2022.09.06 - コミュニケーション学科  Ancient Expressionless Faces?

Have you ever wondered why the faces we see on ancient statues and in ancient paintings seem expressionless?

Can you discern any emotions from these two portrait paintings? It has been suggested that 90% of our communication is nonverbal and done mostly through the face.  Early prehistoric art shows a complete absence of interest in the face. Even in ancient literature there is very little description of the face.  In the Tale of Genji are there many passages describing facial features?  Common sense might suggest that this was just the style of our ancestors –  perhaps humans were more stoic in the past.

However, there is one theory proposed by Brener (2000) which is quite interesting to consider. His research suggests that the lack of detail in the human face in ancient art is because cognitively our ancestors were neither good at using their faces to show emotion or reading emotion.  Specifically, a lack of development in the right hemisphere of our brain meant that when we looked at a face. we could not process it holistically.  In other words, we could not see how all the features of our face (mouth, eyes, cheek muscle, etc.) could work together to express emotions.   For this reason, our ancestors did not show much interest in the face.  According to Brener it was from the 16th century on that art really started to capture the complexity of human face.