When did waving to others to say hello or goodbye first enter the historical record as part of a culturally accepted form of human interaction?

  • 1
    I'd say when humans became bipedal. – Semaphore Nov 2 '14 at 17:37
  • 1
    It's pretty much a "western" (for want of a better term) expression. I'd say in the east it has been an imported gesture. Urban osmosis and TV has played a role. In traditional Indian art or literature these gestures I believe do not exist. So the question might be reworded to ask "when and where". – Rajib Nov 2 '14 at 19:15
  • Possible scenarios: 1. Upraised hand to denote "I come in peace". 2. Flag waving on shore and ship to denote "friend not foe". – Rajib Nov 2 '14 at 19:20
  • 3
    @Rajib Actually, there's a record in the Spring and Autumn that Duke Wen of Jin waved off a Qin princess on their wedding night 懷嬴與焉,奉匜沃盥,既而揮之 (which may or may not fit OP's requirement); and several Tang poems mentions waving hands/waving goodbyes to friends. For China at least I don't think it was imported. But its possible that it was seeded by nomads who occupied China prior to the Tang dynasty. – Semaphore Nov 2 '14 at 21:33
  • 1
    Surprisingly, waving is a very primitive gesture. With children, this is often the very first visible sign of conscious communication. Child sees you waving and knows it should wave back. It happens long before any other gestures; before they can walk or speak. It happens even when child didn't observe other people waving at another, so it's not a learned skill. – kubanczyk Sep 18 '15 at 9:42

I believe it came about before advanced human civilization. The waving of a hand is to get somebody's attention in the most effective and conservative way possible. Waving a hand can attract one's attention but at the same time is not overly conspicuous. This could have helped early civilizations when hunting or during warfare.

Jonah Amedeo

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Any sources to go with this answer? – FiringSquadWitness Sep 18 '15 at 4:57
  • @JustAnotherDotNetDev I'm using something called "common sense" that the act of waving is from pre-historical times, thus off topic for History. When Homo Erectus first started using tools to hunt, one hunter must have waved to others to either tell them "good hunting over here" or "lions here, stay away" ... there are no sources because it is pre-historical, and anthropologists can tell us when our anscestors started walking up-right, but not what they used their hands for, or not, other than the tools themselves. – CGCampbell Sep 18 '15 at 12:32

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.