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ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS  May 2019

ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS May 2019

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Subject:

Roles of women as revealed by prehistoric art

From:

Atelier Etno <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Atelier Etno <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 3 May 2019 07:44:34 +0300

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text/plain

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Dear colleague and friend,
What can we learn on the role of women in society from prehistoric and
tribal art? What are male and female images revealing to us about the
gender relations in the course of ages? This topic will be considered
in a forthcoming issue of EXPRESSION quarterly journal and submission
of pertinent papers is welcome.
Human society has a variety of structures, where crowded urban
congregations exist along with tribal agricultural villages and
nomadic clans of hunters. These three and other patterns of society
can also live in the vicinity of each other. Near the town of Darwin in
Australia, there are clans of semi-nomadic Aboriginal
hunter-gatherers, near the town of Beer-Sheba in Israel, there are
tribes of semi-nomadic Bedouin pastoralists, near the town of Dodoma
in Tanzania, there are tribal farming villages, and semi-nomadic clans
of hunters-gatherers. Each society has its own
behavioral habits and male and female roles vary.
Urban societies are a cultural pattern of the last 5.000 years,
farming villages developed in the last 12.000 years, beforehand the
entire humanity was made of hunting-gathering semi-nomadic groups.
These various patterns of societies have the common feature of being
all composed of groups or families, nuclear or larger, where the
actors are men and women. What kind of relations existed between men
and women in these different societies in the past? Social structures, economic
activities, ritual and ceremonial performances, usually concede
different tasks to males and females. How can art, and in particular
rock art, contribute in this search for a vital aspect of human
relations?
The roles of the two genders vary in different types of social
assemblages or ethnic groups, but some functions are permanently
assigned to one of the two genders. Men cannot become pregnant and
have children; they cannot milk newborns and in various societies they are
considering unfit to take care of them. Pregnant or milking women are
unfit for fighting or heavy tasks. Among hunter-gatherers, women are
considered to be unfit for elephant or buffalo hunting. Following up
the prey, killing it, cutting its meat, separating it from the
carcass, carrying the quarters of meat for miles to the gathering
place of the clan is the task of men. Each gender has its specific
function in society, which
may vary from society to society.
Other gender tasks may vary according to the social patterns. Cooking
food is a primarily male task among hunting societies and female task
among farming societies, building huts and other structures is usually
a male task, decorating such buildings is frequently a female task.
 Millions of images of men and women are present in rock art and in
mobile art of five continents. They have been made by different
people, men and women, of different human societies in the course of
millennia.  What can we learn from all that on gender relations and in
particular on the role of women in different societies? In some groups of
prehistoric and tribal art female images are dominant, in others they
are ignored. In some groups of rock art, female divinities are
represented, in others, women appear as sexual objects, in others
again, they appear in gracious dancing and in ritual scenes.
 Colleagues and friends, males and females, from different countries,
are cordially invited to propose their ideas and their articles, each
on his/her study or concern, for reaching together a global overview, on a
fascinating theme, relevant for understanding ethnic, local and also
global trends. Please join us in the trial of understanding the
variability of a vital aspect of human relations, gender relations.
Present your article, ideas and suggestions, or ask for additional
information to <[log in to unmask]>.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Cordially,
Emmanuel Anati
(President, ATELIER Research Center for Conceptual Anthropology;
Editor, EXPRESSION quarterly journal)

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