Art History - Anthro

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By KovoWolf

Anthro Art - The Beginning

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to non-human beings, objects, natural, or supernatural phenomena. Gods, animals, the forces of nature, and unseen or unknown authors of chance are frequent subjects of anthropomorphosis. The term comes from two Greek words, άνθρωπος (anthrōpos), meaning "human," and μορφή (morphē), meaning "shape" or "form." The suffix "-ism" originates from the morpheme "-isma" in the Greek language. .[1]

The actual 'date' when Anthropomorphic art came to light isn't well documented so we can only go off what has been left behind for us to observe. This is most noted in literature, sculptures and fables.


From the beginnings of human behavioral modernity in the Upper Paleolithic, about 40,000 years ago, examples of zoomorphic (animal-shaped) works of art occur that may represent the earliest evidence we have of anthropomorphism [3] in art, culture and expression. One of the oldest known is an ivory sculpture, the Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel, Germany, a human-shaped figurine with a lion's head, determined to be about 32,000 years old.

As we progress through history anthropomorphism in art becomes more abundant as fables, tales and expression begin to envelope the human culture. We see images carved out from the great Egyptian Gods to the Celtic tales of old that depict walking rabbits, frogs and dogs.

We have a natural connection to animals and one could speculate as to why we would combine our attributes and characteristics to animals. This was highly projected into stories and fables for young children to appreciate.

Literature and Fables - Where It Begins

Stories have been passed on from generation to generation. They tell of great adventures, odd and lovely characters and usually projects some sort of meaning behind it.

Anthropomorphism, sometimes referred to as personification, is a well established literary device from ancient times. It extends back to before Aesop's Fables[4] in 6th century BC Greece and the collections of linked fables from India, the Jataka Tales and Panchatantra, which employ anthropomorphised animals to illustrate principles of life. Many of the stereotypes of animals that are recognised today, such as the wiley fox and the proud lion, can be found in these collections. Aesop's anthropomorphisms were so familiar by the 1st century AD that they coloured the thinking of at least one philosopher:

And there is another charm about him, namely, that he puts animals in a pleasing light and makes them interesting to mankind. For after being brought up from childhood with these stories, and after being as it were nursed by them from babyhood, we acquire certain opinions of the several animals and think of some of them as royal animals, of others as silly, of others as witty, and others as innocent.
- Apollonius of Tyana [3]

Anthropomorphic motifs have been common in fairy tales from the earliest ancient examples set in a mythological context to the great collections of the Brothers Grimm and Perrault. The Tale of Two Brothers (Egypt, 13th century BC) features several talking cows and in Cupid and Psyche (Rome, 2nd century AD) Zephyrus, the west wind, carries Psyche away. Later an ant feels sorry for her and helps her in her quest.

Modern Literature With the popularity of fables in our early past it paved the way for some great inspiration on future publications such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by Carlo Collodi and The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling, all employing anthropomorphic elements. This continued in the 20th century with many of the most popular titles having anthropomorphic charactersAlice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by Carlo Collodi and The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling, all employing anthropomorphic elements. This continued in the 20th century with many of the most popular titles having anthropomorphic characters.

With this, the fantasy genre expanded to new heights and stories. The best-selling examples of the genre are The Hobbit[19] (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955), both by J. R. R. Tolkien, books peopled with talking creatures such as ravens, spiders and the dragon Smaug and a multitude of anthropomorphic goblins and elves.The best-selling examples of the genre are The Hobbit[19] (1937) and The Lord of the Rings[20] (1954–1955), both by J. R. R. Tolkien, books peopled with talking creatures such as ravens, spiders and the dragon Smaug and a multitude of anthropomorphic goblins and elves.
Tolkien saw this anthropomorphism as closely linked to the emergence of human language and myth
"...The first men to talk of 'trees and stars' saw things very differently. To them, the world was alive with mythological beings... To them the whole of creation was "myth-woven and elf-patterned 3]

Film Television

1920's - Present The most noted examples of Anthropomoprhic characters in Film and Television is Walt Disney characters. This includes Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, The Brave Little Toaster, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and Bugs Bunny and more.

The Family guy, Brian, shows many human characteristics, such as the ability to walk upright and talk. However he also acts like a normal dog in other ways, for example he cannot resist chasing a ball.[3]
The Brave Little Toaster by enigmawing Brian from Family Guy by Fruksion Simba - The Lion King by nikkigal88

1960's - 1996Since the 1960s, anthropomorphism has also been represented in various animated TV shows such as Biker Mice From Mars (1993-1996) and SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (1993-1995). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, first aired in 1987, features four pizza-loving anthropomorphic turtles with a great knowledge of ninjutsu, led by their anthropomorphic rat sensei, Master Splinter. [3]
MICE BIKERS FROM MARS by nachomolina Swat-Kats: Vindication 02 by Amosis:thumb121465691:

Anthropomorphism Outside of "Art"

The "Fur Fandom" "A Furry" is a term invented by a group of people who have many levels of interest in the personification of animals. If the anthropomorhised thing happens to be an animal that has fur....people of this state of mind assume it is "a furry." People who say they are "a furry" associate with what is called the furry fandom. The "Furry Fandom" is used to describe a social group of people with certain characteristics and traits involving Anthro art and expressing it through visual means. For example, artists or enthusiasts dress up like their beloved characters. It isn't strictly limited to characters, however, as others just like to express themselves and their love for animals by adorning themselves in related clothes or props. Everyone expresses their passions differently!
All the Right Friends by xBashtonx Bubo the Owl Partial by JakeJynx:thumb285003690:

Projecting Human Nature Onto Nature Anthropomorphism extends beyond the medium of art and seeps into the natural world in which we live in. This is where we, as humans, take the context of art and our expression of it and apply it to real things in the world such as animals.

Humans are a compassionate, emotional and intelligent being. We tend to project our emotions onto animals and the study and observations of them.

The study of great apes in their own environment has changed attitudes to anthropomorphism, as an example.[2] In the 1960s the three so-called "Leakey's Angels", Jane Goodall studying chimpanzees, Dian Fossey studying gorillas and Biruté Galdikas studying orangutangs, were all accused of "that worst of ethological sins" anthropomorphism"..[2] The change was brought about by their descriptions of the great apes in the field; it is now more widely accepted that empathy has an important part to play in research. As Frans de Waal writes:
"To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us.".[2]


© 2012 - 2021 KovoWolf
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Sausagewolf's avatar
You incredible person you. I'm super glad I found this I literally just started my A2 Art project in college and I've chosen to do it on Anthropomorphism omg this is super helpful
KovoWolf's avatar
Excellent! I hope that you find it very helpful! :love:
EHH123's avatar
I notice that before the 20th century, anthropomorphic animals were usually depicted as regular animals awkwardly put on two legs and wearing clothes or as human with animal heads. It wasn't until the 1900s-1920s that artists really started mixing together animal and human anatomy.
Ionosphere-Negate's avatar
IMO, "personification" is a bullshit term, since emotions are just responses to an event. They don't have to be present for said event to take place.
"Jim hurt the rock" - in that case you might as well be able to say "Jim degraded the structural integrity of the rock". We all know that both of these statements have the same meaning; the only difference is that the rock makes no response, other than your typical Newtonian reactions. Maybe the rock did not "feel" it, but the rock is nonetheless violently changed from it's original structure.

Yeah, mixing the characteristics of any and many things is what creates the new world. From basic synthetic fibers to massive super-computers, like the Roadrunner. Just recently a prototype chip has been created that emulates carbon-based neural synapses.

Scientific taboo? Really??? ROFL :rofl:! And now you know why I hate the 'modern' scientific 'community' ;). They can't get their heads out their asses :roll:.

Other than that, it really is a form of Artificial Evolution :lol:.
KovoWolf's avatar
Personification is just describing how we tend to project attribution of human characteristics to things, abstract ideas, and in this case Anthropomorphic beings or things.

Pretty sweet about the prototype chip :) and as far as "modern scientific" community is concerned yea, I don't personally agree with a lot of things being thrown around by certain people.

It's been an interesting controversy in the community surrounding the idea that animals, plants and the like have 'emotions' or feelings like humans. Human's projecting their characteristics fully onto animals and thinking they're just like us in that respect. While they have their own unique way of communicating and expressing their emotions, it isn't expressed exactly how we would 'express it', as humans. If that makes sense lol

And I am not sure as to what you are referring to as far as "artificial evolution"? Feelings and emotions? or the scientific taboo? (:

Sorry, feeling a bit under the weather so if this seems like a jumble of who knows what, I apologize in advance lol. I'm sure I'll re-read over this and go "what... was I saying..."
Ionosphere-Negate's avatar
I know, but in some cases it's not really an applicable term. Animals with smaller brain capacity than ourselves just have very broad personalities. They aren't very complex. The more powerful the brain, the typically more complex the creature is, emotionally and intellectually. But I guess you answer this later.

Oh, and don't get me or *Steamstrike started on schools :lol:.

Sure, I see what you are saying.

Artifical Evolution means evolution without the typical Darwinian crap. Genetic modification is a perfect example. In fact, it's Exhibit A :lol:.

Ishiki ^w^.
KovoWolf's avatar
I know what Artificial evolution is ;) I just wasn't sure as to what you where applying it to in your previous comment
Sayuri14's avatar
Omg, this will help me so much with my college essays! Specially anthrophormism, i need articles like this for me knowledge collection :)
KovoWolf's avatar
No problem at all :) Make sure you site your sources ^^
Sayuri14's avatar
Of course I will, and thank you again :)
henganskater's avatar
thx for educate :D
Kyndevhi's avatar
This was excellently put together. Very, very nicely done! =D
KovoWolf's avatar
Thank you very much! :)
Kyndevhi's avatar
Why of course. :dance:
Sogaroth's avatar
This is very well written and researched. It could be used as a type of thesis.
Very nice work.
KovoWolf's avatar
Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it :heart: Always good to source your resources :)
BlackMoonGang's avatar
Amazingly well done!
KovoWolf's avatar
BlackMoonGang's avatar
Ur welcome. Seriously, this is one of the est articles on Anthro i've ever read.
KovoWolf's avatar
BlackMoonGang's avatar
You should try sending this to a newspapaer. Maybe it'd do the difference.
KovoWolf's avatar
;) It would be interesting to see how this would go at say an Anthro Convention :)
BlackMoonGang's avatar
Oh, i bet it'd give the Anthro community a huge energy boost, so to speak.
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