Abstract

When walking in the fields by his home, Henry David Thoreau would look for arrowheads to bring him closer to the life of the "red man." On a visit to a friend, Thoreau was shown a piece of pottery that had a bird's head carved in the handle. Thoreau was so moved by this example of ornamentation for the sake of beauty that he wrote in his journal, "It is affecting as a work of art by a people who have left so few traces of themselves, a step beyond the common arrowhead." He then begins to imagine the actual artist, writing, "he ha[d] begun to leave behind him war and even hunting, --to redeem himself from the savage state." And in a thoughtful musing he writes, "Enough of this would have saved him from extermination."

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