Animals have been perceived to be the closest man’s friends since time immemorial. It should be noted that people used animals for different purposes which, in turn, defined their culture and traditions. While one culture tabooed keeping animals at home, the other considered it to be of immense significance and worth. Thus, it is safe to assume that different communities had different forms of animals to keep and associate their traditions with. Therefore, this research paper tries to examine the manner in which a culture was determined through the placement of importance on some animals in respect to others. Notably, the research provides the review on specific tribes in correlation to the forms of animals they continue to keep.
Importance of Horses and Other Animals to the Culture of Native Americans. In Native American culture there are a substantial number of animals which are considered to be of crucial significance in their respective manner of life. These animals are assigned different roles as well as meanings which help categorize them into their respective attributes. Within this community, animals played an important role in life as well as provided specific meanings in the course of dreaming. Spirits appeased in the course of dreaming were considered to be significant in providing relevant protection as well as help. For instance, white horses, wolf and deer were reflections of possible danger which needed immediate attention (Wissler, 1915).
Both modernization and industrialization brought with them immense levels of growth and developments while, on the other hand, led to the destruction of natural habitats for wild animals. On this basis, the Native Americans perceived themselves as stewards of the globe and all its occupants: animals. This group of people is distinguished for appreciating different gifts of nature which include environment, plants and most notably, animals. It should be noted that Native Americans never participated in the worshipping of animals; they rather honored and positioned intense respect to them. Animals are perceived as having such capabilities as guiding, companionship as well as protection skills (Wissler, 1915).
For instance, horses within the Native American society reflected such cultural attributes as power, travelling, personal freedom as well as mobilization. Significantly, horses were considered to be the immediate tools used in the endorsement of “diffusion process”. Diffusion process allowed for intense positive borrowing of traits from other communities which were later assimilated into the Native American culture. Historically, horses within this race have undergone extinction in just the same period as mammoths. Re-introduction of horses’ culture happened when Spanish troops attacked and conquered most parts of the territories initially occupied by the Native Americans. Amongst the Dakotas horses were used for transportation purposes as well as for creating the stamina needed for combats and attacks. This group of Native Americans ate dogs but there is no scientific prove to expose them as eaters of horses, hence, there is difference in the uses of animals (Wissler, 1915).
Furthermore, horses were used for hunting buffaloes. The Native Americans possessed immense skills needed for bringing a charged bull down and their horses were trained for the same purpose. This means that they used their horses for sustenance of their livelihoods. Since they could not afford to eat them it was fair that they used them in finding food. Thus, it is safe to assume that Native American culture was completely diffused and enhanced by the horse-culture.
Notwithstanding, Native American culture attributed horses to certain legends which, in turn, facilitated the establishment of the notion relating to “power animals”: whereby such animals as horses and wolves were assigned human traits of strength and positive character. The wider Native American society related horses to different ancestral ties which were later distinguished as their “totems”.
Each and every individual was expected to differentiate his/her inner identity in respect to the spirit of a certain animal. The animal’s spirit would be summoned upon the individual who will later use it to associate and converse with the aforesaid animal. In that case, the person would acquire the strengths, knowledge and wits of the animal. Therefore, such animals as eagles as well as wolves were associated with intense strength and wit.
There were no special bonds which were attributed to the form of relationship between Native Americans and dogs apart from the one which allowed the usage of dogs for hunting sessions as well as guiding the hunters towards potential prey. Notably, Native Americans did consume dogs as food whenever there were spells of hunger.
Other animals which played key roles in formulating the culture of Native Americans were deer, which was used in reflecting the urge for immediate peace, humanity, grace as well as care; fox, which portrayed intense wit, diplomacy as well as swiftness.
Importance of Cows to Nomads. The world’s largest nomadic group is the Fulani. They originate from the western parts of Africa covering Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali. They are renowned for the pride they exhibit in rearing cattle. According to their culture, rearing of cattle is considered to be a sacred obligation assigned to them by their creator. This means that, in a long period of time, they have engaged in conflicts aimed at subduing another people’s governance and assimilating them into their own. It should be noted that most of the Fulani are Muslims and their vast participation in Jihad lead to the destruction of many communities (Gordon, 2000).
The Fulani culture takes pride in beauty. This is perceived by the manner in which they wear tattoos and other body accompaniments. In case of lack of ink, required for tattooing purpose, this nomadic group used cow-waste to decorate themselves. Thus, rearing of cattle contributed to the shaping of their culture. They also used whisks from cattle to make head-covers which protected them from the heat of the sun in the course of hunting (Gordon, 2000).
Another crucial facet amongst the Fulani is their level of pride and their persistent need to control other people’s way of life. It is believed that they were origins of certain Arab tribe as depicted by their lighter skin color. Thus, in order to effectively control and subdue other tribes, they needed to amass a great number of cattle. In this case, their culture was promoted as they perceived other Africans to be a lesser community.
Maasai-Tribe of Kenya. This is an east African tribe which considers cattle as God-given. Their culture entirely relies on cattle and its subsequent products as a whole. According to the Maasai, the responsibility to rare and domesticate cattle belonged to them and thus, it meant that they were not ready to condone other communities rearing cattle. This belief enhanced their poaching culture upon which they robbed surrounding communities of the animal.
Cattles were also considered to be a sign of wealth and prestige since a person’s wealth was determined through counting the number of cattle they possessed. Such traditional practices as payment of dowry were conducted through disbursement of substantial number of cattle-heads. Thus, in the course of marriage, families within the community were expected to exchange cattle with the daughter for marriage.
From the example above, it is safe to assume that cattle played a crucial role in determining the credibility of a man who sought to get a wife. This is because of the assumption that those who could not afford to raise the number of cattle requested, as par the customary law, were not allowed to marry.
Furthermore, cattle were mainly used for food. Milk from cows isconsidered to be the common delicacy among the Maasai since it is consumed at every important occasion on their calendar. Moreover, they are also known for drinking blood of these cattle. In the course of initiation, they are perceived to be engaging in the activity of slaughtering many cattle in the effort to appease the spirit. Cow dung is also used for ornamentation purpose, whenever, the Morans are transformed into men who can marry and have families (Nigel, 2005).
The cow dung is painted all over the Moran’s body in order to stipulate the transition change from mere youth to grown-up member of the society. It should also be noted that the Maasai cultural belief on inheritance is based on cattle. Village elders are assigned different roles within the community in respect to the number of cattle they possess. Therefore, it is safe to assume that cattle amongst the Maasai help to shape their respective manner of governance.
A Maasai warriors are considered to be brave and courageous whenever they are perceived as having the ability to take care of substantial number of cattle. This attribute is depicted by the manner in which they defend their cattle from such wild animals as lions and hyenas. Competition games within the culture allows for sporting activities which involve participation of cattle as they ride them as well as use them for other mobilization purposes. The aforementioned coverage of the Maasai relationship with cattle distinguishes them from other nomadic groups since they depict deeper connection to cattle (Nigel, 2005).
Contribution of Animals to Indian Culture. Hindus are considered to be a holy group of people who showcase their love and appreciation for nature through ensuring the safety of both the environment and its occupants. The Indian culture is amassed with lots of traditions and spiritualism involving animals nurturing. Monkeys are among the common nurtured animals there(Francis, 2010).
Monkeys have been used in the Indian religious activities since they are believed to exhibit immense levels of significance to the supernatural aspect of rebirth. For instance, in the course of Vanavasa, Lord Rama established special ties with different species of monkeys like Jatayu and Sugreeva. It should be noted that Ramayana, which is currently referred to as Hampi, has substantial number of monkeys which signifies the level of importance placed on these animals. Basically, Indians used monkeys to appease spirits of their foregone ancestors as well as their future gods in order to provide them with protection from evil spirits (Kumar, 2005).
Rebirth is considered to be a practice of the Indians which brought the long-gone members of the society back into life. With the death of individual members of the society, their spirits would be called upon by monkeys who were believed to contain the spirit and served as a reminder of the dead to the society. Thus, monkeys were considered to be special creatures which needed special privileges as well as respect.
Another significant animal within the culture of the Indians is elephant. Like monkeys, elephants were animals used to promote the culture of appeasing spirits since they signified the rebirth process of a member of the society. Furthermore, elephants were used for other traditions such as transportation of the bride to the groom. In this occasion, elephants were decorated with flowers and other body ornaments. Traders within the Indian community also used elephants as tools for transportation since they tied their commodities to the elephants which later carried the owner as well as the carriage to markets (Kumar, 2005).
Therefore, it is safe to assume that while monkeys were used for religious purposes only, elephants were used for mobilization functions. Thus, the business culture of the Indians is characterized with the utilization of elephant’s strength capabilities. On the other hand, monkeys were used as religious tools which dealt with spirit apposition. Notwithstanding, different animals were used for specific purposes and in the end, the activity contributed to development and growth of the culture at hand.
To sum up, it is fair to assume that different races across the globe used specific animals for certain functions. In the long run, usage of these animals affected the culture of the community either directly or indirectly. While some animals were purported to bear religious attributes, others were used as food products which identified people’s respective manner of living. For instance, the cattle among the nomadic- Maasai are used for food as well as wealth-distinction purposes. The Fulani use cattle to gain control which they later use to intimidate their enemies.
Horses were used as mobilization tools among the Native American communities. On the other hand, dogs were used for guidance and hunting purposes. Indians used elephants for rebirth and transportation purposes thus, depicting the Indian business culture.