Nomad aesthetic: Cattle modifications among the northern Turkana of north west Kenya

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Abstract

Among the Turkana of north western Kenya, as well as in many other eastern African pastoral societies, cattle are not only a source of food but also an essential tool for a man to establish his own concepts of aesthetic and to visibly express his own personal identity and social relationships among his people. A Turkana man achieves these objectives by choosing a specific male cow and then modifying its external appearance with branding to permanent alter the coat, with a forceful modification of the growth direction of the horns, and with peculiar cuttings of the ear margins and dewlap. These modern-day practices are identical to the images of cattle present in numerous Neolithic rock art scenes over widespread geographical areas. This present-day Turkana custom may facilitate a correct interpretation of prehistoric rock art and help to understand the systems of thoughts, values and aesthetic perceptions of long-vanished prehistoric pastoral societies.

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APA

Dioli, M. (2018). Nomad aesthetic: Cattle modifications among the northern Turkana of north west Kenya. Pastoralism, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13570-017-0110-4

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