A Greater Feeling for Art

‘The moral characteristics of the Papuan appear to me to separate him as distinctly from the Malay as do his form and features…¬†Of the intellect of this race it is very difficult to judge, but I am inclined to rate it somewhat higher than that of the Malays, notwithstanding the fact that the Papuans have never yet made any advance towards civilization. It must be remembered, however, that for centuries the Malays have been influenced by Hindoo, Chinese, and Arabic immigration, whereas the Papuan race has only been subjected to the very partial and local influence of Malay traders. The Papuan has much more vital energy, which would certainly greatly assist his intellectual development…The Papuan has a greater feeling for art than the Malay. He decorates his canoe, his house, and almost every domestic utensil with elaborate carving, a habit which is rarely found among tribes of the Malay race.’

Alfred Russell Wallace, The Malay Archipelago, Volume II.

‘Decoration is of a sensorial and elementary order, as is colour, and is suited to simple races, peasants, and savages. Harmony and proportion incite the intellectual faculties and arrest the man of culture. The peasant loves ornament and decorates his walls. The civilized man wears a well-cut suit and is the owner of easel pictures and books.

Decoration: baubles, charming entertainment for a savage.’

Le Corbusier, Towards an Architecture.

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