In the same way, when our remote ancestors cremated the
dead, the ashes were deposited into the earth in sacramental pots of baked clay.
These pots inscribed with patterns performed a sacred function. The
pot became a vessel for the soul, as the body once was.
The clay was inscribed with ornament, which the spirit
could inhabit, since pattern belongs to the metaphysical world. As pottery lasts a long
time, the spirits remain close, perhaps waiting to be reborn, and might be honored meantime
as allies in the Otherworld.
The continuance of relationship between the living and the
dead was a universal preoccupation among ancient people. This explains
the function of primitive ornament on funerary urns. But what is the necessity of pattern
in every-day life; we seem to have forgotten the function of ornament.
People in tribal cultures seem better able to satisfy the innate need to decorate themselves and their
Look at nature, which used to be described as
"the Great Adornment". There we can see
that the language of decorative forms is universal to animals, birds, fishes, insects, plants,
minerals of all sorts. Al ofl these create patterns according to an imperative we have peculiarly
neglected. That language of ornament is the oldest form of language; yet we
seem to have lost the use of this primal tongue that unites all nature.