Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/135

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122 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

American Indians" will at once show a similarity between the two nations in point of artistic performances : —

"I have been unable to find anything like a system of hieroglyphic writing among them; yet their picture-writings on the rocks, and on their robes, approach somewhat towards it. Of the former I have seen a great many in the course of my travels; and I have satisfied myself that they are generally the totems (symbolic names) merely of Indians who have visited these places, and, from a similar feeling of vanity that everywhere belongs to man much alike, have been in the habit of recording their names or symbols, such as birds, beasts, or reptiles, by which each family and each individual is generally known, as white men are in the habit of recording their names at watering-places."

Catlin's work contains, among other illustrations, a few plates representing these picture-writings, and the similarity between the works of the Indians and those of the New Hollanders, as shown in a representation before alluded to in these papers, is most remarkable. In point of skill and ingenuity no difference whatever is observable. There is something very remarkable and interesting in the consideration of this point of coincidence in two races of savage men, separated from each other by more than half the globe — the one people having attained one degree above the lowest level of barbarism — the other, so far as external appearances go, little removed from the lowest point to which it is possible for human nature to descend. While on this subject, another fact, suggestive of a variety of speculations, forcibly recurs to the mind. This is the discovery, made in the early part of the