‘A thing of beauty joy forever ’ – John Keats
The above lines simply mean beautiful things remain in our mind forever, beauty simply heals us at spiritual, intellectual and psychological level. Beauty has a soothing effect on us.
But what is beauty? can we define beauty? Or beauty is a personal phenomenon, why are designs important. Why some things are beautiful and some things are not? In this article we will describe beauty and will try to trace evolution concept of beauty and maybe a part from the story of human evolution.
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?
People can find beauty in landscapes, fine art, musi , football matches, someone’s face or someone’s toilet seat. For me concept of beauty is beautiful but maybe for you this article is boring. So, beauty is untangible, it cannot be defined by any one person.
Perception of beauty changes in different time periods even the use and root idea evolves and changes with time, but then there are some standards of beauty that never change. They have been here since the ancient times and will remain with humanity forever. Some of these standards are symmetry, ratios and patterns.
All these standards of beauty come from nature.
Going back 80,000 years ago
Humans are in an inherent agreement about beauty and nature of certain things. The patterns and the things of beauty all come from nature. Pattern recognition or searching for beauty became part of our biology and psychology because they helped our ancestors survive thousands of years ago.
From time unkown identifying cloud patterns, river patterns or even patterns of natural vegetation was and is still vital for human survival. Just think about those times when early homo sapiens would be moving in small groups in search of food water and shelter, looking for favourable landscapes, remembering them and analysing safety measures would be so important.
Some typical questions in their mind would be like – Do those clouds mean rain will come soon, are those strong waters safe to swim? can I eat this or is this poisonous?
Symmetry too plays a part here as everything in nature is symmetrical . For early humans symmetrical shape would mean healthy plants, healthy person. An organism whose body is not symmetrical appears deformed, will be seen with caution . Human eyes look for exceptions out of ordinary. So is sense of beauty just an adaptive feature like why humans like fats, sweet and protein rich food.
Studies show human beings like sub tropical climate. We all like large open green grasslands with some trees and some indication of water, which indicates for plenty of birds and animals. Humans like open grasslands because these were the cradle grounds of humankind and even other intelligent beings which have gone extinct(Neanderthals). The landscapes of The Savannas and The Steppes. This landscape can be seen on calendars, movies even Microsoft wall papers. This landscape is liked by people whose country does not have these open green landscapes . The idea that large open green spaces are good for habitation is embedded in our DNA since ages. But all these clouds, landscapes, rivers are natural beauty. What about “Artistic Beauty”?
Artistic Beauty and Humanities
Art is as older than homo sapiens!
Oldest known cave paintings are more than 44000 year old and surprisingly found in both France and Indonesia.
Paintings as old as 64000(Matravesieo) years and 52000 (lubang jerji saleh) years have been found in Spain and Indonesia but they are non figurative.
Interestingly paint making kits older then 100,000 years have been Blombos cave South Africa
Artistic make up and necklace as old as 100,000 years have been found (Croatian Neanderthal Jewelry – 135,000 Years ,Nassarius Shell Beads – 100,000–75,000 Years )
But what is the oldest artifact
The oldest artifact
The oldest artifact found is 1.4 million years ago, which means it was not made by humans or Neanderthals, it was made by Australopithicus or maybe other apes.
The oldest artifact is The Acheulean Handaxes
Acheulean Handaxes are pearl, tear drop shaped stones very nicely cut. Initially when they were found Saint Acheul they were thought to be used for cutting trees or as a weapon. However in modern times the findings acheulean hand axes in very large number and different shapes and sizes all over Europe, Asia and Africa indicate that there use might be different from cutting. More evidence is given by the fact that there is no wear and tear on their surface which would have resulted if they were used for cutting trees or weapons. Modern archaeologists now say that these handaxes are infact first pieces of symbolic art. These handaxes must be showpieces just like a peacock’s feathers. Knowing how to create and use these tools would have been a valuable skill and the more elaborate ones suggest that they played a role in their owners’ identity and their interactions with others. This also explains why people with specialised skills always hold prominent places in society. The owner of these handaxes would symbolise workmanship , sense of symmetry and intelligence which would attract people towards him and even improve his chances of getting possible partners. Displays and show off are human characteristics. We like to display our achievements.
Artistic beauty in tells us 7 qualities present in the artist-
1. Desire – this person follows his heart
2. Intelligence – Person has great learning and thinking
3. Fine motor control- mind, body and soul are fine tune
5. Access to materials- artist has grasp on his environment or can manage difficult things
4. Planning ability – mind mapping skills, can see future
6. Great skills – Beauty itself is testament for skills
7. Creative conscience – Artist always have free, liberal, creative and out of the box thinking
Why beauty is important ?
As we developed we shaped our environment according to our needs. We removed large open spaces and put up concrete structures. Neglecting nature we build compact boxes, dull space saving boxes.
Studies show human beings like art and beauty. Surroundings aesthetically pleasing to us improve our health. Patients recover faster in new and open space centred rooms as compared to old ,basic rooms.
In developed countries besides good health and harmonious family life, beauty was also regarded as important feature to good life.
Lastly, is beauty in mind of beholder? No it is deep in our mind, a precious gift from our ancestors. We find beauty in something done well and it uplifts our mood and makes us more productive. Beauty really is a joy forever, Epic and legends are immortal, artistic beauty is great but we should also be content with what we have and experience the beauty of small things that fill our day. Because beauty can only be felt when we respective it. Beauty has so many beholders, so many interpretations and beauty is universal. However one should respect other’s perspective and interpretations because beauty is a gift and one should see this world through positive outlook. External beauty is nothing just a very machine like filter there is far more beautiful things one should look for which are human values – kindness, honesty, responsibility and ethics.
”Beauty is not in the face, beauty is light in the heart” – Khalil Gibran