Primitive culture. Features of primitive culture

Primitive culture. Features of primitive culture
Primitive culture. Features of primitive culture

Primitive culture is the most ancient type of civilization that has defined human life throughout history. Despite the fact that modern scientists have many different artifacts that allow us to find out the approximate dates of their appearance, it has not yet been possible to determine the time frame for the existence of a caveman. It is only known that the era under consideration is the longest, since some tribes still live in the corresponding system. They are common in Africa and South America.


Among all practical knowledge, medicine, oddly enough, was the first area to which the caveman turned his attention. This is proved by rock paintings, which depict various animals with the structure of their body, skeleton, location of internal organs, and so on. In the process of taming cattle, this knowledge was used in treatment or, for example, in cooking.

As for the use of medicine to improve people's he alth, here the culture of primitive man did not allow this until the Mesolithic era. Ancient burials prove that already in those days it was possible to put a cast or amputate a limb. Wherein,of course the man was still alive. But ancient people could not attribute such actions to mere mortals, medicine seemed to them something divine. Therefore, all doctors were considered saints, they became shamans and oracles with all kinds of benefits and respect.


When the Paleolithic era arrived, cavemen began to acquire mathematical knowledge. They were usually used in the division of booty or the distribution of duties. Evidence of this is, for example, a spear found on the territory of modern Czech Republic, where there are 20 notches, distributed in equal proportions into 4 parts. This means that even then people could perform the most simple arithmetic operations.

taylor primitive culture

In the Neolithic, the culture of the primitive world was replenished with other knowledge - geometric. First, a person draws the corresponding figures on rocks or various products. Then he proceeds to the construction of dwellings of regular geometric shapes. This, of course, had a positive effect on the comfort of life.


Myth in primitive culture has become a way of understanding the world around us, and if it did not appear, then it is unlikely that a person could grow up to modern cultural heights. Any action, natural or weather, was not perceived by people in the order of things, everything that happened had a certain magical connotation. It was impossible to explain, for example, rain from a scientific point of view: if it started, then some higher beings wanted it that way.

For primitive man, myths were somethingsomething special. Only with their help could he move on to the next stage of development. Ancient mythology had several features:

  • The first myths helped people get used to many external events, and they were created by logical and abstract associations.
  • Mythology could prove the occurrence of events.
  • Myths didn't just appear. They were compiled on the basis of emotional, weather, natural and any other patterns.
  • Mythology was passed down from generation to generation, it was a kind of theory from ancestors that helped to survive, create comfort or get food. Therefore, it cannot be called an individual creation, each myth appeared as a result of collective experience within the framework of one primitive community.
  • Myths contributed to self-expression, not without their help various types of art appeared.
features of primitive culture

Gradually, the caveman moved away from myths, and then the first religious beliefs appeared. At first they were similar to each other, then more and more individualized.

Varieties of primitive religions

All features of primitive culture are not only in beliefs. Over time, the tribes gain the necessary amount of knowledge and experience, so they can move on to a new stage, which consists in the formation of religions, the first of which were already in the Paleolithic. Some events that happened to people, they have already learned to explain, but others still had a magical character for them. Then there is the belief that somesupernatural forces can affect the outcome of a hunt or other important event.

Primitive culture includes several religions shown in the table below.

Primal beliefs

Name Definition Description
Totemism The belief that the genus originated from an animal (totem) The totem animal became the protector of the clan, they prayed to him and asked him, for example, to bring good luck during the hunt. Under no circumstances should the sacred beast be killed.
Fetishism The belief that inanimate objects have supernatural powers Any thing could be used as a fetish, in modern times this role is played by talismans and amulets. People believed that the amulet could bring good luck, protect against the attacks of wild animals. An important feature is that the amulet was always carried with them, it was placed in the grave along with the owner.
Magic The belief that one can influence the environment or events with the help of conspiracies, divination or rituals As primitive people believed, various conspiracies or rituals could, for example, cause rain, crush enemies, help in hunting, and so on.

After them comes a belief called animism. According to him, man had his own soul. After his death, she flew away in search of a new "vessel". It was believed that often she could not find the shell, and then she began to annoy the relatives of the deceased in the form of a ghost.

achievements of primitive culture

Animism can be said to be the progenitor of all modern religions, since the afterlife already appears here, some kind of deity that rules over all souls, both with and without a shell, as well as the first funeral rituals. It was from this belief that the tradition began not to leave deceased relatives, but to see them off with all honors.

The beginnings of literary art

If we consider such a large-scale era as primitive culture, briefly, it will be difficult to reveal the topic of the literature of that time. It was not possible to fix the appearance of the first works, because then there was no written language. And the existence of various tales or legends has not been scientifically proven.

However, if you look at the rock paintings, you get the impression that a person clearly understood what he wanted to convey to his descendants. Accordingly, a certain legend had previously formed in his head. It is believed that the beginnings of literary art appeared precisely in primitive times. Only through oral tales could one or another myth be passed on to the next generation.

Fine arts

Primitive artistic culture developed quite rapidly. Moreover, its significance was higher than in modern times. This is due to the fact that a person then could not write and express everything that he thinks about in words. Therefore, the only opportunity for communication was only the fine arts. With its help, by the way, various teachings arose, including mathematics andmedicine.

It is likely that the primitive culture did not perceive drawings as art. With their help, people, for example, could receive the blessing of their totem animal by depicting it inside their home. They did not mark the decorative role of the drawings in any way, and made them only to convey knowledge, indicate their faith, and so on.

primitive culture briefly

Animals were often painted in primitive culture. People depicted animals or their separate parts on various surfaces. The fact is that the whole life of that time revolved around hunting. And if the miners of the community stopped bringing game, then it is unlikely that a person could survive.

There is another feature of rock art. Primitive artists did not see proportions. They could draw a huge mountain goat, next to which is a tiny mammoth. The understanding of proportions appeared much later and not in the primitive system. Also, the animals were not depicted standing, they were always in motion (running or jumping).

Artisans appear

All the achievements of primitive culture can be considered minimal compared to what the artisans managed to do. People of that time acted collectively, if they learned something, they could not reach a high professional level. But with the beginning of agriculture, the situation changed, artisans appeared, who all their lives were engaged in one specific business, honing their skills. So, some made spears, the second hunted game, the third grew plants, the fourth couldtreat and so on.

primitive culture

Gradually, people began to think about the exchange. Communities began to take shape differently than before, when blood ties were the main criterion for choosing a place to live. Farmers stopped where there were fertile soils, weapons manufacturers - near primitive quarries or mines, potters - where there was strong clay. The hunters, on the other hand, never remained in one place, they moved depending on the migrations of animals.

In order for each of these communities to get what it lacks, people began to change things. Some gave others dishes or totemic talismans, in return they received vegetables, others changed tools for meat. Over time, this was the reason for the formation of cities, and later - full-fledged countries or states.


The entire primitive system is divided into several periods. This happens on the basis of the materials that were used in the production of tools at one time or another. The first and longest is the Stone Age. It, in turn, is also divided into several stages: Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. At this time, the formation of man takes place, art, mythology are born, tools are produced and improved.

After the development of metal, the features of primitive culture underwent a significant transformation. With the discovery of copper, the Eneolithic, or Copper Stone Age, begins. Now people are mastering crafts and exchange, because metal processing requires knowledge that only those who had sufficientthe amount of time to develop your skills.

prehistoric culture

After copper, bronze is discovered, which actually immediately displaces copper, since it is much harder. The Bronze Age is coming. The first societies appear where there is a division into classes, but it cannot be argued that this did not happen before. Also around this time, the first cities and states were formed.

With the discovery of iron and its properties, the Iron Age begins. Not all tribes of that time could mine and process this metal, so some territories go far ahead in their development. Further, it was impossible to call the era primitive, a new one began, but not all states were able to enter it.

It is worth noting that during each of the periods, the use of other materials in production is allowed. They received their names only in accordance with the predominance of the raw materials used.

Taylor's Common Reflections on Primitive Culture

A great contribution to modern knowledge was made by the English ethnographer, who was very interested in primitive culture. Taylor E. B. published a book in which he described in detail all his thoughts, naturally, confirming them with facts. For example, he was one of the first to point out that the societies of that time developed extremely slowly for one simple reason. It lies in the absence of writing. People did not have the opportunity to accumulate and transmit information in the way that a modern person can do. And everyone learned about something new from their own experience, which,by the way, often repeated in another society or community.

There are several more assumptions about why primitive culture developed so slowly. Taylor suggested that this was not only due to the lack of writing. Cavemen learned to live, their experience often became deadly. However, after such sad mistakes, the whole community began to understand that something could not be done. Consequently, acting on the pattern hindered development, people were simply afraid to try to do otherwise.

primitive culture

Many historians do not share the theory that in primitive society there was a division into social systems. However, Taylor thought otherwise. Those who improved their ritual knowledge occupied a special position in the community, they were respected and often presented with an additional portion of food or more comfortable and safe housing.

Famous work

If we consider such an era as primitive culture, briefly, then we can take virtually any territory of the planet as a basis. This is due to the fact that initially all societies that have ever appeared in the world developed approximately the same way. Taylor in his book "Primitive Culture" described many events of that time, and he confirmed every word of his with facts, whether it was the finds of archaeologists or the first mythological writings.

According to Tylor, primitive culture in modern times is too much underestimated. Moreover, many people today believe that that era was wild. This is true, but only in part. If at the momenta person considers a rough-hewn ax that helped in the hunt for a mammoth as the product of a clumsy craftsman, then he hardly thinks about what would have happened if the ancient hunter had not taken this product in his hands.

The culture of the primitive era is interesting for research. Despite the fact that many scientists have paid their close attention to it, there remains an infinite number of unsolved and unproven points. There are only assumptions and hypotheses. In fact, no one can say for sure that this or that rock drawing unambiguously meant a specific event or action. The primeval era is as mysterious as many other things that cannot be explained today, even with today's brilliant minds and technologies.

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