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.


“A Comparative Study of Motives in Western Chinese Folk Embroideries” 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, vol. XXXVI (270-292), (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.