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When a modern viewer sees the works of artists and sculptors of ancient times on a museum exhibition, no matter what civilization they belong to, he is usually struck by the gross violations of natural proportions inherent in these works. The heads can be turned into a flat disk, the legs are either stretched out until they turn into fragile reeds, or, on the contrary, compressed into two massive heavy curbstones, the ears are stretched almost to the shoulders or are absent altogether.

And one more thing: the spirit of death seems to hover over the creations of ancient masters. Sculptures are devoid of internal movement, their faces are cold, frozen, gazing into an unknown space, the eye sees nothing, although the eyes are open. But there are, however rarely, works of a different series. I remember being deeply moved in the Cairo Museum of Antiquities, the world's greatest collection of treasures of Egyptian civilization, when among the huge stone statues of pharaohs with indifferent faces, among the figures of half-forgotten gods who seemed frozen in the consciousness of their own greatness, I suddenly saw a live duck floating through the glass of one of the showcases among blooming blue lotuses and green papyrus, whose black, glittering eyes seemed to be watching my every move. For fear of startling her, I was afraid to move my hand. And she continued to swim on, not looking back at the millennia behind her. In this dark realm of dead grandeur, she looked like a glittering spark of distant life.

Do we need any other proof that in the deepest antiquity there were not only artisans, but also great masters?


It is amazing how early humanity developed the most essential foundations of its worldview, which it will adhere to for many centuries to come. In the future, they become fertile sites where the main ideologemes characteristic of certain national groups grow. If, for example, some of the findings of the philosophers of Sumerian or ancient Greek civilization are compared with the conclusions about space and time, about numbers, made at the dawn of the formation of human societies, it quickly becomes clear to what extent the creations of these thinkers depend on the most ancient ideas of the masses. Behind every great thinker of antiquity is the vast experience of his people, and sometimes the experience of other civilizations.

How significant were the peaks reached, for example, by a primitive artist, is eloquently indicated by cave painting of the Upper Paleolithic era in a relatively small area of Spain and France. At the moment of its discovery in the Altamira cave in northeastern Spain, it appeared before a shocked viewer.

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so perfect, so detailed in every detail, as if it had just been born out of Zeus's head. For a long time, major anthropologists refused to believe in its authenticity, declaring the Altamira finds a cynical fake. They later had to apologize for their mistakes.

Initial incredulity began to give way to enthusiastic acceptance as huge underground rock art galleries were discovered in other caves in Spain and France. The amazing realism of the animals depicted seemed to be something wonderful. It was completely incomprehensible how the ancient masters managed to reach such heights of visual expressiveness without any rich school behind them. One more thing was striking: the found works were often found at great depths, where eternal darkness reigned. Obviously, the artist had to work in the light of torches or bonfires. It was obvious that only religious motives motivated him to perform such a feat.

The outstanding French anthropologist Andre Leroi-Gourhan, assessing the importance of the findings made in recent decades, wrote: "The existence of Paleolithic sanctuaries in caves is one of the most important facts of human history" (Leroi-Gourhan, 1961, p.77). At the same time, he stressed that, in all likelihood, this hotbed of culture independently arose in the border area between modern Spain and France, where it developed, apparently, without any external influences. "It seems unlikely," the scientist wrote, " that the day will come when more ancient plastic art will be discovered. The consistent nature of its development, starting with awkward sketches of the Aurignacian period, seems to confirm that it was not imported from other parts of the world where Homo sapiens might have lived before settling in Europe" (Leroi-Gourhan, 1961, p.77).

Gradually, some of the aesthetic principles that the Paleolithic painters adhered to also began to become clear. They were closely connected with the main aspects of the worldview that existed at that time, in particular with religious views. Of course, at the current level of our knowledge, writing about them can only be assumed. Nevertheless, their individual features, when compared with the spatial representations of other peoples, allow us to make a number of fairly well-founded judgments about the peculiarities of aesthetic and religious views of people of the Franco-Cantabrian culture.

The first question that lies on the surface is: why were paintings created in the depths of caves, where, it would seem, there were the least suitable conditions for the artist's work? Moreover, it seems that the master deliberately tried to place his work area as deep as possible into the bowels of the earth.

In my opinion, one explanation can be found for this habit: there was a belief that the deeper, the closer to the world of those mythical forces on which the well-being of the human collective depended. The painter also worked in the interests of this team. The darkness of the cave also had its own meaning: it was in the darkness that mythical forces operated, about which, apparently, the first ideas were already formed. It is unlikely that they were very developed, but they existed, and people were aware of the dependence of their existence on the good or evil will of these mythical forces.

If this observation is correct, then it is permissible to take the next step, assuming that their worldview included a picture of the duality of space, where along with the social sphere mastered by man, there was also a mythological sphere with its own characters. Moreover, the man of the Paleolithic era created their true images in his eyes: they were bison, horses, mammoths, mountain goats, bulls, reindeer, and in addition, predators, most often - bears. It is characteristic that these were the same creatures on which the well-being of the human collective depended in reality.

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In this regard, we should recall one feature inherent in many rock carvings. In a number of paintings, it seems that the bison, horses and deer depicted on them seem to hang in the air. The pattern of their legs is not completed, many animals do not have hooves, they are not able to rest on the ground, they seem to be carried by the wind. In fact, despite all the realism of their depiction, these animals are ghosts, located in a ghostly, mythical space, polar in relation to the real, vital space, i.e., where death dominates. If you make this assumption, then what looked like an aesthetic blunder turns into an eloquent detail.

So, the aesthetic principle that predetermined the artist's choice of subjects of his image was originally planned. The focus of his attention naturally turned out to be the beings who played the greatest role in the life of the collective to which he belonged. And another important feature of primary aesthetics: in order for an artist's work to be useful to the team, they must be realistic. If his creations distorted real images of animals, then what he drew would reflect only his personal inner world and would not be of public interest. And his personal creative will was far from free. The drawings of animals, which had a religious character, had to correspond exactly to the smallest detail to their prototypes in order to be useful to the priests of his tribe, who worshipped the creatures of the mythical world in his images.

The triumph of realistic principles in primary aesthetics may also have been due to the fact that the public imagination was taking its first steps. It was not yet able to imagine images that were completely different from those that a person saw around him. There is a time for everything. A few millennia will pass, and realism will be replaced by a dizzying wealth of fantastic creatures that will fill the public imagination.

Studies by such French scientists as Madame Lamin-Amperer and A. Leroy-Gourand also proved that the rock carvings were not random sets of important figures for humans during the Paleolithic period, but were thoughtful compositions that reveal the relationship between them. The most frequent, as Leroy-Gourand noted, was the "horse-bison (or bull)" combination, which was found in almost all compositions, with one or two horses in the bison group or vice versa. Very often, groups of horse and bison are seen; one animal is smaller than the other and is located between its legs, or one pattern is superimposed on the second. The second most frequent link is between a female and a bison. According to the French scientist, their connection can be traced from the level of the developed Perigord and continues almost to the end of the Magdalenian period. Sometimes it alternates with the "mammoth woman" group. Finally, a man is depicted in conjunction with a bison or horse.

This observation allowed the scientist to conclude that "the artist of the Paleolithic era created in a rigid network of visual traditions and that, no matter how different his vision was from the modern one, it corresponded, consciously or not, to exact rules" (Leroi-Gourhan, 1961, p.74). In other words, there was already a sufficiently developed system of aesthetics with its mandatory norms for the artist. According to Leroy-Gourand, with whom it is difficult to disagree, " there is a mythology understood in the broadest sense as a set of unusual and everyday events and persons placed in mythical time/space. This system revolves around the most important game animals-the horse, bison (or bull), often the mammoth, and sometimes the reindeer; it implies linking them two at a time as a central theme; it also assumes the presence of secondary participants, as if covering the scene in a certain framework, namely, most often the deer and mountain goat. In nai-

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dangerous animals, carnivores and rhinoceros are placed further away from the central plot" (Leroi-Gourhan, 1961, p.83).

Unlike realistic images of animals, people in the paintings of underground galleries are rare, their images are sketchy, conventional. In fact, if at the center of the Paleolithic system of religious and mythological views were the animals that the ancient hunter society worshipped, then it did not make sense for the painter of that time to depict a person. Perhaps this is another argument in favor of the opinion expressed by A. Leroy-Gouran that fantastic animal people were depicted, in fact. They are still few in number in this era, and their time will come with the rise of Sumer and Egypt.

Geometric symbols and ornaments in Paleolithic art are usually less interesting for researchers than huge realistic rock scenes. However, it seems that Paleolithic symbolism is no less important for understanding the most ancient aesthetics. Ornamental signs served as the most important complement to realistic scenes, which they closed as if in a symbolic framework, serving as an expression of entities that would be almost impossible to portray in specific scenes: male and female, earth and sky, sun and moon, lightning and thunder, water and fire, space and time, infinity, etc. Strictly speaking, it is in these primordial signs that the very essence of the archaic worldview lies. In addition, they undoubtedly served as a symbolic designation for the mythological creatures themselves.

The meaning of only two of the oldest signs is more or less indisputable - these are the designations of the male and female principles, which often have a sexual character. They are carefully developed and point to the existence already in the deepest antiquity of the idea of the division of the universe into these two principles and of their decisive role in the movement and development of the universe. The life of a tribe largely depended on the orderly relationship between its male and female groups. There was a clear division of responsibilities both in the labor, economic, and ritual-ritual spheres between the male and female halves of the community. Numerous finds of iconic female images dating back to the Upper Paleolithic period, small primitive figures with pronounced female characteristics, known as "Paleolithic Venuses", confirm the recognition of the special spiritual role of women in the tribe. It is characteristic that the same male figurines of that era are not found. In this way, art captured the special role of women in society, which was also emphatically emphasized by aesthetics.

The meaning of other characters is more or less assumed. A circle and a square, which usually denote heaven and earth, respectively, can exchange their meaning depending on how one or another ethnic group imagines heaven and earth. The meaning of other symbols of Paleolithic art is unlikely to ever be precisely clarified. At the same time, these initial signs are very stable, they are not easily influenced by time, and therefore later sign systems of other peoples can be useful in their interpretation. For example, among the ancient Egyptians, a wavy line served as a symbol of water, the water element. It is also often present in rock art, where it probably has the same meaning. Among the Slavs, the rhombus was an iconic image of the field. And it is characteristic that this sign is not found among people who did not know agriculture in the Upper Paleolithic.

In the aesthetics of both the ancient and new Stone Ages, the symbols from which the signs of the ornament grow occupy a prominent place. The more complex people's ideas about the universe become and the more important the role of ideas in these ideas, which can be conveyed not by realistic figures or scenes, but by abstract signs, the more noticeable is the role of abstract-concrete symbols in the art of painting, in the art of painting.-

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frame, in embroidery. In these areas, the signs of the ornament, losing the original meaning that is forgotten, acquire an independent impulse of development, contributing to the creation of truly amazing creations. Changes in the ornament well convey changes in public consciousness, shifts in taste, and an increase in the level of skill, and therefore the ornament serves as a reliable means of dating the products decorated with it.

By the way, it is in the ornament that the key role of rhythm in the visual arts in general is initially revealed. If the artist's skill in conveying the pulsation of life, the breath of space, and the movement of matter is shown in his paintings precisely in the ability to capture the general rhythm of what is depicted, which, due to its very complexity, can escape the viewer's superficial attention, then the master potter or embroiderer, repeating the same motif over and over again, not only emphasizes its importance, but also makes the meaning of the persistently repeated sign obvious to the most hurried viewer.

The past seems to us a brief moment, but we must not forget that the art of the Upper Paleolithic lasted for about ten millennia, several times longer than modern civilization. Therefore, the most ancient art of mankind cannot be perceived as a kind of instantaneous flash of awakening human genius. It grew and flourished slowly, following the general rhythm of the formation of Paleolithic civilization and the development of aesthetic tastes. In the regions adjacent to the Pyrenees from what is now France and Spain, the most favorable conditions for its rise arose, but it seems that this flourishing could not fail to manifest itself in other areas where people lived, although perhaps not in painting, but in other forms of art. In connection with the onset of the ice age, the first focus of human creativity died out, but the sparks scattered by it, in turn, gradually flared up, but already at a new, higher stage of human culture.


The aesthetics of the original art had no theoretical fathers. Its foundations were laid in the process of spontaneous creative process. And he himself could not help but respond to the changes in the structure of society, which always took place in an intense struggle, to the way relations between different social groups develop. Gradually, the tastes of the groups that were dominant in society began to influence its aesthetics more and more. The influence of mythology and the peculiarities of collective consciousness is equally huge. His findings became the basis of folk aesthetics.

In this evolutionary process, which began in the regions adjacent to the Pyrenees, there is a gap somewhere around the 11th-10th millennia, and it remains unclear how the culture developed until about the 8th-7th millennia, when the Neolithic revolution begins, agriculture and cattle breeding appear, ceramics appear and a new leap forward takes place in the sphere of spiritual life. In this regard, the research of the French anthropologist Henri Lot in the mountainous regions of the Sahara is particularly interesting. The mountains, with their hard-to-reach steep rocky slopes, to some extent fulfilled the same role as caves for the artist of the Paleolithic era. And probably for the same reasons, the mountains of the Sahara were attractive to the African painter - they looked like islands of a mythical world.

The French researcher counted up to sixteen different levels of painting, corresponding to different eras and styles. Historically, the Sahrawi finds cover the period from the Upper Paleolithic to the time of the appearance of the domesticated horse and war chariots, i.e., to the times already historical. When discussing the question of whether the rock art of the Sahara had anything to do with magic, A. Lot is very careful. "Neospo-

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remo, "he wrote ," we have found characters that were supposed to represent gods or sorcerers, but there are also ensembles where it seems fairly obvious that artists with great imaginations painted for the simple pleasure of reproducing what was before their eyes" (Lhote, 1958, p.71).

Obviously, under the blinding light of the Sahara sun, it was more difficult to believe that the primitive painters in both cases depicted the other world, especially since the rock paintings showed the viewer scenes of real life that existed at that time. In any case, it can be argued that they did not paint from nature, but reproduced the images that filled their imagination. And in both the first and second cases, they depicted beings on whom the survival and well-being of their society depended and who were probably worshipped in one form or another. The realism of the images should not be misleading. It is known that the first pastoralists had a very special relationship with their herds: the animals that served as the basis of their well-being were for them a living embodiment of their success, resilience, and ability to procreate. It is hardly a coincidence that in Ancient Egypt many of the first gods were represented by bulls and cows. It seems that the paintings on the rocks of Tassili were also a form of religious worship.

It is quite possible that the change of styles in Sahrawi painting was due to the fact that there was a displacement of some ethnic groups by others. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the sometimes very abrupt changes in styles. However, one feature associated with applying different image styles is particularly noticeable. In accordance with changes in the worldview, conventionality begins to be widely used, often adjacent to realism, and sometimes completely replacing it. First of all, conventionality characterizes human images, and this becomes a characteristic feature of the aesthetics of Sahrawi art.

On the basis of the triumphant aesthetics of conventions, a very original style of round-headed figures is formed. According to A. Lot's observation, they sometimes reach enormous sizes. One of the most impressive creations was about six meters high. The mountainous area where such figures are particularly common was called "Jabbaren" by the Tuareg, which means "Giants". As a rule, these round-headed creatures are only outlined with a contour line. Their heads seem to grow out of a torso devoid of a neck. Some of the figures show light clothing. Sometimes the heads are decorated with feathers.

It is interesting that usually the heads and torsos are depicted full-face, but only one eye is visible on the face, when it is depicted at all, and on female figures-only one breast located on the side. In this connection, the author of a book about Tassili suggested that these are probably images of Amazons like those that were under the Dahomey king Behanzen: they burned out one of their breasts, which interfered with them when shooting. But no. For the creators of the Tassili frescoes, this was only a stylistic device. Sometimes they placed both breasts one above the other on one side of the body. The feet are turned sideways. To some extent, the "roundhead" style anticipated the ancient Egyptian approach to human representation; for the sake of completeness, it was necessary to show it simultaneously from different points of view.

During the period of the dominance of the "roundhead" style, humanoid creatures clearly aroused increased interest among painters. Sometimes they were depicted as whole groups, participating, judging by the poses of the figures, in a rapid dance. These figures look flexible, thin, drawn into the general consonantal movement of the dance. Their very exquisite grace speaks of both taste and skill of the painter. In a strange way, they seemed to foreshadow the art of the Brazzaville school of Poto-Poto, which is distinguished by the same graceful convention and expressiveness in the transmission of human movement.

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The roundhead style seems to have been the oldest in the Sahara. It is a testament to the already well-developed mythology that had developed among African tribes by this time. The aesthetics that underlie it affirm the importance of the otherworld and its values. The cult of conventionality that it proclaims can be assumed to be generated by a worldview that sharply contrasts mythical space, the space of death, the space of humanization, the space of life, the real world of air and water, the sun and moon, the world of animals and the blue sky, where people defend their right to exist by hard work, in an incessant war with other people. It seems that the aesthetic triumph of the conventional principle in Tassili's art confirms that even in the human consciousness, imaginary pictures of myth have been pushed into the background by pictures of the real world.

A. Lot, who came to the conclusion that the Tassili frescoes cover a huge time period, identifies several different levels in it. According to his observation ," the most ancient images represented small creatures painted in purple ochre with a schematized body and a round, excessively large head... In fact, this very peculiar human type, with its round head and descending loincloth, is the main element of prehistoric painting in Tassili, because the subsequent levels preserve its norms. Red ochre can be replaced by yellow ochre, the bodies can become thin, threadlike, but the head remains the same. This style covers at least five levels, and each of these levels differs little from the previous one, except for improving the drawing and creating more lively scenes, especially dance scenes when the horned dancers resemble small imps " [Lhote, 1958, p. 225].

During the heyday of this style, painting ceases to be monochrome, although a single-color drawing is still found. As A. Lot noted, " artists pay more attention to the development of subjects that now include not only human-like creatures, but also elephants, rhinos, wildebeest and mouflons. The head is more tightly attached to the body than at earlier levels, and in the circle surrounding it there are interesting motifs: parallel lines, triangles, semicircles. Once again, the quality improves: the shapes become more graceful, indicate a more thorough study of details; you can distinguish bracelets for hands or ankles, belts, jewelry in the hair or on the shoulders (hairstyles, feathers) and, above all, drawings on the breasts, stomach, thighs, arms or legs, which can be interpreted as scarifications or tattoo " [Lhote, 1958, p. 226]. According to the scientist, these decorations are surprisingly similar to those found in the Upper Nile and Central African peoples, confirming the Negroid character of the inhabitants of the Sahara at the time of the creation of the Tassili frescoes.

As the social structure develops and becomes more complex, the aesthetics of pictorial images change. The characters of the compositions are now endowed not only with pronounced sexual characteristics, which is always very noticeable in prehistoric cultures, but also with other details that characterize them. The changed aesthetic principles require the artist to reflect the real social differences among people. The senior in age, and even more so the senior in position, always seems to be taller, larger and more powerful. In the drawings in the pose of people surrounding the leader, the artist carefully notes their reverence, belittled self-perception.

It is difficult to say how many millennia separates the "roundhead" style from the style that Henri Lot calls "bullish". The appearance of this style would be logically connected with the fact of domestication of cattle, which in terms of its time of origin links it to the era of the Neolithic revolution, i.e. to the 7th - 6th millennia. In his aesthetics, the remaining conventionality in the image of a person is striking

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along with the expressive realism of antelopes, elephants, giraffes and especially bulls, whose herds occupy a central place in the work of artists. At times, it seems that Cantabrian art has been revived with its dedication to realism, with its ability to convey movement. But there is one significant difference, which is the compositional skill of the Sahrawi artist. If in the art of caves in Spain and France, the composition only takes the first uncertain steps, then the Sahrawi painter knows how to connect both the beast and the hunters chasing it in a single movement. Their behavior is logical and determined by each other's movement. Dozens of figures are connected by a single master plan and the logic of their own actions. For all their conventionality, the figures of people are presented in a rapid, diverse movement, depending on the hunted prey, then on the slow, chaotic tread of bull herds, then on the danger from attacking enemies.

It seems that the sharp difference between the" roundhead "and" bull " styles reflects the profound changes that occurred after the beginning of the Neolithic revolution in the collective consciousness. We can confidently say that aesthetic demands have significantly increased not only for tools, which have become much more carefully finished than before, but also for ceramics, architecture, and jewelry. Although the spirit of conservatism was fully preserved, having successfully passed through the upheavals experienced, a person's view of the world around him became broader, he began to understand the interrelationships existing there more deeply. From now on, society valued the dynamics of images and the diversity of participants in the events described by artists more highly. The world became more complex, and aesthetics now required art to depict this complicated world in all its diversity. At the same time, the artistic thought of that time had not yet come to the discovery of a spatial perspective; huge compositions on mountain slopes look flat, devoid of volume.

The accumulated experience of bull artists seems to have had a significant impact on the art and aesthetics of other African peoples, sometimes over a distance of thousands of years. In fact, the Tassili mountain range was transformed by ancient hunters and pastoralists into a giant art workshop. But not only that. It was also a hotbed of culture, which then spread among many peoples of Africa. The aesthetic principles developed by Sahrawi painters served as the basis for the work of the masters of Ancient Egypt. Tassili frescoes depict priests wearing masks similar to those found today in Tropical Africa; women's heads are decorated with hairstyles that were recently fashionable among the Fulbe women, nomadic pastoralists.

Finally, at a certain historical moment, cultural flows could change their direction: the developed culture of Ancient Egypt began to penetrate into Tassili, which immediately found its picturesque reflection on its steep mountain slopes. Probably, this influence was not limited to the peoples who lived in the Sahara, it spread further. In particular, the rock paintings of the bushmen of South Africa show the same combination of convention and realism, the same compositional skill and the same ability to convey the slightest shades of movement, as in the Tassili frescoes. The Bushmen did not have huge herds of cattle, but the surrounding nature was not much different from the nature of the Sahara of the 5th - 4th millennia BC.e. Rock canopies, shallow caves in the mountains served as a kind of canvas for Bushmen artists. Who knows if the bushmen of South Africa are not the living descendants of the painters of the Sahara?


The special value of A. Lot's research is given by the fact that they allow us to trace changes in the visual arts of the peoples of the Sahara over the past decade.-

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over several millennia. No other art workshop in the world has existed for so long. Of course, it would be extremely interesting to consider, for example, the development of fine art in Sumer since its inception. But this task is almost impossible, since Sumerian civilization originated in the silted lands of the Tigris and Euphrates Delta, where even simple stone was rare, not to mention rock paintings that could survive for thousands of years.

In the visual art of Sumer, at least in its early stages, ornament triumphs. Its development was parallel to the development of ceramics. Imbued with a powerful symbolic meaning, it served several needs besides its aesthetic functions : it warned hostile mythical beings that the symbol bearer was under their protection, and claimed that he was able to counteract witchcraft and harmful magic. In a world where people even arranged dishes in their own homes with an eye to preserving the harmony of relations with cosmic forces, symbolic signs of ornaments on utensils, embroidery patterns on clothes, tattoos on the face and body acquired a huge psychological, and not just semantic, rational significance. It is characteristic that the ornaments on ceramics often show the first signs of the style of emerging fine art, folk aesthetics. Where there were no conditions for the emergence of rock art, it is ceramics that preserves for us the traces of the first steps of human talent to perfection.

In Mesopotamia, one of the earliest periods of pottery production recorded by archaeologists - the Hassun period-is the production of the first ornamental ware. Potters have already used all three known methods of applying ornaments to fired clay: incision, drawing and the combined use of these two methods. The motifs of this ornament are geometric. These are triangles, wavy lines, rhombuses, a grid, and hatching. But these patterns were applied in the Hassun period carelessly, unevenly. Only from the next period, which bears the name of the city of Samarra, does the sense of beauty make potters more strict about the pattern on their products. The French art critic Andre Parrault describes the ceramics of this period as follows: "Utility no longer precludes elegance. Pottery with its dishes and bowls is transformed into a luxury production as the decorator engages in it like never before. The vessel is barely sculpted when he takes up his brushes. All combinations of rectangular, horizontal, vertical, or flowing lines are checked. Then the craftsman moves on to geometric combinations: squares, rectangles, rhombuses. It is now enough to resort to patterns of simple lines and geometric compositions to arrive at an infinity of motifs" (Parrot, 1968, p. 394). However, the master did not stop there. As the researcher noted, the ornament would have remained abstract if the Samarra master had not included in it motifs of flowers and animals taken from nature.

Already in this period, the ornament reaches a high degree of perfection. I would like to note that the development of ornamentation towards geometrized abstract symbols occurred not only in Mesopotamia, but at different times it was also observed in other, very different cultures. And this geometrizing approach to the universe significantly influenced the nature of sculpture where it is found, and the nature of painting when it appeared in Mesopotamia and especially in Ancient Egypt. In essence, it expressed the desire of collective thought to generalize ideas about life in polysemous symbols. And it was found not only in ceramics, but also in all forms of folk needlework - in carpet weaving, embroidery, wood carving, and in many civilizations of the world and in sculpture.

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It is important to note another feature of the ornament: in its geometricism, it is close to numbers, associated with the oldest rhythms. At the same time, archaic aesthetics is characterized by the fact that the structure of poetic texts, legends and fairy tales, music was expressed in the simplest numbers, which corresponded to the organization of artistic and figurative thought. The numerical rhythm inherent in the ornament permeated almost all the creativity of a person who listened to it and subordinated both his labor efforts and the movement of creative thought to it.

Ultimately, the symbols developed by the collective became an essential part of its cultural heritage, the development of which ensured the survival of this society, the preservation of its individual face in the mass of other, also rapidly developing ethnic groups. Within each of them, a sense of solidarity is strengthened, held together by a common aesthetic sense; it helps each of its members to feel more confident, more reliable in the face of the incessant dangers that lie in wait for a single person trying to make his own way in life. Gradually, this collective feeling, the feeling of ethnic community, becomes dominant in the human soul, and the principle of ethnic solidarity-determining in the aesthetics of each national and ethnic group.

Already in the Franco-Cantabrian culture, which looks surprisingly monolithic, the attentive eye of A. Leroy-Gouran noticed traces, apparently, of tribal differences. Since the decline of this culture, several of the most economically and culturally advanced ethnic groups have formed in the world, which turned into the creators of the first world civilizations that gave impetus to the development of the rest of humanity. In Eurasia, the cultures of Asia Minor and Crete, Mesopotamia, India and China were distinguished by their power and great spiritual potential, and later secondary civilizations rose on their shoulders. Among them, we should probably single out the Greco-Roman civilization, the civilization of Iran, the cultures of Indochina, Mongolia and Tibet, the Siberian peoples, the peoples of South and North America, the Slavs, and the peoples of Africa. All of them are at different stages of development, and their formation is marked by a strong external influence.

At the same time, it seems that despite the proximity of early ethnic styles, there was a variety of national and ethnic styles that manifested themselves differently at different stadium levels of development. In many cases, these stylistic features are so sharply marked that they allow you to determine which culture it belongs to by the slightest artifact. Nevertheless, the so-called primary civilizations have fundamental norms of consciousness that allow us to speak, if not about unity, then about their close proximity. This spiritual, inner closeness also exists in aesthetics.

We have already discussed some of the characteristic features of Franco-Cantabrian culture. In a more complex form, these traits are found in all primary cultures. This is primarily a pronounced desire for harmony in creativity between the inner world of the artist and the external world, i.e. social, as well as with the mythical space with its powerful creatures. At the same time, the creator is not confused by the fact that these creatures themselves are generated by his imagination, that the entire mythical world was formed by previous generations, and the stories about its creation simply turn the entire historical process upside down. The thought simply couldn't occur to him.

The consciousness of the necessity of harmonious co-existence with the universe permeates all archaic cultures. Aesthetics reinforces this belief. In ancient times, Chinese cities were built in such a way that the gates in the fortress walls faced the four cardinal directions-north, south, east and west. The location of the capital was determined with the help of soothsayers who found the place

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the most favored nation for its construction. They were looking for a point where the location of the imperial palace would coincide with the center of the universe, through which the axis connecting the zenith with the midpoint of the earth passes.

But not only the Chinese sought to orient their cities to the cardinal directions. Among the Yoruba people of western Nigeria, it was customary to build palaces of the supreme chiefs facing the rising sun. This tradition is based on a very ancient belief in the existence of lines of force emanating from the sun and moon that permeate the universe, and it was not appropriate for a person to disrupt their free flow in space with their structures or any other actions.

For this reason, I think, aesthetics prescribed the ancient Egyptian artist to observe the strictest order in the composition of his paintings. However, the French Egyptologist Jean Yoyot noticed one exception to this rule, which is very characteristic. The image of feverish, convulsive movements, disorderly mixing of figures was allowed in scenes of hunting wild animals, in images of defeated barbarians, and sometimes mourners. On the contrary, powerful warriors or people performing THEIR labor functions were supposed to be portrayed as calm and confident [Yoyotte, 1961, p. 156]. As the scientist noted, this was "a strange compromise between the need to portray the necessary effort, action and the need to keep the scene within the static framework of prescribed decency" (Yoyotte, 1961, p. 156).

Even at such a relatively high stage of development, public consciousness demanded that the artist's work conform to the aesthetic norms accepted in society, which were based, in particular, on the understanding of the high role of the painter as a "co-creator" of reality. The collective thought boiled down to the belief that the artist should not violate the existing relative harmony between society and the universe, which could have happened if the master had not found an exact measure between chaos and order. In particular, aesthetic conservatism stemmed from the ancient man's belief in the immutability of the basic principles of the universe, which persisted despite the rapid variability of everyday life. Of course, the cosmogony of ancient societies originally contained an idea of the redistribution of the universe that once took place during the collision between Chthonic forces during the struggle of the gods among themselves. And although this event in the minds of people belonged to the long past, the possibility of repeating something like this during their life was not rejected, but was considered extremely undesirable.

Aesthetic conservatism permeated ancient Egyptian art. The principle of looking back to the forefathers was the basis of the Egyptian painter's work for centuries, being supported by both religious and socio-political conservatism. An interesting detail is this: apparently, it was in the Nile Valley that a copying grid of many intersecting straight lines was invented, with the help of which even today students transfer large paintings to their notebooks. Only occasionally did ancient Egyptian art experience flashes of renewal, as was the case, in particular, under the Pharaoh of the XIX dynasty Akhenaten, when painters were given the freedom to deviate from the accepted canons in their work, even when depicting the sovereign himself. But after Akhenaten's death, everything went back to normal.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, the role of the authorities and the clergy should not be overstated in the sustainability and maintenance of this conservatism. It had the deepest psychological roots in society itself. His power was especially great in the primitive tribal system, when the degree of dependence of each person on the will of his community was especially great. It may seem paradoxical, but in that era it was the slaves and outcasts who were the freest part of society, since by virtue of their position they were as if outside of it and were not subject to its ideological principles-

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kam. It is significant that in medieval Africa, during the formation of states, kings who wanted to achieve liberation from the rigid yoke of tribal religious prescriptions had to constantly resort to the assistance of this social stratum, from which they recruited their court guards.

Gradually, each civilization developed its own system of conventions, which today helps so much to distinguish the creations of one people from the creations of another by the totality of the smallest signs. This is especially evident when depicting people. The image of man in ancient art was surrounded by a particularly large number of various extra-aesthetic prohibitions and regulations, which ultimately formed the real aesthetics of society. Especially important is the ban on the image of a living person, which is characteristic of primitive societies. Even today, in many remote areas of Africa, Asia, Australia and America, indigenous people are afraid to take pictures or pose for sketches. This is due to the fear that the image of a person gives the person who possesses it a magical power over the fate of this person - he gets the opportunity to influence his fate and even doom him to death. Naturally, in ancient times it was forbidden to capture the image of living people even more severely than today. Therefore, for example, African masks, often endowed with precise, individually characteristic features, still do not represent portrait images, but are the faces of long-gone people or images of spirits. Gradually, conventionality replaces the last traces of vitality and realism from the archaic visual arts, and the works of masters turn into dead, symbolic schemes.

The study of the conventions that prevailed in the image of a person reveals some deep foundations of archaic aesthetics. Interesting, for example, is the scheme adopted by ancient Egyptian painters. They saw the person depicted as if from several points of view at the same time. So, the head was depicted in profile, although the only eye was drawn full-face. The body is usually presented frontally, but only one nipple was indicated on the body, placed on the side, just under the shoulder. The painter could see three-quarters of the bottom of the body, but the legs were drawn in profile. On the hands, if they are not clenched into fists, all ten fingers are visible. On the contrary, on the feet, as a rule, only the thumb is distinguishable. Recall that such an approach to the image of a person, which is demonstrated by the Tassili frescoes, began to form in the Sahara.

What prompted the Egyptian artist to make such a decision? It seems that the desire is to portray the whole person as fully as possible, while preserving all the most characteristic features of it. This desire was inherent not only to the Egyptians, but also to the masters of Mesopotamia. The Assyrians have winged bulls with human heads and five legs. According to Andre Parrott, the author of an essay on the visual arts of Ancient Western Asia, this was a trick that allowed the viewer to see the monster's four legs from any point, without noticing the fifth (Parrot, 1961, p. 542). Thanks to the trick, the viewer's impression was complete.

If we take into account that the ancient artist depicted not what he saw in nature, but what was visible to his inner vision, then his disregard for perspective becomes clear, as well as the image of not only what is visible, but also what is not visible, but what exists and is known to the painter. Describing a floating boat, he also depicted a fish under water. This principle of internal vision, which requires the artist to maximize the completeness of the information conveyed by him, predetermined his approach to man, to space. Knowledge drawn from life experience, mythology, and religion, rather than direct vision, was one of the main norms of primitive aesthetics.

One of the most striking features of ancient art is the unrestrained folk fantasy, which creates a huge world of monsters. Egyptian

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mythology is full of creatures that intertwine human and animal principles: sphinxes-lions with the heads of people, rams with human heads, people with the heads of jackals. Many deities of Egypt are personified as people with bird, cat and other animal heads. In Sumer, where images of man-beasts were also common, there were lions with eagle heads and scorpion men. In one of the royal tombs of Sumerian Ur, a stele was found, in the upper row of which a hero with a lion's head held two bulls with human faces crowned with horns. Below, the lioness holds a tray of gifts in her paws, and behind her, the lion carries a jug of wine (Parrot, 1961, p. 414).

Obviously, these figures reflected the state of public consciousness, which saw the world inhabited by strange, complex creatures in which the animal principle was naturally intertwined with the human principle. We can say that art truly reflected this monstrous state of the human spirit. In making its first steps, thought proceeded from the homogeneity of the human and the animal, without at all contrasting them with each other. Many tribes were descended from animal ancestors.

Archaic aesthetics literally reveled in the bizarre fruits of folk fantasy. Several millennia later, these creatures in the public consciousness are already beginning to look like remnants of the terrible times of chaos, from which humanity must be urgently saved. Gilgamesh among the Sumerians and other peoples of Mesopotamia, Hercules, Perseus, Theseus and other heroes of ancient Greece were engaged in just this-the extermination of monsters, the purification of the earth from ancient Chthonic forces.

It can be assumed that human society was beginning to realize the gulf that separates it from the world of other living beings. If recently it was assumed as a very real possibility that a person is hiding under the skin of a python, and a swan could turn into a beautiful girl, now the very idea of such transformations has become an ornament of magnificent fairy tales. At the same time, humanity was separating itself in its consciousness from the mythical world and its inhabitants. Consciousness became more rationalistic, and aesthetics became more grounded. In the seemingly strange paradox of depicting pictures of the otherworld while imagining the real world, the latter gradually replaced the former. The real world was coming to the fore, albeit very slowly, but persistently, with increasing determination.

list of literature

Leroi-Gourhan A. Prehistoire. Histore de l'art. Т. 1. Le Monde non-chretien. Encyclopedic de la Pleiade. P., NRF, 1961.

Lhote H. A la decouverte desfresques de Tassili. P.: Arthaud, 1958.

Parrot A. Asie occidentale ancienne // Histoire de l'art. T. 1. Le Monde non-chretien. Encyclopedic de la Pleiade. P.: NRF, 1961.

Yoyotte J. Egypte ancien // Histoire de l'art. T. 1. Le Monde non-chretien. Encyclopedic de la Pleiade. P.: NRF, 1961.


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