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Descent of Man [ 1871]

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Bullseye
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« Reply #195 on: February 10, 2009, 01:27:05 pm »

The Banyai of the more southern part of the continent are negroes,
but "a great many of them are of a light coffee-and-milk colour,
and, indeed, this colour is considered handsome throughout the whole
country"; so that here we have a different standard of taste. With the
Kaffirs, who differ much from negroes, "the skin, except among the
tribes near Delagoa Bay, is not usually black, the prevailing colour
being a mixture of black and red, the most common shade being
chocolate. Dark complexions, as being most common, are naturally
held in the highest esteem. To be told that he is light-coloured, or
like a white man, would be deemed a very poor compliment by a
Kaffir. I have heard of one unfortunate man who was so very fair
that no girl would marry him." One of the titles of the Zulu king
is, "You who are black."* Mr. Galton, in speaking to me about the
natives of S. Africa, remarked that their ideas of beauty seem very
different from ours; for in one tribe two slim, slight, and pretty
girls were not admired by the natives.

  * Mungo Park's Travels in Africa 4to., 1816, pp. 53, 131. Burton's
statement is quoted by Schaaffhausen, Archiv. fur Anthropologie, 1866,
s. 163. On the Banyai, Livingstone, Travels, p. 64. On the Kaffirs,
the Rev. J. Shooter, The Kafirs of Natal and the Zulu Country, 1857,
p. 1.

  Turning to other quarters of the world; in Java, a yellow, not a
white girl, is considered, according to Madame Pfeiffer, a beauty. A
man of Cochin China "spoke with contempt of the wife of the English
Ambassador, that she had white teeth like a dog, and a rosy colour
like that of potato-flowers." We have seen that the Chinese dislike
our white skin, and that the N. Americans admire "a tawny hide." In S.
America, the Yuracaras, who inhabit the wooded, damp slopes of the
eastern Cordillera, are remarkably pale-coloured, as their name in
their own language expresses; nevertheless they consider European
women as very inferior to their own.*

  * For the Javans and Cochin-Chinese, see Waitz, Introduct. to
Anthropology, Eng. translat., vol. i., p. 305. On the Yuracaras, A.
d'Orbigny, as quoted in Prichard, Physical History of Mankind, vol.
v., 3rd ed., p. 476.

  In several of the tribes of North America the hair on the head grows
to a wonderful length; and Catlin gives a curious proof how much
this is esteemed, for the chief of the Crows was elected to this
office from having the longest hair of any man in the tribe, namely
ten feet and seven inches. The Aymaras and Quechuas of S. America,
likewise have very long hair; and this, as Mr. D. Forbes informs me,
is so much valued as a beauty, that cutting it off was the severest
punishment which he could inflict on them. In both the northern and
southern halves of the continent the natives sometimes increase the
apparent length of their hair by weaving into it fibrous substances.
Although the hair on the head is thus cherished, that on the face is
considered by the North American Indians "as very vulgar," and every
hair is carefully eradicated. This practice prevails throughout the
American continent from Vancouver's Island in the north to Tierra
del Fuego in the south. When York Minster, a Fuegian on board the
Beagle, was taken back to his country, the natives told him be ought
to pull out the few short hairs on his face. They also threatened a
young missionary, who was left for a time with them, to strip him
naked, and pluck the hair from his face and body, yet he was far
from being a hairy man. This fashion is carried so far that the
Indians of Paraguay eradicate their eyebrows and eyelashes, saying
that they do not wish to be like horses.*

  * North American Indians, by G. Catlin, 3rd ed., 1842, vol. i., p.
49; vol. ii, p. 227. On the natives of Vancouver's Island, see Sproat,
Scenes and Studies of Savage Life, 1868, p. 25. On the Indians of
Paraguay, Azara, Voyages, tom. ii., p. 105.

  It is remarkable that throughout the world the races which are
almost completely destitute of a beard dislike hairs on the face and
body, and take pains to eradicate them. The Kalmucks are beardless,
and they are well known, like the Americans, to pluck out all
straggling hairs; and so it is with the Polynesians, some of the
Malays, and the Siamese. Mr. Veitch states that the Japanese ladies
"all objected to our whiskers, considering them very ugly, and told us
to cut them off, and be like Japanese men." The New Zealanders have
short, curled beards; yet they formerly plucked out the hairs on the
face. They had a saying that "there is no woman for a hairy man";
but it would appear that the fashion has changed in New Zealand,
perhaps owing to the presence of Europeans, and I am assured that
beards are now admired by the Maories.*

  * On the Siamese, Prichard, ibid., vol. iv., p. 533. On the
Japanese, Veitch in Gardeners' Chronicle, 1860, p. 1104. On the New
Zealanders, Mantegazza, Viaggi e Studi, 1867, p. 526. For the other
nations mentioned, see references in Lawrence, Lectures on Physiology,
&c., 1822, p. 272.

  On the other hand, bearded races admire and greatly value their
beards; among the Anglo-Saxons every part of the body had a recognised
value; "the loss of the beard being estimated at twenty shillings,
while the breaking of a thigh was fixed at only twelve."* In the
East men swear solemnly by their beards. We have seen that
Chinsurdi, the chief of the Makalolo in Africa, thought that beards
were a great ornament. In the Pacific the Fijian's beard is "profuse
and bushy, and is his greatest pride"; whilst the inhabitants of the
adjacent archipelagoes of Tonga and Samoa are "beardless, and abhor
a rough chin." In one island alone of the Ellice group "the men are
heavily bearded, and not a little proud thereof."*(2)

  * Lubbock, Origin of Civilisation, 1870, p. 321.
  *(2) Dr. Barnard Davis quotes Mr. Prichard and others for these
facts in regard to the Polynesians, in Anthropolog. Review, April,
1870, pp. 185, 191.

  We thus see how widely the different races of man differ in their
taste for the beautiful. In every nation sufficiently advanced to have
made effigies of their gods or of their deified rulers, the
sculptors no doubt have endeavoured to express their highest ideal
of beauty and grandeur.* Under this point of view it is well to
compare in our mind the Jupiter or Apollo of the Greeks with the
Egyptian or Assyrian statues; and these with the hideous bas-reliefs
on the ruined buildings of Central America.

  * Ch. Comte has remarks to this effect in his Traite de Legislation,
3rd ed., 1837, p. 136.

  I have met with very few statements opposed to this conclusion.
Mr. Winwood Reade, however, who has had ample opportunities for
observation, not only with the negroes of the west coast of Africa,
but with those of the interior who have never associated with
Europeans, is convinced that their ideas of beauty are on the whole
the same as ours; and Dr. Rohlfs writes to me to the same effect
with respect to Bornu and the countries inhabited by the Pullo tribes.
Mr. Reade found that he agreed with the negroes in their estimation of
the beauty of the native girls; and that their appreciation of the
beauty of European women corresponded with ours. They admire long
hair, and use artificial means to make it appear abundant; they admire
also a beard, though themselves very scantily provided. Mr. Reade
feels doubtful what kind of nose is most appreciated; a girl has
been heard to say, "I do not want to marry him, he has got no nose";
and this shows that a very flat nose is not admired. We should,
however, bear in mind that the depressed, broad noses and projecting
jaws of the negroes of the west coast are exceptional types with the
inhabitants of Africa. Notwithstanding the foregoing statements, Mr.
Reade admits that negroes "do not like the colour of our skin; they
look on blue eyes with aversion, and they think our noses too long and
our lips too thin." He does not think it probable that negroes would
ever prefer the most beautiful European woman, on the mere grounds
of physical admiration, to a good-looking negress.*

  * The African Sketch Book, vol. ii., 1873, pp. 253, 394, 521. The
Fuegians, as I have been informed by a missionary who long resided
with them, consider European women as extremely beautiful; but from
what we have seen of the judgment of the other aborigines of
America, I cannot but think that this must be a mistake, unless indeed
the statement refers to the few Fuegians who have lived for some
time with Europeans, and who must consider us as superior beings. I
should add that a most experienced observer, Capt. Burton, believes
that a woman whom we consider beautiful is admired throughout the
world. Anthropological Review, March, 1864, p. 245.

  The general truth of the principle, long ago insisted on by
Humboldt,* that man admires and often tries to exaggerate whatever
characters nature may have given him, is shown in many ways. The
practice of beardless races extirpating every trace of a beard, and
often all the hairs on the body affords one illustration. The skull
has been greatly modified during ancient and modern times by many
nations; and there can be little doubt that this has been practised,
especially in N. and S. America, in order to exaggerate some natural
and admired peculiarity. Many American Indians are known to admire a
head so extremely flattened as to appear to us idiotic. The natives on
the northwestern coast compress the head into a pointed cone; and it
is their constant practice to gather the hair into a knot on the top
of the head, for the sake, as Dr. Wilson remarks, "of increasing the
apparent elevation of the favourite conoid form." The inhabitants of
Arakhan admire a broad, smooth forehead, and in order to produce it,
they fasten a plate of lead on the heads of the new-born children.
On the other hand, "a broad, well-rounded occiput is considered a
great beauty" by the natives of the Fiji Islands.*(2)

  * Personal Narrative, Eng. translat., vol. iv., p. 518, and
elsewhere. Mantegazza, in his Viaggi e Studi, strongly insists on this
same principle.
  *(2) On the skulls of the American tribes, see Nott and Gliddon,
Types of Mankind, 1854, p. 440; Prichard, Physical History of Mankind,
vol. i., 3rd ed., p. 321; on the natives of Arakhan, ibid., vol.
iv., p. 537. Wilson, Physical Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution,
1863, p. 288; on the Fijians, p. 290. Sir J. Lubbock (Prehistoric
Times, 2nd ed., 1869, p. 506) gives an excellent resume on this
subject.
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