Re: Humor: Do tribal people have fun with anthropologists?

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Posted by Erol Abit on March 22, 1999 at 15:41:18:

In Reply to: Humor: Do tribal people have fun with anthropologists? posted by Steve Price on March 20, 1999 at 07:28:48:

: Dear Pilgrims,

: One of the things by which I've been struck for some time is how uncertain we are about how some tribal weavings were intended to be used. This makes me wonder whether telling tall tales to anthropologists might be a form of entertainment to some tribespeople.

: For an example, consider the Turkmen germetch. It is generally regarded as a utilitarian object, hung at the threshold of the tent to keep small animals and chickens from entering (Andrews, WIE BLUMEN IN DER WUSTE), or as a sort of dust ruffle (O'Bannon, VANISHING JEWELS). In HALI (#99, p. 51) I pointed out that in the rare germetch that still have their fringes, the total height would present a barrier to adults going into and out of the tent, but small animals and chickens would have no trouble going through the fringe. That is, the conventional wisdom about how germetch were used seems unlikely to be correct. They are more likely to have been trappings for animals or the tent.

: Now, we might ask, how did the conventional view arise? Was it because the decoration of these things is somehat like the bottom panel of the tent door rug (ensi)? Or did some Turkmen enjoy a joke that has become propagated, now even to the internet?

: Just a thought.

: Steve Price

Sometimes, some collectors or anthropologists might have misunderstood them? Perhaps, tribal people were telling about something but anthropologists might have interpreated some different things. For example, let me give an example (I copied from Sam's RugLore page).

"...The story is told that an anthropologist, on a field trip in Central Asia, saw a native woman weaving a rug without a cartoon. She said to her, "You must have the design in your head." "No", she replied, "In my heart."..."

To me, she fell in love and because of this she said "heart". While she was weaving a rug, she must have been thinking about the face of her handsome darling. But that anthropologist and rug enthusiasts made a different comment since their mind was working about the field trips, arts, etc..


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