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.
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.