Accepted Papers:

The multiple understandings between deer, sheep and Central Asian pastoralists  

Author:

Stephanie Bunn (University of St Andrews)

Paper Short Abstract:

In this paper, I explore the different ways that Central Asian pastoralists know and have known deer and sheep, through herding them, hunting them, eating them, exploring their social and status relationships through them, creating imagery of them, and negotiating with them for future food and life.

Paper long abstract:

Pastoralists and hunters in Central Asia have very specific relationships with animals which relate to both their lived experience of working with them, and to their beliefs and understandings of animals as equals and as food. Most particularly, deer and sheep hold an iconic role in terms of people's long practiced knowledge of them, their place within local views about the world, the environment and nature, and also as imagery carved into stone on the steppe, and incorporated into a wide range of historical artefacts from kurgans, or burial mounds, and contemporary art.

In this paper, I explore the different ways that Central Asian pastoralists know, and have known, deer and sheep, through herding them, hunting them, eating them, exploring their social and status relationships through them, creating imagery of them, and negotiating with them for future food and life. This is based on anthropological research into Kyrgyz herding and hunting practices, how to cook meat, the relationship between social space and the animal body, and animal imagery in textiles and other artefacts.

I then discuss how one can bring contemporary lived practice into relation with objects and imagery from the past. I do this within the context of additional research into deer and sheep imagery in 'Animal-style Art' on standing stones from Central Asia and South Siberia and into related imagery on artefacts, along with the ritual role of sheep bone in archaeological material from heritage sites and burials the region.

panel P15
Humans and other animals