Carl Schuster (1904-1969)

CarlSchuster 1937 crop

Because of Carl Schuster‘s influential, and under-recognized contributions to anthropology, Edmund Carpenter dedicated more than two decades editing and publishing a selection of Schuster’s vast archive of writings, images and field-collected data, particularly on the subject of genealogical patterns found in traditional designs from across the globe.

While much of Schuster’s most important ideas are covered in Carpenter’s 12-volume survey, we realize that it is very difficult to obtain copies of Schuster’s own published writings in a centralized source. To remedy this, we have gathered some sample publications and related data pertaining to Carl Schuster. For a complete bibliography, please see the Carl Schuster page on Wikipedia.


“Genealogical Patterns in the Old and New Worlds.” Revista Do Museu Paulista, Nova Série, vol. X (1956/58), São Paulo, Brazil. 

Genealogical patterns in the old and new worlds

Schuster’s magnum opus in which he outlines his discovery of an ancient system for depicting genealogical relationships using linked human figures. This system has been mislabeled “geometric art” and appears worldwide in the art forms of many peoples. It may be 80,000 years old and represents the earliest symbolic system humans have created, aside from language.


“A Perennial Puzzle: The Motive of Three Fish with a Common Head,” Art and Thought (Festschrift for Ananda K. Coomaraswamy), Luzac & Co., London, (1947), pp. 116–125.

A Perennial Puzzle

Study of an unusual design motif of three fish with a shared head and related motifs.


“Comparative Studies of Certain Motifs in Cotton Embroideries from Western China” Monumenta Serica, vol. 2, fasc. 1, (1936), Peking. Republished in RES magazine, Autumn, 1993.

Comparative Motifs RES 24

An older work examining the symbolism underlying certain motifs found in Chinese embroideries and their history and distribution.


“A Prehistoric Symbol in Modern Chinese Folk Art” Man: A Monthly Record of Anthropological Science, vol. XXXVI (270-292), Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, (Dec. 1936), pp. 201–203.

Water Symbol

An early study of the water symbol and the tree of life motif in Chinese art.


The Ainu Inao; Some Comparative Considerations,” Proceedings, VIIIth Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Tokyo and Kyoto, Science Council of Japan (1968), pp. 86–98.

Shaved Sticks

A brief study of the “inao” or shaved sticks of the Ainu and their relationship to other shaved sticks and to stacked ancestor figures.


“Skin and Fur Mosaics from Early Prehistoric Times to Modern Survivals,” Actes du VIe Congrès International des Sciences Anthropologiques et Ethnologiques, Paris (1960), tome II, pp. 631–632

Skin and Fur Mosaics


“A Survival of the Eurasiatic Animal Style in Modern Alaskan Eskimo Art.” Indian Tribes of Aboriginal America, edited by Sol Tax, pp. 35–45, University of Chicago Press, 1952.

Eurasiatic Animal Style

A study of comparisons between modern Eskimo design and a ancient animal motive style from Eurasia


“A Unique Wooden Figure from Ancient Mexico.” American Antiquity, vol. 15, no. 1, 1949, pp. 57–61.

Unique Wooden Figure

Description of a wood-carved item from the Mexican Antiquities Collection at the Ethnographical Museum in Vienna, Austria


“An Ancient Chinese Mirror Design Reflected in Modern Melanesian Art,” The Far Eastern Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 1, (Nov. 1951), pp. 52–66.

Ancient Chinese Mirror

A study of artistic comparisons between contemporary Melanesian artifacts and ancient Bronze-Age Far East Art with ten items.


“Designs Incised on Pearl Shell from Northwestern Australia and Tanimbar,” Mankind, vol. IV, Sydney, (1951), pp. 219–220.

Designs Incised on Pearl

Article about the similarities in “Key” or “Meander” design patterns between two items originating from the Timor Sea region.


“Human Figures in South American Petroglyphs and Pictograph as Excerpts from Repeating Patterns,” Anales del Museo de Historia Natural, 2nd series, vol. 4 no. 6, Montivideo, Uruguay (1955), pp. 1-13.

Human Figures

A study of pattern designs from Petroglyphs and Pictographs as they appear on South American architecture and cultural items


Schuster, Carl, and O. H. MYERS. “MODERN PARALLELS FOR ANCIENT EGYPTIAN TATTOOING.” Sudan Notes and Records, vol. 29, no. 1, 1948, pp. 71–77. 

Ancient Egyptian Tattooing

A description of similarities of tattooed markings from people groups in the the Pacific region and NE Africa


Review Work(s): “Objets rituels, croyances et dieux de la Chine antique et de l’Amérique by CARL HENTZE” (1936) Reviewed by Schuster, Carl. Monumenta Serica, vol. 4, no. 1, 1939, pp. 355–359.

Objets Rituels

A review of Carl Hentze’s book, which investigates mythological symbolism examples from the Far East and the New World


Schuster, Carl. ” 27. Observations on the Painted Designs of Patagonian Skin Robes”. Essays in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 1961.

Patagonian Skin Robes

An examination of modern traditional cultural designs and their relation to prehistoric motifs, seeing how they may have some bearing on Tehuelche Designs first described by Dr. Samuel K. Lothrop in his 1929 essay


Schuster, Carl. “Pottery Vessels from South America in the Form of a Double-Headed Human Figures,” Folk, vol. 8/9, Copenhagen (1967), pp. 315–324.

Pottery Vessels

A look at double-headed vessels from a few museums in western South America, examining a possible homogeneous cultural tradition in the area


“Prehistoric Stone Objects from New Guinea the Solomons,” Mankind, vol. III, No. 9, Sydney, Australia, (July 1946), pp. 247–251.

Prehistoric Stone Objects

Article about specific objects within the New Guinea collection at the Chicago Natural History Museum


“Relations of a Chinese Embroidery Design: Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Southeast Asia (the Dongson Culture) and Melanesia.” Early Chinese Art and its Possible Influence in the Pacific Basin, edited by Noel Barnard and Douglas Fraser, vol. II, pp. 243–290, N.Y., 1972.

Chinese Embroidery Design

A study of Chinese and Eastern European decorative cultural artifacts towards a possible historical correspondence and common ancestral design practice


“Some Artistic Parallels between Tanimbar, the Solomon Islands and Polynesia,” Cultureel Indië, vol. 8, Leiden, (1946), pp. 1–8.

Tanimbar, the Solomon Islands, and Polynesia

An examination of artistic analogies to highlight the various island cultures of the Oceana region


“Some Comparative Considerations about Western Asiatic Carpet Designs,” Artibus Asiae, vol. IX, Ascona, Switzerland, (1946), pp. 68–92.

Western Asiatic Carpet Designs

A study into a number of examples of Western Asian carpet designs from around the 13th to 19th century


Schuster, Carl. “Some Peasant Embroideries from Western China,” Embroidery Magazine, London September 1935, pp. 88-89.

Peasant Embroideries

An article report about embroidery design examples from areas within the Western provinces of China that are described in detail.


“Stitch-Resist Dyed Fabrics of Western China,” Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club, vol. 32, New York, (1948), pp. 10–29.

Stitched-Resist Dyed Fabrics

A description of “resist-dyeing” techniques employed with most of the local-level fabric development in Western China


“The Bird with S-Curves in Southwestern China,” Artibus Asiae, vol. IX, no. 4 (1946), pp. 321–322.

Bird with S-Curves

Report providing more support for the use of S-Curve and bird designs with fabrics found in SW China


“The Triumphant Equestrian,” Monumenta Serica, vol. II, fasc. 2 (1937), Peking, pp. 437–440.

Triumphant Equestrian

Report providing some material support for the possible historical culture link of Greek Island embroidery design to inner-Asiatic and specifically Turkish influences


“V-Shaped Chest Markings: Distribution of a Design Motive in and around the Pacific,” Anthropos, vol. 47, Fribourg, Switzerland (1952), pp. 99–118.

V-Shaped Chest Markings

Study about a certain type of design-motive on the body which occurs in traditional cultures on both sides of the Pacific and in the intervening Oceanic