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NEGRITOS (Span. for " little negroes ")

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 344 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NEGRITOS (Span. for " little negroes "), the name originally given by the Spaniards to the aborigines of the Philippine Islands. They are physical weaklings, of low, almost dwarf, stature, with very dark skin, closely curling hair, flat noses, thick lips and large clumsy feet. The term has, however, been more generally applied to one of the great ethnic groups into which the population of the East Indies is divided, and to an apparently kindred race in Africa (see NEGRO). A. de Quatrefages suggests that from the parent negroid stem were thrown off two negrito branches to the west and east, the Indo-Oceanic and African, and that the Akkas, Wochuas, Batwas and Bushmen of the Dark Continent are kinsmen of the Andaman Islanders, the Sakais of the Malay Peninsula and the Aetas of the Philippines. This view has found much acceptance among ethnologists. The result of Quatrefages's theory would be to place the negrito races closest to the primitive human type, a conclusion apparently justified by their physical characteristics. The true negritos are always of little stature (the majority under 5 ft.), have rounded forms and their skull is brachycephalic or subbrachycephalic, that is to say, it is relatively short and broad and of little height. Their skin is dark brown or black, sometimes somewhat yellowish, their hair woolly (scanty on face and body), and they have the flat nose and thick lips and other physical features of the negro. Among peoples undoubtedly negrito are those of the Andaman Islands (q.v.), the Malay Peninsula (q.v.) and some of the Philippines (q.v.), the best types being the Sakais (q.v.), Mincopies and Aetas. The question of the so-called negrito races of India, the Oraons, Gonds, &c., is in much dispute, Quatrefages believing the Indian aborigines to have been negritos, while other ethnologists find the primitive people of Hindustan in the Dravidian races. Some authorities have placed the Veddahs of Ceylon among the negritos, but their straight hair and dolichocephalic skulls are sufficient arguments against their inclusion. The negrito is often confounded with the Papuan; but the latter, though possessing the same woolly hair and being of the same colour, is a large, often muscular man, with a long, high skull. See A. de Quatrefages, Les Pygmies (Paris, 1887; Eng. trans. 1895) ; E. H. Man, The Aborigines of the Andaman Islands (London, 1885) ; Giglioli, Nuove notizie sui populi negroidi dell' Asia e specialmente sui Negriti (Florence, 1879); Meyer, Album von Philippinen-Typen (Dresden, 1885) ; Blumentritt, Ethnographie der Philippinen (Gotha, 1892); A. B. Meyer, Die Negritos (Dresden, 1899); A. H. Keane, Ethnology; A. C. Haddon in Nature for September 1899. NEGRO less platyrrhine and less dark. A few tribes in the heart of the negro domain (the Welle district of Belgian Congo) show a tendency to round head, shorter stature and fairer complexion; but there seems reason to suppose that they have received an infusion of Libyan (or less probably Hamitic) or Negrito blood. The colour of the skin, which is also distinguished by a velvety surface and a characteristic odour, is due not to the presence of any special pigment, but to the greater abundance of the colouring matter in the Malpighian mucous membrane between the inner or true skin and the epidermis or scarf skin .2 This colouring matter is not distributed equally over the body, and does not reach its fullest development until some weeks after birth; so that new-born babies are a reddish chocolate or copper colour. But excess of pigmentation is not confined to the skin; spots of pigment are often found in some of the internal organs, such as the liver, spleen, &c. Other characteristics appear to be a hypertrophy of the organs of excretion, a more developed venous system, and a less voluminous brain, as compared with the white races. In certain of the characteristics mentioned above the negro would appear to stand on a lower evolutionary plane than the white man, and to be more closely related to the highest anthropoids. The characteristics are length of arm, prognathism, a heavy massive cranium with large zygomatic arches, flat nose depressed at base, &c. But in one important respect, the character of the hair, the white man stands in closer relation to the higher apes than does the Negro. Mentally the negro is inferior to the white. The remark' of F. Manetta, made after a long study of the negro in America, may be taken as generally true of the whole race: " the negro children were sharp, intelligent and full of vivacity, but on approaching the adult period a gradual change set in. The intellect seemed to become clouded, animation giving place to a sort of lethargy, briskness yielding to indolence. We must necessarily suppose that the development of the negro and white proceeds on different lines. While with the latter the volume of the brain grows with the expansion of the brainpan, in the former the growth of the brain is on the contrary arrested by the premature closing of the cranial sutures and lateral pressure of the frontal boned This explanation is reasonable and even probable as a contributing cause; but evidence is lacking on the subject and the arrest or even deterioration in mental development is no doubt very largely due to the fact that after puberty sexual matters take the first place in the negro's life and thoughts. At the same time his environment has not been such as would tend to produce in him the restless energy which has led to the progress of the white race; and the easy conditions of tropical life and the fertility of the soil have reduced the struggle for existence to a minimum. But though the mental inferiority of the negro to the white or yellow races is a fact, it has often been exaggerated; the negro is largely the creature of his environment, 2 It is also noteworthy that the dark colour seems to depend neither on geographical position, the isothermals of greatest heat, nor even altogether on racial purity. The extremes of the chromatic scale are found in juxtaposition throughout the whole negro domain, in Senegambia, the Gabun, upper Nile basin, lower Congo, Shari valley, Mozambique. In the last region M de Froberville determined the presence of thirty-one different shades from dusky or yellow-brown to sooty black. Some of the sub-negroid and mixed races, such as many Abyssinians, Galla, Jolof and Mandingo, are quite as black as the darkest full-blood negro. A general similarity in the outward conditions of soil, atmosphere, climate, food charged with an excess of carbon, such as the fruit of the butter-tree, and other undetermined causes have tended to develop a tendency towards dark shades every-where in the negro domain apart from the bias mainly due to an original stain of black blood. Perhaps the most satisfactory theory explains the excessive development of pigment in the dark-skinned races as a natural protection against the ultra-violet rays in which tropical light is so rich and which are destructive of protoplasm (see C. E. Woodruff, Tropical Light, London, tgog). The expression ` jet black " is applied by Schweinfurth to the upper-Nilotic Shilluk, Nuer and Dinka, while the neighbouring Bongo and Mittu are de-scribed as of a " red-brown " colour " like the soil upon which they reside " (Heart of Africa, vol. i. ch. iv.). 2 La Razza Negra nel suo stato selvaggio, &c. (Turin, 1864), p. zo.
End of Article: NEGRITOS (Span. for " little negroes ")
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