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Domestication in relation to pastoralism

The pastoral community

Types of pastoralism

Traditional pastoralism

Economic prospects of pastoralism


Pastoralism is an economic activity involving the care of herds of domesticated livestock. In its traditional forms it is either practiced as the main mode of subsistence or combined with agriculture. Pastoralism functions as a cultural system with a characteristic ecology. The community of the pastoralists can be considered in two dimensions, as an ecological unit and as a sociocultural community.

Definitions . The pastoral community differs from natural animal communities in that it is subject to the cultural control exercised by man. Moreover, this pastoral community is something more than the sociocultural community. It is a selfperpetuating social group with a characteristic population size and composition, geographic locus and distribution, and in common with all other ecological communities, certain functional requisites for survival. This community has a set of institutions which relate it to a greater cultural whole, and in addition it maintains and is maintained by an inner conscious cohesiveness (see Arensberg 1961). But as members of a pastoral community, pastoralists also have sociocultural institutions through which they enter into mutually supportive relations with their herds and dependent or parasitic relations with the natural environment of their eco-system. In the same sense, pasture is not solely a natural phenomenon but is culturally controlled, being designated or delimited as individual, family, communal, tribal, or national property by pastoralists, who use it to provide natural sustenance to their herds.

Man and herd live in a symbiotic community; the human component of this community takes the form of a village composed either entirely of pastoralists or of some specialized pastoi .disis living among agriculturalists. However, the pastoral village is found primarily in those cultures given over wholly or in significant degree to pastoralism.

In the pastoral community man and herds make social and psychological adjustments to each other; together they adapt to the natural environment in which the herds have their special ecological niche, the pasture. This adaptation is related to the size of the herd, which is characteristically large enough to be self-sustaining, and to its practice of grazing the grassy cover of the pasture or, to a lesser extent, browsing the foliage.

There is little or no improvement of the plant or water supply in the pastoral ecology, and hence a natural ceiling on nourishment for the stock is imposed where pastoralism is the main source of subsistence; in such cultures a limit is placed on size and rate of growth of human and animal populations. This is one of the causative factors of the stagnation or slow development that characterizes pastoralist economic systems. An outstanding example is the Mongol pastoral pattern, which was little changed from the time of their great empire in the thirteenth century to the twentieth century.

In order to understand the nature of pastoralism, it is necessary to differentiate it from what it is not, especially from similar forms with which it may be confused. Pastoralism is distinct from general animal domestication and from certain types of specialized domestication in which a single animal or a small number are raised by farmers. These instances of animal husbandry do not involve maintenance of self-sustaining herds in pasture, and the animals concerned generally forage about the human settlement or depend on farmland stubble, fallow lands, etc. Cattlemen of the American grasslands do not form natural communities of pastoralists because their enterprises are artificially organized for the cattle owners’ profit. The pastoralist community is also not equated with the farming village to which are attached a few shepherds who tend the flocks. This is a form of specialized labor that is widespread in rural Europe and elsewhere. However, it is not excluded that such a village, while primarily concerned with cultivation, may form a community with its herds through the specialized activity of the village herdsmen (see below).

Principal breeds of pastoral stock . Pastoralism in its most developed form has an Old World cultural origin. The domesticated stock include:

Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus)

Sheep (Ovis aries)

Goat (Capra hircus)


Cattle, European type (Bos taurus)

Zebu, or humped cattle (Bos indicus)

Yak (Bos grunniens)


Horse (Equus caballus)

Ass (Equus asinus asinus)


Dromedary (Camelus dromedarius)

Bactrian (Camelus bactrianus)

The relations between the different breeds of stock are not clear in many cases, and a number of historical and genetic problems remain to be solved. The bovine classification is arbitrary, and it groups the yak with the taurines and the zebu, contrary to usual zoological practice. The reason is that the yak interbreeds with the taurines, and the pastoral behavior of both is generally similar. Again, the ass has been included among the pastoral stock, but several local breeds have been omitted. Where cultural considerations do not conflict with genetic differentiations, they have dominated other considerations in forming and subdividing the above list of pastoral animals.

Pastoralism based on these species extends across northern Eurasia, from Scandinavia and northern Russia to Siberia as far as the Chukchi Peninsula (the classical area of reindeer herding) and various parts of south and central Asia. Pastoralism has existed longest in the Middle East, extending from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley. Pastoralism is practiced among many peoples of the Caucasus. It is distributed throughout Europe in a variety of forms and across northern, eastern, and southern Africa.

In the New World, pastoralism of an indigenous type was limited to Camelidae of the Andean highlands; the llama as a pack animal and the alpaca as a wool-producer were domesticated by the Incas and their forerunners. Pastoralism in modified forms is distributed in most parts of the world today.

Domestication in relation to pastoralism

All pastoral animals are domesticated, but some domesticated animals are not pastoral: for example, the dog, cat, pig, fowl. Domestication of animals is by definition based on close association of a breed with man, whereby behavior and, by inference, attitude are mutually influenced. Domesticated stock breed within the pastoral community, accept man as the ecological dominant, and generally, but not always, supply some product or perform some service of use to man. As a result of domestication, man and beast make mutual adjustments; thus dogs and other animals which serve as guardians are in turn protected. There are, moreover, one-sided adjustments: rut patterns of domesticated animals differ from those of the wild.

The culture of domesticating peoples takes account of domestication not only in economy and ecology but also in religion and mythology, fable, and other folklore genres by imputation of an anthropomorphic psychology to animals or by worship of bull spirits, etc.

Domestication comprises a greater range of cultural activities than pastoralism. Domesticated animals, including some pastoral stock, are frequently raised for participation in religious ritual, sport and play, warfare, and for such psychological comfort to people as they may provide, as well as for economic purposes.

Pastoralism is an aspect of the domestication of animals, having developed as a specialized form of the latter in the ancient Near East. There sheep and goats were the earliest of the domesticated species; remains have been found in mesolithic and neolithic sites of the ninth and eighth millennia b.c.

Herding is also to be differentiated from pastoralism, because the care of flocks or herds of wild, tame, domestic, and domesticated animals may take place in environments other than pasture and because pastoral animals require a specialized ecological niche for their maintenance. They thus differ from nonpastoral domesticated animals, which may be kept here and there about the household and village, in the interstices of human settlement. Asses, sheep, goats, horses, cattle, although usually pastured, may be raised within the village in barns, stalls, pens, tethers, sties, or simply roaming loose. The domesticated elephant of Asia and Africa may not be regarded as a pastoral animal because it does not have a specialized ecological niche.

There are a variety of pastoral forms. At its simplest pastoralism involves a single species, such as the reindeer in northern Eurasia or the south African Hottentot cattle. In the arid or semiarid zones of Manchuria, the Near East, and north Africa, in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and in temperate Europe, pastoral herds are of a more complex composition. The Mongols raise conjointly herds of sheep, goats, horses, and camels in addition to cattle, yaks, and various hybrids. In ancient times asses and mules were possibly also raised under pastoral conditions in Mongolia. In its sociocultural aspects pastoralism is also variously organized. In parts of Asia and Africa it may be the affair of whole families (as among most nomadic groups), of whole villages (e.g., Turkmen, Bedouins), and even of whole cultures (e.g., Mongols, Tuareg). In these circumstances there will be only a modest degree of economic activity within the herding unit. But traditional pastoralism in Europe and certain neighboring parts of Asia is practiced by individuals specialized in herding in a context where agriculture is a major economic activity. Transhumance is one of the forms that this kind of mixed herding-farming pastoralism takes. Another form, in which herding and primitive farming receive equal emphasis, is sometimes called seminomadism.

The pastoral community

In terms of the ecological system, the pastoral community in those cultures having pastoralism as the principal mode of subsistence can be easily defined; the pastoralists and their herds subsist in an ecological symbiosis, the herds supplying products for the herders—nourishment, clothing, shelter, dung for fuel—and, further, products for the herders’ trade with farming peoples. For their part, the pastoralists protect the herds from predatory animals, help their stock to forage under snow, help the bovines in calving and mares in foaling, and help kids and lambs to suckle. This last is especially important, for domesticated pastoral stock are woollier than the wild, and the udders are harder for the young to find.

Pastoralists and their herds depend upon the natural bounty; the stock graze the grass and browse the foliage of shrubs and trees; men and animals both utilize the water and salt. The grass grazed over must be allowed to grow again the following year; springs must have a chance to reshape their banks after the herds have trampled them. These annual cycles are reflected in the nomadic pastoral round.

The mixed ecological relations of symbiosis and parasitism are diagnostic traits of pastoralism. Pastoralism thus constitutes a complex ecological system, different from the symbiotic relations of agriculture and the parasitic relations of hunting, fishing, and gathering. The pastoral ecological community is based on a man-herd symbiosis which is in one of its aspects parasitic in the larger eco-system.

The community of pastoralist and herd is based upon ecological relations which are known from other contexts: dominance and symbiosis. Man’s dominance over the herds is to be seen in the submission of the herds to the cultural regime in a context of mutual support. In this community, factors of psychological affect and rapport are established between man and beast. Man’s cultural role is extended to accommodate the behavior of the herds. The behavior of the beasts is radically changed; there are psychoneural changes, such as in rutting patterns and in those processes of behavior formation that are influenced by the circumstances of imprinting and nomadization. It is in this way that the pastoral community emerges as a reality: the animal stock undergoes behavioral changes as the community forms under the cultural regime, that is, under the ecological dominance of man.

Imprinting among pastoral animals has been given a different meaning than that originally assigned to it by Lorenz (1935) in his work on bird imprinting. In its primary meaning, imprinting is a form of learning that occurs in the earliest period of life, a period which is brief and sharply defined. Learning in the period of imprint is in a high degree ineradicable. In the view of Scott (1962) and others who have dealt with pastoral-animal learning, imprinting is most importantly identified with socialization. Ethology has as one of its branches the study of behavioral patterns that are speciesspecific, yet a new branch of ethological study should be pursued in the context of pastoralism. Although animal behavior patterns are specific, the different types of pastoral stock conform in a general way to a single behavior pattern under the cultural control of complex pastoral nomadism. [SeeImprinting.]

The ecological community of herders and herds has created an innovation, pasture as the ecological niche of the herds; both pasture and herds being maintained in conjunction with, and in the neighborhood of, a human settlement, the village of pastoralists. In the sociological community the stock functions as mobile property. Stock raising is an institution common to a number of communities. Considered within the sociocultural community, pasture is also in a nonecological relation; it becomes a real or immobile property which may be owned by an individual or by the whole social group. As such, pasture is frequently managed by several social communities.

The behavior of wild species of herd animals in search of food has much in common with the behavior of the pastoralists’ stock. Wild sheep, horses, and camels have territories of their own and change their grazing places in an annual round. This is a nomadic cycle and has been identified as such by Japanese investigators who have observed the grazing habits of horses (Imanishi 1954).

Thus, nomadization is not a monopolistic feature of human ecology; still less is it an exclusively pastoralist trait. Nomadism, the movement of a community through an annual cycle, is characteristic of a number of wild species and of certain human societies, for example, some hunters, fishers, and gatherers. Moreover, not all pastoral societies are nomadic or contain wholly nomadic communities. But nomadism is characteristic of certain pastoral cultures whose common traits include highly mobile living arrangements, such as tents and covered wagons, a technology and material culture adapted to mobility, and movement of the human group and the herds from pasture to pasture over socially recognized routes in an annual cycle.

Types of pastoralism

Nomadic pastoralism. Pastoralism as traditionally and, in certain cases, currently practiced by Mongol, Turkic, Uralic, Semitic, and Hamitic peoples is generally nomadic.

Pasture is often discontinuous and connected by routes of access; villages are mobile and maintained as distinctive entities whether they are within or beside the pasture.

These groups have a well-developed institution of property which is held in herds, pasture, and the routes between pastures. Their legal arrangements include the means for control over pasture, identification of herds, regulation of access to routes, and regulation of disputes over property rights.

The herds of many of these peoples are complex in composition, but under the ecological dominance of man they have come to nomadize conjointly. The Mongols traditionally caused herds of horses, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and yaks to graze and move in a single nomadic cycle, according to man-made rules; thus the different species conformed in their behavior to the pastoralist culture. The gregarious nature of these herds and their habits of socialization and feeding have remained, while at the same time becoming transformed under the cultural regime of the nomadic pastoralists. Not all domesticated stock can make such adjustments or make them to a degree necessary for pastoral gregariousness. Nor does imprinting occur in this way among all domesticated animals; the dog and pig adjust otherwise to community with man. In other words, culture accounts for the patterns of behavior of domesticated animals that are different from those of wild and feral animals; it also directs those differences in behavior found among the domesticated animals, pastoral versus nonpastoral. The pastoralist culture interacts with animal potentialities in intelligence, attitude, and behavior, applying and developing these for human use. In these terms, nomadic pastoralism is a unitary cultural type.

Unspecialized herding-farming

A variety of herding is sometimes called seminomadism. The cultures practicing this mixed form of subsistence are without specialists in either herding or farming, but individuals and certain families of the village move back and forth from one occupation to the other. This mixed herding-farming economy dates from the middle and late bronze age of the Near East, about 5,000 years ago, and from a millennium later in southern central Asia. According to Zhdanko (1963), it was practiced continuously into the early twentieth century by successive settlers in the delta of the Amu-Darya south of the Aral Sea.

The agriculture of these settlers was primitive; their herds, while complex in composition, were restricted in their movements about the grazing grounds; these were in any case subject to multiple uses, including some farming, with scarcely any provision for specialized function as pasture. The herds were small both in absolute numbers and in proportion to the population of the villages; their small size required neither vast and complex nomadic movements nor the complex management of herd and pastoral range found among the great pastoral nomads, such as Kazaks and Mongols.

The villages of the unspecialized farmer-herdsmen are sedentary; use of tents to follow the herds is not well developed. This form of herding is not nomadic; the term “seminomadism” has been applied to it. The pastoral ecology is not fully developed by the peoples practicing this mixed mode of subsistence.

The Turkmen, neighbors of the Kara-Kalpaks, practice whole-village pastoralism, while certain of the Turkmen villages are given over wholly to farming; still others practice the mixed, unspecialized form of herding– farming found among the Kara-Kalpaks.

Transhumance and estivation

Transhumance is a highly developed form of pastoralism practiced by sedentary cultures whose major economic activity is agriculture. It is best known from Europe but is also practiced, although to a lesser degree, by a number of peoples of the Caucasus, the Middle East, and mountainous parts of Asia as far east as Tibet. In the transhumant pattern, pastoralism is closer to parity with agriculture.

In the Mediterranean countries, villages engaged in transhumant pastoralism traditionally send their herds of sheep, goats, and cattle to summer upland pasture. The stock is given into the charge of shepherds, goatherds, or cowherds specialized in their tasks, and they have a defined place in the village and in their respective national economies. In terms of the specialization of labor and marketing institutions, transhumance is a higher development than the mixed farming-herding mentioned above, just as the agriculture of these transhumant villages is more highly developed both technically and institutionally than the agriculture of semipastoralists. Birot and Dresch (1953-1956) have described a type of transhumance in the Mediterranean plains that is characterized by an element of capital-intensive pastoralism. This, however, is not of a traditional type.

Estivation is a further development in terms of specialization of labor, product, and market. It combines the utilization of specialized labor in herding with an investment in cheese manufacture and marketing institutions for this product.

Other forms of pastoralism

There are significant variations of pastoralism, regional to some extent but more significantly institutional. Northern Eurasian reindeer breeders have adjusted to their stock and vice versa but do not have complex herds requiring mutual adjustments of different kinds of stock. Mongol and Turkic nomads of central and inner Asia, Semitic and Hamitic (including Tuareg) nomads of southwest Asia and north Africa have evolved a complex pastoralism with mixed stock. They have developed economic and political institutions which relate them to neighboring agricultural civilizations. Mongol and Chinese economic interactions historically have been those of specialized monopolistic producers and consumers, each dependent on the product of the other. Certain Turkic groups, such as the Turkmen, have developed a closer interdependence of herding and farming within the same ethnic group and local economy. At the same time they traded with, and raided on, their Persian farming neighbors.

South of the Sahara, east African pastoralism has evolved with many of the same features: a community with complex herds (zebu, camel, goat, sheep) and nonsedentary village arrangements. The tent is absent here. The productivity of stock is lower than in north African and central Asian pastoralism, and the nomadic round is less firmly regulated. Territoriality of pastoral communities is not well fixed; grazing rights and route rights between pastures are loosely defined, if at all, for example, among the Turkana. The complex set of intersocietal institutions relating herding and farming peoples—developed in a high degree in north Africa and southwest, central, and inner Asia—are but modestly developed in sub-Saharan Africa and in northern Eurasia.

Traditional pastoralism

Pastoralism as an ecological system, while not limited to the arid zones of the Middle East, central Asia, and north Africa, has been most highly developed in this environment. Reasons for this appear to be both historical and systemic, that is, inherent in the nature of pastoralism and inherent in its relations to the environment. The latter is the more interesting scientific consideration. The arid zones may support farming, but only by intensive exploitation of the ground through irrigation, that is, by intensive application of labor and capital.

Traditional pastoralism has been maintained as an ecological system for more than four millennia in the arid zone of the Near East, for more than three millennia in the arid zone of central Asia, and for almost as long a time elsewhere in the Old World. This has been achieved without great laborintensive or capital investment. The result has been a level of living for the common pastoralist that is often superior to the level achieved by the peasants of the agricultural high cultures of China, India, and the Near East. Although the political development of pastoralists has led to the growth of empires, their technology, letters, and science have remained backward by comparison with the great farming civilizations.

The ease with which pastoralists have achieved their level of minimum accomplishments in economic development has been through the development of an ecological community with the livestock. The community has provided favorable conditions for exploitation of the stock as living farms, or factories on the hoof, founded on and made possible only by the ecological symbiosis of herder and herd. Frequently pastoralists have also developed institutions for marketing in the neighboring agricultural lands the pastoral product and such natural products of the territory as furs and salt.

Mongol pastoralism

Mongol pastoralist traditions exhibit both common features and variations in the general theme of the pastoral complex as practiced in parts of Asia and north Africa. Pastoralism continues to be practiced by the Mongols, although profound modifications were introduced during the middle of the twentieth century; above all, Mongolian pastoralism in its traditional form developed the inherent potentialities of pastoralism more fully than most other pastoralist cultures.

The Khalkha Mongols, who have herded in Mongolia for over a thousand years, number about 750,000. In recent decades the total number of their mixed stock has been about 25 million in the following proportion: sheep (53 per cent), goats (24 per cent), horses (11 per cent), cattle (8 per cent), and camels (4 per cent).

During the 1920s, when the traditional economy was still in force, total gross size of herds in Mongolia was only ten per cent below the present; there has been little change in the internal composition of the herds, to judge by the fairly constant ratio of different kinds of stock. Thus, without improvement of the grass cover or water supply, the ecological system tends to continue, even in the face of radical political change.

Some of the most favorable ecological conditions for pastoralism are met in the grassy upland steppe of central Mongolia, the Ara Khangai. This is homogeneous pastoralist country, where the population, with few exceptions, is directly or indirectly involved with stock raising. Here the human population density is one of the highest in rural Mongolia, 1.4 per sq. km. The gross herd density is 52 per sq. km.; the ratio of gross herd size to human population is 36:1. These, too, are exceptionally high figures, rare in traditional pastoralism. The mean average population density for Mongolia is 0.5 per sq. km.; the mean gross herd density is 14 per sq. km. (Krader 1955).

The traditional pastoral village of the Mongols was composed of extended families under a patriarch, his wife, his sons and unmarried daughters, the wives and the children of married sons; residence upon marriage was patrilocal; kinship was and is reckoned in the patriline. A wealthy or prominent Mongol also had poor and distant kin as dependents and supporters in the kin village of the past. Agnatic kin lived side by side in villages which might, in the winter encampments, number ten to fifty felt tents arranged in a circle or arc. Men tended the herds and supervised the village’s nomadic moves, while women maintained the household.

Mongols have done little farming, and some Mongols hold that piercing the earth by ploughing and planting is a defilement of the earth spirit. From time to time agriculture has been introduced into Mongolia, but it has never become a significant factor in the economy. On the contrary, the Huns and other Turks and the Palaeo-Asiatic Kets who occupied Mongolia before the Mongols have all lived primarily by herding.

Traditionally, the component families of Mongol villages were related by descent and grouped into patricians that were in turn grouped into confederations and principalities; villages, clans, confederations each had a chief or ruler. Thus all individuals were related by consanguinity, while at the same time they were divided into noble and common strata. The villages were made up of common folk who conducted their own affairs under the leadership of an elder. The larger social groupings were ruled by the nobility.

Pasture, migration, route and herd rights, marriage arrangements, and tribute to superiors, whether in kind or in labor, were regulated by rules embodied in folk tradition and written law; disputes were adjudicated through the intervention of higher authority. The hierarchical position of each social group was established by ranking of the collateral lines of descent; to each group obtained certain legal rights, economic practice, religious beliefs, and coercive force. On occasion, segments of patrilineages left their native pastures and joined other, more distantly related villages. Such fusions were subject to careful regulation: application had to be made to the proposed host group, which if it agreed and received the support of its clan chief, would accept the newcomers. A fictional set of kinship relations was then introduced; the newcomers became younger brothers, cousins, and nephews of the hosts, and their women and children were denominated accordingly as nephew’s wife, brother’s child, etc. The economic, social, legal, and religious sanctions were at first applied casually, “as though” the newcomers were kin; but after two or three generations the former strictures were forgotten. These were not in any sense segmentary lineages which could functionally survive as independencies. Each village or clan was enmeshed in a great social hierarchy subject to the set of group relations of the whole, involving agreements of coequal kin villages and intervention from the authority of clan heads and princes.

The traditional economy was not entirely selfsustaining, although it could maintain itself autochthonously for a time. The Mongols drove animals on the hoof to Chinese markets: horses for riding and draft, sheep for mutton; also hides, furs, pelts, wool, felt, and sinew. They did not, however, find a market for their milk and milk products. The Chinese in return provided cotton and silk cloth, grain, and tea.

Mongols and Chinese engaged in commodity exchange in market locations, usually subject to factors internal to the market. In addition, circulation of pastoral and farming products had a political role. Tribute was exacted from the weaker power, sometimes from the pastoralists, sometimes from the farmers. When the Chinese had more political and military force, they dominated the tribute collection, but they also returned economic goods in kind to placate or “pacify.”

Beyond this, Mongol and Turkic nomads maintained the caravans which linked east and central Asia with the Mediterranean and Europe. They provided the draft and pack animals from their herds of camels, horses, and asses, and they served as caravaneers.

Mongol pastoralism is a specialized cultural type which emerged out of the more generalized herding-hunting-farming culture of the bronze age of northern Asia; this pastoral community formed a stable ecological system which has remained in situ over two millennia, maintained by two sets of factors—the internal regime of the Mongolian plateau and the international set of mutually supportive economic relations with the Chinese and other farmers. The set of institutions through which goods were circulated in markets—through the collection and counterpayment of tribute and sumptuary gift exchange—constituted a complex system with built-in political and economic balances and instabilities. The system was an imperfect integration of a herding and a farming people, breaking down on occasion and giving rise to raids, wars, and conquests. Military and political events emphasize rather than hide the interdependence of the pastoral and farming economies of east Asia.

Tuareg pastoralism

The Tuareg are a pastoral people of the western Sahara, a habitat that is far drier than that of the Mongols. Both peoples live in communities of men and herds with a high degree of dependence on the pastoral product. Total population size and density of human and herd population per unit of ground are lower among Tuareg than Mongols; in the 1930s the Tuareg numbered 240,000. Their range includes desert and semidesert with rare access to the lusher grasslands; the vegetation cover is dependent on the amount and rate of precipitation, and it is highly variable.

The Tuareg herd goats and sheep; of secondary importance are camels, cattle, and asses. They are nomads and live in communities that typically cluster ten to twenty tents; these in turn are composed of several minor camps. The minor camp is an extended family consisting of two to seven tents; and this is the cooperative goat-herding unit. Here, as among the Mongols, the family is in operational control of herd management; the family, however, is not the unit of range management that is subject, in these complex societies, to regulation by higher authority.

Traditional Tuareg society links together a number of village kin communities; these combine, on the principle of descent, into tribes and, further, into federations. The federations form political unities with centralized rule over each in the hands of a nobleman. Just as among the classical Mongols, Tuareg society is stratified, and lord and vassal relations are established for the purpose of sustaining and extending political power.

Agriculture had little importance in much of the Tuareg economy until irrigated agriculture was introduced to the Ahaggar Tuareg in the nineteenth century.

Labor is specialized chiefly by age and sex and then by crafts—ironworking, stone work, pottery making, and leather working. Thus, women of the sedentary Tuareg are pottery workers; pastoral women do not work in this line. As in other parts of Africa and Asia, a special ritual status is given to smiths, and they have an argot of their own.

Caravan trade is a necessary source of livelihood for the Tuareg, notwithstanding the inroads of European transportation into the Sahara. Agricultural products such as millet are transported from the Sudan to the south; salt is mined within the Tuareg land and traded without. Butter, cheese, dates, and wheat are circulated in camel caravans, which also supply agricultural products to the pastoralists. Tuareg with no agriculture are even more dependent on the caravan trade than those with agriculture.

Despite differences in habitat and certain cultural features, the internal economies of the Mongol and the Tuareg are comparable. This is true in terms of herd, pasture, route and range management, social and political structure, legal practices, village and principality organization, and ecological community arrangements.

Pastoral economies in these complex societies are in interdependent economic exchange with farmers through systems of market and caravan trade. Macro-institutions of state and empire, transcontinental caravan trade, and international tributary relations are defective, instable, and evanescent. But small-scale institutions of the herding village and pastoral community have adapted to modern life.

Economic prospects of pastoralism

The future of pastoralism is mixed. In its nomadic form it has been reduced in importance or transformed. In central Asia and Mongolia it has been changed into sedentary pasturing and stabling of animal stock. Tuareg nomads today comprise but two per cent of the population. The principal factors in the retrenchment of nomadism are its association with “anti-progressive” forces: nomads constitute a special problem in education and industrialization; central governments of the Middle East generally regard nonsedentary populations as tribes, that is, forming a state within a state, and do not trust them.

Nevertheless, meat, leather, milk, and wool have continuing world markets, and modified forms of pastoral communities continue to occupy their specialized ecological niche in the arid zones. These may be reduced, but only where there is sufficiently heavy investment of capital and labor—as, for example, in the exploitation of oil and water reserves—to make mechanized transport and industry economically feasible.

In general, migration of labor to urban, industrial, and other money-economy centers is depleting pastoralist manpower in the rural sectors of underdeveloped economies. Pastoralism is also endangered by national public policies which place a low social value and therefore a low priority on pastoralism. This has the effect of eliminating certain pastoral areas from the economy without substituting another economic function for the lands vacated or for the pastoral people themselves; and it has turned certain former animal and animalproduct exporting nations into net importers, placing a further strain on development.

Lawrence Krader

[See alsoDomestication, article onanimal domestication; Ecology.]


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Imanishi, Kinji 1954 Nomadism: An Ecological Interpretation. Pages 466-479 in Kyoto, University of, Research Institute of Humanistic Science, Silver Jubilee Volume of the Zinbun-Kagaku-Kenkyusyo, Kyoto University. Kyoto: The University. → Discusses nomadism in wild and feral horse herds.

Krader, Lawrence 1955 Ecology of Central Asian Pastoralism. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 11: 301-326. → Describes human and animal population densities; natural regions; and community organization.

Krader, Lawrence 1963 Social Organization of the Mongol–Turkic Pastoral Nomads. Indiana University, Publications, Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 20. The Hague: Mouton. → Includes classical Mongols, Ordos Mongols, Buryats, Kalmuks, Monguors, Orkhon-Yenisey Turks, and Kazakhs.

Lorenz, Konrad (1935) 1937 The Companion in the Bird’s World. Auk 54:245-273. → First published in German in Volume 83 of Zeitschrift für Ornithologie.

Maksimova, A. G. 1959 Epokha bronzy vostochnogo Kazakhstana (The Bronze Age of Eastern Kazakhstan). Akademiia Nauk Kazakhskoi S.S.R., Institut Istorii, Arkheologii, i Etnografii, Trudy 7:86-161. → Describes ecological factors in the transition from mixed farming-herding to pastoralism.

Myres, John L. 1941 Nomadism. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 71:19-42. → Describes pastoralism in antiquity.

Nicolaisen, Johannes 1963 Ecology and Culture of the Pastoral Tuareg: With Particular Reference to the Tuareg of Ahaggar and Ayr. Copenhagen: National Museum.

Nomads and Nomadism in the Arid Zone. 1959 International Social Science Journal 11:481-585.

Planhol, Xavier DE 1961-1963 Nomades et pasteurs. Revue geographique de Vest 1:291-310; 2:295-318; 3:269-298. → A global survey of the literature. Part 3 was coauthored by Michel Cabouret.

Scott, J. P. 1962 Introduction to Animal Behaviour. Pages 3-20 in E. S. E. Hafez (editor), The Behaviour of Domestic Animals. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

Stamp, L. Dudley (editor) 1961 A History of Land Use in Arid Regions. Arid Zones Research, Vol. 17. Paris: UNESCO.

United Nations Educational, Scientific And Cultural Organization 1957 Human and Animal Ecology: Reviews of Research. Arid Zones Research, Vol. 8. Paris: UNESCO.

United Nations Educational, Scientific And Cultural Organization 1962 Nomades et nomadisme au Sahara. Arid Zones Research, Vol. 19. Paris: UNESCO. → An analysis of tribal organization, values and attitudes, and external relations.

Zeuner, Friedrich E. 1963 A History of Domesticated Animals. New York: Harper.

Zhdanko, T. A. 1963 Semi-nomadism in the History of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Volume 3, pages 176184 in International Congress of Orientalists, Moscow, 1960, Proceedings. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Vostochnoi Literatury. → Discusses the continuity of mixed and sedentary herding-farming practices in the Amudarya delta from the bronze age to the modern Karakalpaks.

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489. Pastoralism

  1. Arcadia mountainous region of ancient Greece; legendary for pastoral innocence of people. [Gk. Hist.: NCE, 136; Rom. Lit.: Eclogues ; Span. Lit.: Arcadia ]
  2. Chloë Arcadian goddess, patronness of new, green crops. [Gk. Myth.: Parrinder, 62]
  3. Daphnis Sicilian shepherd-flautist; invented bucolic poetry. [Rom. Myth.: LLEI, I:326]
  4. Eclogues short pieces by Roman poet Vergil with pastoral setting. [Rom. Lit.: Benét, 1053]
  5. Granida and Daifilio classic idyllic love between princess and shepherd. [Dutch Lit.: Granida, Hall, 141]
  6. Pastoral Symphony Beethovens Symphony No. 6 in F Major; hymn to nature. [Ger. Music: Thompson, 1634]
  7. Theocritus poet; rhapsodized over charm of rustic life. [Gk. Lit.: Brewer Dictionary, 813]
  8. Walden Thoreaus classic; advocates a return to nature. [Am. Lit.: Van Doren, 208]
  9. Works and Days long poem by Hesiod, considered a farmers almanac of ancient Greece. [Gk. Lit.: Benét, 1102]

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"Pastoralism." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . 28 Apr. 2017 <>.

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pastoralism Form of subsistence agriculture that involves the herding of domesticated livestock. Societies practising this are small – restricted by the large amount of grazing land needed for each animal. Indigenous pastoralism is widespread in n Africa and central Asia, but in the Americas it is confined to the Andes. See also nomad

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"pastoralism." World Encyclopedia. . 28 Apr. 2017 <>.

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