Re: A restatement of the questions

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Posted by Jerry Silverman on April 27, 1999 at 00:44:54:

In Reply to: Re: A restatement of the questions posted by Marvin Amsety on April 26, 1999 at 09:24:38:

: : Dear Everyone,

: : It's obvious from some of the responses that either I have not made myself clear or the questions I raised are simply stupid. It is more comforting to me to believe that the former is true, so I'll take another crack at it.

: : Pastoral nomads of Turkmen and NW Persian tribal groups have some things in common. They live in environments that are similar, although not identical. As pastoral nomads, they share certain problems in everyday life. For example, they must be able to move the house and its contents a couple of times annually. This dictates that the house be portable and that the furniture be such that it can be loaded onto pack animals (this is an example of being able to ask "why" and find a reasonable answer to the question, by the way - Why do these folks use wool as furniture? Because it transports on an animal's back conveniently.).

: : Now for the "why" questions that I raised:
: : 1. Why didn't Turkmen make saltbags? As a corollary, if they brought salt to the pastures, what kind of a container did they keep it in? The salt bag format of the NW Persians seems like such a good solution to this problem.
: : 2. Why didn't the Turkmen make box-like bags? That format seems like a much more useful way to assemble things for a journey than the big envelopes that they used.
: : 3. Why didn't NW Persians make big envelopes in significant numbers? That format seems like a much handier way to keep things within a tent than a big soft box does.

: : Does this help, or am I simply asking stupid questions in more loudly?

: : Regards,

: : Steve Price

: Dear Steve,
: Those aren't stupid questions; they are simply asked of people who live in an enclosure made of wood or brick containing several other enclosures which have smaller enclosures called closets where we store things. We need to ask the questions of someone who experiences the use of those bags and the like. Does Wood or other anthropologists who have lived with these peoples have any answers or are we asking dead people as Jerry so aptly put it? Regards, Marvin

I think Marvin may be on to something here. "Why" questions most frequently fall into the academic purview of anthropologists and sociologists. Does anyone have access to experts in these fields? (I'm rather fond of geographical determinism as the explanation for phenomena like these, but I'll have to think about it more than I'm able to right now to come up with something that makes sense. For instance, was salt readily available to the Turkmen, negating their need for salt bags?) Was the South Persian nomad richer in material possessions, requiring bigger packing bags? Conversely, did the Turkmen "travel lighter" when they managed their flocks, requiring smaller packing bags? Are these questions devolving into a variation of George Carlin's "stuff" monologue?

As for questioning the intent of dead people, I merely suggested that such speculation was likely to be vulnerable to multiple interpretations - not that it couldn't be done usefully.



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