1902 Encyclopedia > Drama > Drama of the Rest of Asia, Middle East, Oceania and the New World

(Part 5)

Drama of the Rest of Asia, Middle East, Oceania and the New World

No traces of a drama exist in any of the other civilized peoples of Asia—for that Siam may probably be regarded as a branch of the Indian. Among the Hebrews and other Semitic peoples, as well as in at least one originally Aryan people of Asia which has cultivated letters with assiduity and success—the Persian—the dramatic art is either wanting, or only appears as an occasional and exotic growth. It is unnecessary to dwell on the dramatic element apparent in two of the books of the Hebrew Scripture—the Book of Ruth and the Book of Job. Of the dramatic element in the religious rites of the Egyptian a word will be said immediately, ; meanwhile it may be convenient at once to state that trace s of dramatic entertainments have been found in various parts of the New World, which it cannot be part of the present sketch to pursue. Among these are the performances, accompanied by dancing and intermixed with recitation and singing, of the South-Sea Islanders, first described by Captain Cook, and lately reintroduced to the notice of students of comparative mythology by Mr W. Wyatt Gill. Of the so-called Inca drama of the Peruvians, to unique relic, Apu Ollantay, said to have been written down in the Quichua tongue from native dictation by Spanish priests shortly after the conquest of Peru, has been translated by Mr Clements Markham, and recently twice rendered into German verse. It appears to be an historic play of the heroic type, combining stirring incidents with a pathos finding expression in at least one lyric of some sweetness—the lament for the lost Collyar. With it maybe contrasted the ferocious Aztek dramatic ballet, Rabinal-Achi (translated by the Abb é de Bourbourh), of which the text seems rather a succession of warlike harangues than an attempt at dramatic treatment of character. But these are mere isolated curiosities.

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