164 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
overlooking the Villa Umberto Primo — a wall which has been entirely neglected by the authorities and by no means respected by the citizens, and upon which Randone lavished care, decorating it with graceful hanging gardens on the outside, and locating within it the School of Art which was to shape the Giovinezza Gentile.
Here Randone has tried, very fittingly, to rebuild and revive a form of art which was once the glory of Italy and of Florence — the potter's art, that is, the art of constructing vases.
The archaeological, historical, and artistic importance of the vase is very great, and may be compared with the numismatic art. In fact the first object of which humanity felt the need was the vase, which came into being with the utilisation of fire, and before the discovery of the production of fire. Indeed the first food of mankind was cooked in a vase.
One of the things most important, ethnically, in judging the civilisation of a primitive people is the grade of perfection attained in pottery; in fact, the vase for domestic life and the axe for social life are the first sacred symbols which we find in the prehistoric epoch, and are the religious symbols connected with the temples of the gods and with the cult of the dead. Even to-day, religious cults have sacred vases in their Sancta Sanctorum.
People who have progressed in civilisation show their feeling for art and their aesthetic feeling also in vases which are multiplied in almost infinite form, as we see in Egyptian, Etruscan, and Greek art.
The vase then comes into being, attains perfection, and is multiplied in its uses and its forms, in the course of human civilisation; and the history of the vase follows the history of humanity itself. Besides the civil