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Re: chicken in America: from Asia? (cont.)

Greetings, all,

And here is the conclusion of my essay about the chicken. I'm glad that
the first part posted yesterday already elicited some comments. Now, that
the whole thing is out, I hope contributors will offer further commentary
after considering the complete argument.




[part 3 of 3] 
Carter spends many pages on linguistic evidence (both in the Old,
and in the New Worlds) indicating chicken origins and diffusion in
his article. These arguments are complex, and I will not go into
them at this stage. I will provide just a brief summary.
First of all, there are two main families of names for chickens used
in S. America (not including those small areas where Spanish _gallo_
has been accepted into use). They seem to indicate connections with
the Old World as follows.
HUALPA = PIL (Hindu) = PILIJ (Turkey) = PULE (Greece)
KARA = KUKRI (Hindustani) = KHURUS (Persia)
      Among the curiosa of this collection of names is the discovery
      that among the Tarahumar the name for chickens is _totori_,
      which duplicates the Japanese name. (p. 207)
(I would like to indicate here that I'm not basing any claims ONLY
on this seeming similarity in names. Such claims, as I found in
these discussions, tend to please greatly those who already incline
to accepting diffusion, while leaving the opponents cold.)
One general rule about linguistic evidence seems to make good sense:
      The rule seems to be that where the chicken was well
      established among a population that remained numerically
      dominant, the native name was retained, ...
Carter continues by drawing a parallel with the name of another
important agricultural staple:
      ... just as in America _maize_ was retained in the area where
      Indians survived, whereas _corn_ was substituted in the
      British lands where the Indians were extinguished. (p. 196)
This is very important. The evidence of diffusion from the Old World
indicates strongly that tribes and peoples tend to _borrow_ existing
names when they acquire some new cultural item from other peoples,
and not to invent new names. But in those areas where the genocide
of the native peoples was entirely accomplished by the colonizers,
or in those areas where chickens were unknown to natives (Venezuela)
the Spanish names won.
      The northern Venezuelan Arawak had no chickens at contact,
      lack an Indian name for them, but call the chicken _gallina_,
      clearly revealing a Spanish source. (p. 206)
Just as was to be expected... I have already cited an account by Acosta
from contact times where he expressed his great surprise that the natives
had their own names for chickens. 
Here are a couple of summaries by Carter about linguistic evidence:
      The variety of names for the chicken and the scarcity of
      European names are suggestive of antiquity and of non-European
      origins. (p. 202)
      The gist of data from names is that, except in areas where the
      chicken was absent at contact times and the introduction is
      known to have been by Spaniards, the names used are non-
      Spanish. Names vary considerably, suggesting plural
      introductions, or much time, or both. Three names, one in S.
      America, one in C. America, and one in Mexico, seem directly
      related to Asiatic names for the chicken. (p. 209)
(Some of these linguistic similarities are given above.)
I have given here only a brief summary of Carter's arguments. I barely
touched upon important arguments he makes about great cultural and ritual
significance of chickens around the world, and the details about wide
diffusion of these cultural traits. Clearly, there are significant
parallels between these traditional cultural traits in America, and the
similar traits in Asia. For instance, he brings in obscure materials from
cock-fighting literature: 
      The total picture of [American] cockfighting is more
      suggestive of a pre-Spanish pattern of Asiatic practices.
      Authors flatly contradict one another on the pre- or post-
      Spanish presence of cockfighting in America and seem unaware
      of the wider implications of their data elsewhere. (p. 213)
Cock-fighting was of course one of the most ancient sports around
the world. 

(Carter also analyses a curious case in Egypt, where the chicken was
present and apparently used ritually by the Pharaohs very early on
{around the time of Thutmose, in 1501-1447 bce}, but was not a widely
spread household bird for another 1000 years or so. {p. 187}). 
I skipped most of the zoological data that Carter goes into, and
also most of his linguistic analyses. There's a lot of important
material in there. He also provides many helpful maps illustrating
diffusion of chickens and their names.
I trust I presented his arguments fairly. But what about the
clincher? Sure, I have one... If my opponents, those of the "Instant
Embrace Of The Chicken By The Natives" camp are still unpersuaded, I
have saved what I believe to be the clinching argument for the end.
This argument is that the chicken was present ALL OVER the Pacific
islands pre-contact (pp. 196ff.). The strains were all Asian. The
ritual uses were all similar to those both in Asia and in the
      Easter Island, the closest of the Polynesian group to America,
      is of special interest... Metraux (1940) has supplied
      considerable information on the chicken in his study of the
      island. Chickens were found abundant at the time of contact.
      (p. 197)
So there we are, ladies and gentlemen. Could we really suppose that
the chicken had "flown" all around across the Pacific -- as far as
the Easter Island -- as it did -- but failed to make it across the
last stretch of water before the American continent? And with all
the arguments that Carter gave, as I indicate in this essay, can we
really suppose that all these well attested Asian connections of
American chickens are merely a mirage? That the Spanish accomplished
a miraculous "Blitzkrieg Of Introduction" of the sort of a bird they
didn't themselves know before -- and of all those ritual uses
associated with it (how's that again?!) and the natives merrily went
along for the ride? Excuse me while I chuckle...
Best regards,

            =O=    Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto    =O=
  --- a webpage like any other...  http://www.io.org/~yuku ---
It matters [whether Monte Alban ceramics reflect Chinese art forms]
because questions of human inventiveness and the nature of human
freedom are involved, and these are pivotal for the understanding of
humans everywhere.  D. Frazer, THEORETICAL ISSUES IN THE TRANS-
PACIFIC CONTROVERSY, Social Research, 32 (1965) p. 453, as quoted by
J. Needham.

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