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Nature volume 127, page 364 (07 March 1931) | Download Citation



THIS volume is intended to serve as the first outline of an index to “all the decorative imaginings of mankind”, an undertaking indeed of no little magnitude. Here, however, certain limitations are observed. Much sufficiently known already is avoided? the time-series limit is set at A.D. 1000? the examples are drawn only from Europe and western Asia (especially Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Mediterranean)? with their links in other lands. Sir Flinders Petrie here touches again on the value of decorative design as presumptive evidence of connexion between the designers, where historic connexion between the designs can be traced, on the ground that purely decorative design has no stimulus of pressure towards use or invention such as that which underlies an essential obviously needed. This principle is illustrated often when designs are brought together, as they are here, arranged under their classes. Among them, perhaps the most striking example is that with which the series opens, a central figure with an attendant pair of lions, wolves, or other animals, one on either side. This is one of the earliest motives of Egypt and Mesopotamia which persists through the ages down to the present day, when it appears as the lion and the unicorn of the Royal Arms and in the supporters of armorial coats.

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