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pre-Columbian American chickens? -- again
Possible pre-Columbian arrival of Asian chickens to America has been
discussed in some detail in these ngs. I have posted about this in
detail already. Well, now I've come by some more interesting info
about this. Carl Johannessen himself sent me these refs. His
articles deal with a specific rare type of chickens, black-boned,
black-meated chickens (BB-BMC). These are still found currently
among isolated tribal groups in the Americas. But only the Mayan
speakers possess these unusual cultural traits associated with BB-BMC.
What these articles indicate is that it would have been almost
impossible for the Mayan tribes to have learned these cultural
traits associated with these chickens in Hispanic times. Early
connection with Asia is indicated fairly strongly.
This is one of the two articles dealing with this matter.
FOLK MEDICINE USES OF MELANOTIC ASIATIC CHICKENS AS EVIDENCE OF
EARLY DIFFUSION TO THE NEW WORLD by Carl Johannessen. In SOCIAL
SCIENCE AND MEDICINE, vol. 15D, pp 427-434, 1981.
Black-boned, black-skinned and black-meated chickens (BB-BMC) of
many feather types and colors originated in S.-E. Asia. The S.
Chinese, especially, used it in their folk medicine in ancient
times. Many uses of this same Asiatic-type, melanotic chicken are
currently shared by Mayan language groups in L. America. The
arbitrariness of the cures, most of which relate to illnesses
considered to be induced by witchcraft, are thus linked with a
distinctive biological entity, BB-BMC. All this indicates that this
assemblage of traits qualifies BB-BMC as valid for testing the
I have found that Amerinds in Mayan language groups possess many
more of these folk medicine traits than Amerinds in other language
and cultural groups. Away from the Mayan hearth in Guatemala, fewer
Chinese-like medicinal traits are found; but the fact that the
intervening cultures effectively lack knowledge of cures with BB-
BMC's presence from the Mexican-US border to S. Chile indicates that
the lack of folkloric medicine using BB-BMC is not associated with
its absence, but with the lack of a belief system related to it.
Since belief systems of these types have to be carefully taught, a
connection with the peoples of what is now S. China or S.-E. Asia
was likely in pre-Columbian times. Certainly the early Iberians with
their fear of the Inquisition and of becoming bewitched on board
ships would not have allowed BB-BMCs and curers on their vessels.
They had to have arrived earlier from Asia, since chickens were
given as gifts to Spaniards by the 1520s-1540s on contact in several
places in N. and S. America.
[end of Abstract]
The second article is MELANOTIC CHICKEN USE AND CHINESE TRAITS IN
GUATEMALA, by Carl Johannessen and M. Fogg, in REVISTA DE HISTORIA
DE AMERICA 93, p. 75, 1982.
As I understand it, George Carter is currently preparing for
publication a new book dealing with this matter. So the research in
this area continues. We are sure to learn a lot more about this as
times goes by. In the articles some new archaeological evidence for
pre-Columbian chickens is mentioned. These are some Mochica style S.
American ceramics that seem to portray chickens (in the first
article, p. 431).
It must be mentioned that no clear finds of pre-Columbian bones of
chickens in America have been documented as yet. Johannessen
mentions that these bones may not be so easily available, as chicken
bones are tasty treats for quite a few animals who would have been
likely to rummage in the garbage dumps. This should be clear to
anyone who observed dogs in the 3rd world devour chicken bones with
relish. (Of course dog-owners in the US, mindful of expensive vets,
will think about this with horror.)
In any case, I don't have the time now to prepare summaries of these
articles. This is likely to be my last posting for a while, as I'm
soon to take a vacation from the Net. I have to attend to some
personal matters and plan to be back in a few weeks. I'm sure quite
a few people will be very happy to see me gone for a while. Enjoy
these groups Yuri-free for a while! Everyone needs a break now and
Yuri Kuchinsky | "Where there is the Tree of Knowledge, there
-=- | is always Paradise: so say the most ancient
in Toronto | and the most modern serpents." F. Nietzsche
----- my webpage is for now at: http://www.io.org/~yuku -----