spinden, 1913. I.