TOEFL Reading Practice Online | Q&A 004

Perhaps the most obvious way artistic creation reflects how people live is by mirroring the environment — the materials and technologies available to a culture. Stone, wood, tree bark, clay, and sand are generally available materials.

In addition, depending on the locality, other resources may be accessible: shells, horns, gold, copper, and silver. The different uses to which societies put these materials are of interest to anthropologists who may ask, for example, why people choose to use clay and not copper when both items are available. Although there are no conclusive answers yet, the way in which a society views its environment is sometimes apparent in its choice and use of artistic materials. The use of certain metals, for example, may be reserved for ceremonial objects of special importance. Or the belief in the supernatural powers of a stone or tree may cause a sculptor to be sensitive to that material.

What is particularly meaningful to anthropologist is the realization that although the materials available to a society may to some extent limit or influence what it can do artistically, the materials by no means determine what is done. Why do the artists in Japanese society rake sand into patterns; and the artists in Roman society melt sand to form glass? Moreover, even when the same material is used in the same way by members of different societies, the form or style of the work varies enormously from culture to culture. A society may simply choose to represent objects or phenomena that are important to its population. An examination of the art of the Middle Ages tells us something about the medieval preoccupation with theological doctrine. In addition to revealing the primary concerns of a society, the content of that society’s art may also reflect the culture’s social stratification.


1.According to the passage , gold, copper, and silver are

(A) more difficult to handle than wood and

(B) of their stable social conditions

(C) of the unique stylistic features of their art

(D) available only in specific locations

2. The word “conclusive” in line 7 is closest in meaning to

(A) definitive

(B) controversial

(C) concurrent

(D) realistic

3. The word “apparent” in line 8 is closest in meaning to

(A) attractive

(B) logical

(C) evident

(D) distinct

4. Why does the author mention the “supernatural powers of a stone or tree” in line 10?

(A) to show that some sculptors avoid working with specific materials

(B) to emphasize the unusual properties of certain materials

(C) as an example of how art can be influenced by cultural beliefs

(D) as an illustration of the impact of the environment on religious beliefs

5. The word “it” in line 13 refers to

(A) realization

(B) society

(C) extent

(D) influence

6. It can be inferred that the author mentions the Japanese and Roman societies because

(A) they influenced each other stone

(B) commonly used by artists in all societies

(C) essential to create ceremonial objects

(D) they used the same artistic material in very different ways

7.According to the passage , all of the following statements about sand are true EXCEPT

(A) It is used to create glass.

(B) Roman artists mix it into their paints.

(C) Its use varies from culture to culture.

(D) Japanese artists use it to create artistic patterns.

8. The word “Moreover” in line 16 is closest in meaning to

(A) similarly

(B) in addition

(C) in contrast

(D) frequently

9. The word “preoccupation” in line 20 is closest in meaning to

(A) involvement

(B) separation

(C) relationship

(D) argument

10. The word “primary” in line 21 is closest in meaning to

(A) discrete

(B) preliminary

(C) ideal

(D) fundamental



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