Chapter II Part One


In the explanations of the illustrations C (or Sk) = cephalic (or cranial) index; F = facial index; E = colour of eyes; H = colour of hair. But colouring is only stated when the illustration does not show it. Female skulls are indicated as such. In pictures of the living the name is only given when the subject is already fairly well known through other portraits.

In the case of all illustrations (in particular where no index numbers or other measurements are given) the racial designation refers only to those features which can be seen on the picture.

The illustrations are meant to be not so much statements about the subject portrayed, as examples showing the racial characteristics. Anthropology, as a social science, deals in general with the individual only in so far as he can be taken as representative of a group. The group is always the starting-point for anthropology.


THE Nordic race is tall, slender. The long legs contribute towards the stately height, which for the man averages about 1.74 metres. The form both of the whole body and of each of the limbs, as also that of the neck, hands, and feet, is one of strength combined with slenderness. The Nordic race is long-headed and narrow-faced. The cephalic index lies round about 75, the facial index is over 90. The much greater length of the head, compared with its breadth, is more specially due to the back of the head jutting far over the nape of the neck. The back of the head, too, is in general relatively compact, so that the Nordic shows an upper part of his neck above the coat collar, before the line of the head turns backwards. The Nordic head is often strikingly narrow about the temples, as though it were pressed in here from both sides. The face is narrow, with a fairly narrow forehead, narrow high-standing nose, and a narrow under jaw with an angularly-set, clear-cut chin.

Fig. 5 – Swedish Swimmer (by Bφrjeson), Nordic figure

Fig. 6 – English Officer, Nordic figure

The Nordic forehead shows (in the adult, less clearly in the woman) mounds above the eyes, standing out over the eyebrows, and following a more upward direction from the middle of the forehead outwards than the brows (which take a downward course).

The cast of features in the Nordic race has often a characteristically bold effect owing to the threefold break in the line of the profile: first at the flattish, backward-bent forehead, then at the high-bridged nose, straight or bending outwards, and lastly at the firm, sharp-cut chin. The fleshy parts help to give an impression of a narrow, clear-cut face. The line where the eyelids meet (from corner to corner of the eye) is horizontal, or rather droops slightly about the outer corners. The lips are mostly thin; the groove from nose to mouth is narrow and sharp-cut.

Figs. 7-10 – A Nordic skull, seen from the side, the front, the top, and behind, Sk, 70, F, 96.4

The skin of the Nordic race is rosy and fair; it allows the blood to glimmer through, and so it looks alive, often quite lustrous, and always rather cool, or fresh, 'like milk and blood.' The veins shine through (at least in youth) and show 'the blue blood.'

The hair is smooth and sleek or wavy in texture, in childhood it may be curly. Each hair is thin and soft and often 'like silk.' In colour it is fair, and, whether light or dark blond, always shows a touch of gold, or a reddish undertone. Nordic hair is best termed gold-blond, but it should be borne in mind that both the lighter (especially in childhood) and the darker (especially after childhood) blond hair is found.

In men and women who are light blond in youth there is often a later darkening to dark blond, or even to dark brown hair. This last case is probably to be explained on the supposition that with such persons inherited Nordic tendencies in hair-colouring are overlaid later by tendencies other than Nordic.

Red hair, in many cases, so long as it is reddish blond or golden-red, can be called Nordic. True carroty hair, however, must be held to be a phenomenon which (like Albinism) may be found in any race (Rutilism, Erythrism).

The beard in the Nordic race has curly or rippling blond to red-blond hair; it grows fairly thick.

The Nordic eye, that is, its iris, is blue, blue-grey, or grey. Although grey eyes are common in the East Baltic race, we must assume that they belong also to the Nordics, for they are found, too, in areas beyond the reach of any East Baltic strain. Nordic eyes often have something shining, something radiant about them. Their expression can grow hard, and generally has something decided about it, but a kindly though always decided expression is not seldom to be seen.

Fig. 11 – Sweden

Fig. 12 – Norway, E, brown, H, brown, C, 73.77, F, 100

Fig. 13 – Sweden

Fig. 14 – Norway

Fig. 15 – Sweden

Fig. 16 – Norway

Nordic Gallery One

Nordic Gallery Two

Nordic Gallery Three

Nordic Gallery Four

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