Home : Specific Features of The Prehistoric Art

What art should be considered to be a pre-historic one?


Few years ago the Marxist philosophy of history considered as prehistoric the art of the primitive society: the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Ages. But the development of culture was uneven. When a primitive organization dominated over the eurasian steppes, in the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, in the valley of the Nile and in other regions with favourable natural conditions the ancient civilizations were formed.

Unevenness of the cultural development rate in different periods and in different regions requires appropriate criteria to classify imaginative monuments to the prehistoric art or, for example, to the culture of early civilizations. The main features of the civilization, such as urban culture, writing, murals and reliefs on the walls of living and cult buildings etc., may be one of these criteria (though not quite absolute because absolute criteria are impossible in the history of culture). But the situation is still vague. Egypt of the Early or Ancient Kingdom existed under the conditions of the Chalkolithic, the tools were mainly stone as in a prehistoric society. At the same time art was brilliant and diverse. And how to classify the murals on the walls of dwellings and shrines of the proto-urban culture like Chatal Huyuk or statuettes from Jericho, Khadgilar etc?

Can we consider the Scythian animal style, which carries the features of the Aeneolithic art of South Siberia and the influence of Greek art at the peak of the Athenian democracy and that of Iran in the Achaemenids epoch, to be a primitive art? How to attribute the art of the Indians from the North-West coast of the USA and Canada(see in left), which is, in fact, quite up-to-date, or the art of the numerous aboriginals from Asia, Africa, Australia(see in right) and Latin America? The imaginative art of these peoples, as well as the art of aboriginals from Siberia, Central Asia and Europe still preserve many subjects and stylistic peculiarities of the prehistoric art. Therefore it may not be out of place to call such art "an imaginative folklore". Close interaction of oral and imaginative traditions and of other aspects of the sign behavior (dancing, mime, rythmical speech etc.) in the prehistoric art is based on the common natural psycho- physiological principles. Language and image are - from the appearance of the modern man and up till now - means of cognition and reflection of the outside world which are the complement of one another. If the complementarity principle can exist in the humanities the same way as in physics, it is applicable, in the first turn, to the explanation of interaction of logical and imaginative mentation.

Art folklor

The main folklore features are visible in the prehistoric art. For instance, it is difficult to distinguish individual artistic styles in the palaeolithic paintings and in the neolithic petroglyphs, although the "epoch style" is clearly seen. The same with folklore. The ancient Greek literature, brilliant as it was, is not a literature in the modern sense of the word. As the author's verbal art oriented for the readers and printed for them, it appeared only in the Hellenistic epoch and the interest to the author appeared still later.


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