'Historic Ornament' in 2 volumes is one of the best-known works by an Irish artist James Ward. This carefully crafted e-artnow ebook is formatted for your eReader with a functional and detailed table of contents: Prehistoric Ornament Neolithic Stone Period The Bronze Age The Iron Age The Lake Dwellings of Switzerland and other parts of Europe Egyptian Art Chaldean and Assyrian Art Ph?nician Art Art in Ancient Persia Grecian Art Art in Primitive Greece Greek and Roman Orders of Architecture Greek and Roman Architectural Ornament Indian art and Architecture Chinese and Japanese Architecture Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture Saracenic Architecture and Ornament Romanesque Architecture and Ornament Gothic Architecture and Ornament Renaissance Architecture and Ornament Pottery Enamels Ivory Carvings Metal Work Furniture Textile Fabrics Mosaics Glass The Decoration of Books
James Ward (1851-1924) was an Irish artist, author and teacher. He was an important figure in the Irish and British art scene in the late 19th and early 20th century. Ward is best known in Ireland for his striking murals in Dublin City Hall depicting scenes from Dublin's history. Besides being the author of influential textbooks, Ward was an innovative teacher who taught and inspired a generation of Irish artists.
CHAPTER IV. Table of Contents
THE BRONZE AGE.
The people of the Bronze age introduced a higher civilisation into the world than their predecessors of the Stone ages. There appears to be a great overlap between the Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages of Central and Northern Europe, and the historic periods of the Eastern countries bordering on the Mediterranean. We have evidence that great periods of time must have marked the epochs of the prehistoric ages, and that the Bronze age, like the Stone and Iron ages, began at different times in different countries. The tribes who brought with them the age of Bronze into Europe composed the Celtic van of the Aryan race. The earliest productions of this period were the simple wedges resembling flat stone axes, the sides of which are slightly thickened to form ridges or flanges; the centres are also raised, which produces a ridge to prevent the head from going in too far in the handle; in some the flanges are much developed, and have also a loop cast on the side for the purpose of tying it on to the haft. Some are made with a socket and loop; these have been called "Paalstabs," and have a flat chisel-like shape (Figs. 28, 30).
Figs. 28 to 30.-Bronze and Paalstabs. (From Danish Arts.)
Figs. 31 to 34.-Bronze Axes, Paalstabs, and Moulds. (From Danish Arts.)
Figs. 35 to 38.-Bronze Swords and Spear-Head. (From Danish Arts.)
Figs. 39 and 40.-Bronze Button for Sword Belt.
(From Danish Arts.)
These earlier implements are often made of pure copper. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin, generally from two to four per cent. of tin, and is consequently harder than copper. Knives, hammers, gouges, sickles, daggers, spears, swords, shields, many kinds of vessels, and articles of personal adornment made in bronze, belong to the earlier time of the Bronze period, and similar articles were made in this material in the prehistoric Bronze ages all over the known world (Figs. 35 to 40).
An interesting object is a breast-plate, belonging to this early Bronze period; it is decorated with zigzags in bands, and a well-arranged scheme of spiral ornamentation (Fig. 41). Urns of earthenware, sometimes decorated with zigzags and sacred signs, have been found in graves. These urns contained ashes of the dead (Figs. 43, 44).
Fig. 41.-Breast-plate, with Spiral Ornaments. (From Danish Arts.)
Many of the bronze implements and other articles have been found in tombs, in caves in great quantities, both finished and unfinished, in "Kitchen Middens," or refuse heaps, in river-beds, and in bogs.
Fig. 44. Figs. 42, 43, and 44.-Urns of the Bronze Age (From Danish Arts.)
Fig. 45.-Bronze Bowl found in Sweden. (Scand. Arts.)
Fig. 46.-Urn of the Stone Age found in Swedish Dolmen. (Scand. Arts.)
Some of the objects found in North Germany, and particularly in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, are exceedingly beautiful in their shape and decoration. From nowhere else in the world come so many objects, and so much that is characteristic of the prehistoric Bronze age. This period has been ably treated, and at great length, by Mr. J. J. A. Worsaae, in his "Danish Arts," and by Mr. Hans Hildebrand, in his "Arts of Scandinavia," to which books we are indebted for the accompanying illustrations. It may be noticed that much of the decoration on these objects consists of a few simple elements with much geometric repetition. The varied forms are chiefly spirals interlocking at regulated distances, concentric rings, triangles, zigzag lines, and bands formed of lines which are reminiscences of the earlier withy lashings, with which the stone celts were fastened to their hafts. The raised, as well as the flat twisted-like bands, are derivatives from the twisted strings that would naturally be tied around the pottery of an early date to carry it by (Fig. 45).
Fig. 47.-Bronze Hatchet found in Sweden. (Scand. Arts.)
The spirals, zigzags, ring-crosses, wheels, triskeles, reciprocal meanders, semicircles, &c., are geometrical developments of sun-snake, lightning, the sun itself, cloud-forms, moon-forms, star-forms, and the sacred fylfot or swastika, all of which had their origin in Egypt, India, Central Asia, or Greece. At first they were used as isolated signs, or pictographs, to represent physical phenomena, that were objects of Nature-worship with almost all the nations of the world after the dawn of civilisation, and when these signs migrated into the art of other nations or later peoples, who were either ignorant of their meaning or understood them in an imperfect way, they ceased to be employed as isolated signs of the various divinities they originally represented, and were copied, and repeated, as required, to fill in a geometrical way the space at hand to be ornamented.
Fig. 48.-Sun Signs.
A, Wheel Cross or Wheel; B, Sun God Signs; C, Fylfot, or Swastika; D, Triskele; E, Stars or Sun Signs.
A beautiful piece of workmanship is the bronze horn (Fig. 50). Worsaae thinks that this horn was used in the worship of the gods in the early Bronze age, owing to the great number of sacred signs engraved on it. Sun-wheels, sun-snakes, and sun-boats, developed into spiral ornament, may be seen on it.
Fig. 49.-Sun Signs. (From Danish Arts.)
F, Sun-snakes; G. Swastika; H, Triskele; I, Star or Sun.
N.B.-The Swastika here is evidently a double Sun-snake.
Fig. 50.-Bronze Horn or Trumpet, found at Wismar, in Mecklenburg. (From Danish Arts.)
There is one ornament that plays an important part in the Bronze and Iron periods, of which much has been written, the "fylfot" or "swastika." It has been found in nearly every quarter of the ancient world, except Egypt and Assyria, both in savage ornament and in the art of cultured races. The "fylfot" or "many" or "full-footed" cross in Anglo-Saxon, it is also known by the names of "gammadion," "croix gammée," "croix cramponée," "tetraskele," &c. The Indian name for it is the "swastika" or "svastika," which means "good luck," or "it is well." The fylfot, according to the opinion of many archæologists, was originally the sign of the sun, and used as a sacred symbol in the worship of the sun; others think it was a sign used to symbolize the rotatory motion of the planets; it is quite likely it has been used by different early peoples for both. It has been associated with other sun signs, as the circle, concentric circles, with the S-shaped sun-snakes, as on the prehistoric whorls from Hissarlik, and very frequently with the solar divinities, as the horse, boar, ram, lion, ibex, and goose, &c. It is found on Cyprian and Rhodian pottery and on the "geometric" pottery of Greece. Its appearance on many objects of early Christian art can be accounted for. In these cases the Christian missionaries permitted the continued use of it to their pagan converts, but they themselves attached a new meaning to it, regarding it as merely a substitute for the symbol of the cross.
Fig. 51.-Pinak or Plate, Archaic Period, from Camiros, Rhodes, showing Fylfot, and Sun Signs, and Sacred Boar. (British Museum.)
Some writers have argued, with a good deal of plausibility, that the Greek fret pattern, Chinese and Japanese frets, were only developments from the fylfot. This is purely conjectural, for as regards the Greek fret, it is more likely that it had an Egyptian source, as so many of the Greek ornaments are but developments of Egyptian and Assyrian forms. The fret used by the Greeks has been found in Egypt in the ceiling ornament of tombs more than a thousand years before it appeared in Greece. The Chinese frets may have in some instances a fylfot origin, but at present this is doubtful, as it has not yet been proved. The drawing of the archaic Greek plate (pinak), in the British Museum, given at Fig. 51, from the Greek colony of Rhodes, is very interesting, as it shows a well-developed fylfot between the legs of the boar, and an early Greek fret band; the fret here may only be a water-sign, or a river-edge representation. The spaces around the boar (animal sacred to the sun) are filled up with sun-signs and star-signs; even the large segment of radiating lines, and the form over the animal's back may typify the sun. The whole decoration has a high religious meaning in reference to sun-worship, and is evidently a copy by a Greek artist of an oriental embroidery motive.
Fig. 52.-Silver Brooch, Plated with Gold, in the form of a Double...