Things You Probably Don’t Know About the History of Doodle

While you think doodling is just an absentminded way of passing time, it still has a rich history that could prove to be the foundation of all written communication....

While you think doodling is just an absentminded way of passing time, it still has a rich history that could prove to be the foundation of all written communication. Remember the little hearts you draw on the edge of your notebook, or that drawing of your boring teacher? Well, you could say that they are basically the trends of this century as deer horns were on prehistoric days. So before you brand doodle as the most underrated and ignored art form, let’s trace first the history of doodle.

Tracing the Doodle History

Doodling has been around since the oldest cave paintings 40,000 years ago. Back in those days, prehistoric men made chicken-like etchings on cave walls to communicate and tell a story (or as some may argue, to perform rituals). Cavemen use stones and sticks to draw abstract patterns, human hands, and wild animals. The earliest of this said drawings were found in France and Spain. After that, around 3200 B.C., the drawings advanced from cave walls to clay tablets. Some rescued tablets from the Mesopotamian societies were said to have the same random images on the edges and sides of the clay pieces.

Although these two developments became the stepping stones that started the art form, doodle itself wasn’t about drawing at all. The closest English term to describe it is “scribble”. In fact, the origin of the word tells a different and comical story.

Drawing the Origin

In history, during the pre-Revolutionary War in America, a group of British military officers created a song entitled “Yankee Doodle”. They sang it (in the same tune as the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill) during the war to mock the disorganized American soldiers. The British coined the term Yankee Doodle to mean American fools. That’s how the word “doodle” emerged to convey “simpleton” or “fool”. German variants of the etymon include dudel or dödel where it was believed to be derived from. As for the song, Americans took it, altered it, and sang it during the war to make fun of their foes. As years passed, it became a patriotic song to Americans and eventually evolved to the present state anthem of Connecticut.

For the full story, grab DOODLE ARTS Magazine’s September-December 2014 Inspiration Issue.

Words by Divine Angeline Leano | Edited by Elaine Catindig | Illustration by Chad Simbajon

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Dibs Leaño is a professional writer, journalist, and managing editor of Doodle Arts. While not working as content manager, she prefers to play computer games, feed her cats, vandalize restroom walls, draw doodles for special occasions, whine for more and plan for world domination. Follow her on Instagram, @dibsidoodles.

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