Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

In man,

What, an anatomical system at present considered merely as a secretion of the skin, or at any rate as a simple appendage, should this represent clearly defined distinctive characters in the races of man inhabiting the globe? What, a single hair sufficient finally to distinguish one stock from another? At first, this seemed to me absolutely impossible. Nevertheless, on turning our attention to the animal kingdom as a whole, and specially to the vertebrate animals, the variety and importance of these appendages become incontestable at once. In fishes and amphibia they assume the form of scales; that of feathers in birds; and even in certain mammifers prickles are substituted for fleece. The felt of wild animals presents some distinct and constant characters in colour, texture, and distribution. excepting some regions, as the face in the male), the armpits, the pubes, etc., the surface presents generally only the rudiments of the fleece of animals; it is the hair of the head which distinguishes man in this respect.

I do not enter in this paper into the minute or elementary structure of the human hair. In this respect man differs no more from the animal than in the other organic systems, as regards their ultimate elements; hence there can obtain no difference between human races. But, as we shall presently see, there is a great difference in the conformation of the bulb or the body, as seen in transverse sections; and such there is also in the relative volume, the disposition and the contents of the medullary canal, which may even be absent. These characters can only be studied by the aid of the microscope. I have thought it proper microscopically to examine also the down on different regions of the body in individuals belonging to our race; the apes also, specially the anthropoids, seemed to me to deserve a place in this investigation.

I take this opportunity to return my sincere thanks to those honourable savants who have furnished me with samples of hair for microscopic examination. Without the kind aid of Messrs. Quatrefages, E. Rousseau, de Montagu, d'Abbadie, l'Abbé Domeneck, E. Duhousset, and Potteau, this unpretending treatise would probably never have seen the light.

I sincerely regret that, for certain races which inhabited or still inhabit North America and High Asia, I had no materials at hand. I would, however, fain believe that the varied forms of human hair are all represented by the samples I had at my disposal, and that, consequently, those peoples I was compelled to omit may be ranged by the side of such made known in these researches.

II. THE EXTERNAL CHARACTERS OF HUMAN HAIR AS SEEN BY

THE NAKED EYE.

The hair of the races of man presents, at first sight, very striking peculiarities in regard to its length, abundance, colour, and its smooth, curly, frizzled, crisp, or woolly condition, quite apart from the grotesque forms given to it by artificial practices which are met with both among the most civilised and the most savage peoples. This fact shows the importance which man instinctively and voluntarily has everywhere attached to that ornament which decks his head and frames his face, the noblest parts of his body.

We shall now examine the extreme variation of the characters visible to the naked eye. As regards the length of the hair, what a contrast between the stiff and sleek hair of the Blackfeet and the Sioux,* which almost reaches the heel, and the twisted tufts of the Negress and the Bosjesman, which scarcely reach the shoulder! We must take note, that the length of the hair greatly differs in the two sexes of the same stock; its length also raries so much in the same race, and even in the same families, that it is unnecessary to dwell on this character. We possess, moreover,

no certain data in this respect; but, at all events, we must, to some extent, attribute the peculiarity both to the influence of climate and aliment.

The abundance of hair is subject to so many individual variations, that it cannot form a really distinctive character. As a general rule, the finer and more supple the hair, the greater the number of hairs in a given space. On this point, we need merely to compare the head of the Negro with that of an American.

The colour of the hair has at all times fixed the attention of travellers and authors. On the one hand, it harmonises to a certain degree with the colour of the skin and the iris; and, on the other, it presents more or less persistence, according to race. Black hair is met with in nearly all parts of the globe-under the equator, the pole, as well as in the temperate zone.

It is the appanage of the Esquimaux, as well as that of the Negro, the Hindoo, the Malay, and of many European nations. Such is not the case in regard to the other extreme of the chromatic scale ; viz. the light hair, with its nearly imperceptible shades between flaxen, straw, and gold colour, to which we must add carroty and fiery red hair. From this last there is a transition to reddish-brown; from this to light brown, dark brown,

The hair of the mummies of the Aymarás of Peru is also distinguished by its length and suffness.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

or chestnut, etc. Among these innumerable shades, the light hair belongs to but few races, which chiefly inhabit Europe; such as the Germanic branches, Slaves and Celts of the Aryan stock, and the Finnish branch of the Turanian stock. Some light haired individuals are found among other peoples; as among the Armenians, who are partly of Aryan origin, the Semitics of Syria, among the Jews, and perhaps in Africa among the Berbers of the Atlas.* The red hair, on the contrary, seems represented, at least by some individuals, in all known races, whether equatorial or boreal. Whilst the red colour forms on the one hand, as it were, a bond of union between the most distinct races, the brown colour may be considered as establishing the transition between the light and the darkest shade. In point of fact, there are, excepting the Negroes, few black haired races among whom there are not many instances of brown hair, approaching more or less the red. This applies both to the inhabitants of the highest north, as to the Polynesian islanders, to the Americans, as well as to the Turanians, etc.

The inhabitants of Africa, exclusive of the northern coast, present few variations in the colour of the hair. This is also the case in America, where black and brown predominate.

Some rare exceptions in Peru and among the Mandans deserve notice. As regards the Peruvians, we have as yet no right to discard the idea of intermixture; and as to some Mandans with light and silvery hair, living in subterraneous cabins, they always appeared to me to owe that peculiarity to a partial leucosis. Oceania resembles in this respect America, presenting the same colours, and probably less exceptions. It is different in Asia ; but there also must the black and brown be considered as the most prevalent colours, excepting on some spots in the high table lands of the Himalaya, and specially in the west of that continent, where the juxtaposition or the intermixture of different races present samples of all shades of hair, as we find in Europe, here and there. It is the Aryan race in its numerous ramifications which inhabits these regions, and which presents, besides all the cranial forms, also all shades in the hair, from the jet black hair of the Hindoo to the pale yellow of the German or the Slavonian.

Among the Berbers, I have hitherto only found that ash-grey colour, which is also met with among other allophyletic nations in Arabia, Egypt, among the Turks, etc. It must, moreover, be borne in mind, that the use of lie-wash, of powders and ointments, produces an artificial colour of the hair. I have seen all kinds of shades, from a fiery red to a ery white, produced by these means. Just as originally dark hair may become discoloured by such means, so may it, vice verså, appear black, as I found in a wig from the Fiji islands. A thick black powder encrusted the circumference of each hair, and the original brown colour could only be seen after repeated washings.

From what precedes, we arrive at the conclusion that the colour of the hair alone is insufficient to characterise a race; for we have seen that the same colour-black, for instance—is the appanage of almost all the great groups of mankind, and that all shades may be met with in one and the same race. It is this last circumstance which must be taken in account in considering the question whether the colour of hair in a race may change in time and a different climate. Though numerous documents seem to refute the idea of a change, I must ask how we can explain the great variety of colour in the Aryan family, supposed to have descended from one stock; I, moreover, must appeal to daily observation. How many children with fair or reddish hair do not at puberty have it changed into nut-brown! A change in a contrary direction, that is to say from dark to light (apart from the gradual change to white by age), is rare, though not absolutely possible. The variegated colour of the hair of an individual, and even in a single hair from the bulb to the point, must not be omitted; nor the different colour of the down covering various parts of the same body.

Characters as important as those of colour are deduced from the stiffness, flexibility, straight or frizzled condition of the hair. The hair is smooth when the hairs are rectilinear, curly when they curve at the extremity, frizzled when they form curves in their whole length, and crisp when they are disposed in small or large ringlets resembling wool.

Perfectly smooth hair is the appanage of the Americans, the peoples of High Asia, China, Japan, Malasia, etc.

It is less common in Europe, and almost unknown in Africa. Curly hair is more or less found in the Aryan race, among the Semitics, in Polynesia and Australia, and individually also among the races cited above. Frizzled hair is very prevalent in Africa, arising frequently from the commixture of Nigritian blood, as in Egypt, in Abyssinia, amongst the Gallas, etc. It is also sporadically found among the Arabs and the Jews; more rarely among some European Aryans. The crisp hair predominates in Africa among the Negroes, the Hottentots, and in Melanesia.

As regards the latter region we must establish a distinction. Although there are Papuas with very fine hair, separated in tufts, crisp, and approaching that of the Negro and Hottentot, there are others who are . mop-headed,' wearing those enormous wigs, of which we possess descriptions and samples, and whose hair is far from presenting the characters of the first variety, as we shall show from

6

microscopic examination. We must here notice that Africa contains peoples possessing similar wigs as the Hadendoas, and that the Cafusos of South America offer another instance of this kind. I have, even in Europe, met with three individuals whose hair had the same aspect; but I had no opportunity of subjecting them to microscopic examination.

The general form which results from the stiffness or flexibility of the hair, appeared to me the most striking and persistent character. There is no Negro without more or less crisp hair ; there is no American without hair like a horse-mane, so to say; no Aryan who possesses either of these characteristic hairs on the head. With such a result, furnished by simple inspection, we ask, what is the cause of this diversity? It is for the microscope to answer the question. It will tell us that these differences result from the thickness and the contours of the hair, apart from the various dispositions which characterise the interior of the body of the hair, which will also be revealed to us by the instrument.

One word, on the implantation of the hair on the surface of the integument, before proceeding to microscopic examination. In the great majority of the races of man, the hair issues from its cutaneous envelope in an oblique direction, and the disposition of the hairs and the down presents according to the regions of the head and the body, the aspect of vortices, eccentric and concentric curves. In the Hottentot, the Papuan with crisp hair, and in a great portion of Negro peoples, the hair is implanted perpendicularly*, and disposed in large or small round tufts. The Bosjesman presents, as far as I am aware, the smallest tufts.

[ocr errors]

III.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE HAIR EXAMINED BY THE

MICROSCOPE IN A LONGITUDINAL DIRECTION.

I distinguish, like all anatomists, in each hair the root and the stem. The first consists of the bulb and the papilla. With regard to the shaft, it is not sufficient to examine it at any point in its length; it is requisite separately to examine the base, and specially the point, which presents certain peculiarities. The elements composing the hair are the epithelium, the cortical or fibrous, and the medullary substance.

1. The Root. The great diversity in aspect exhibited by the hair of different races, leads to the supposition that the root should,

• Is this diversity caused by the great thickness of the scalp in the Nigritian

races ?

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »