Dog as an extended family member in Mongolia: Some implications for kinship concept
Gabriel Bamana (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David)
Paper short abstract:
Mongolian herders entertain a special relationship with their dogs. Next to being guardians of the herd against predators, a dog is very often considered an extended family member by herders. This presentation examines some features of this special relationship and dare to suggest some implications for our understanding of kinship concept.
Paper long abstract:
Recruitment into family and therefore an extension of kinship happens either by birth or by alliance. Amongst the many gift items Mongolian herders use to negotiate recruitment into family by affiliation are tea bricks. This process is entrenched into the symbolic connection between tea and family process. However, Mongolian herders do not use tea brick only as gift item to the bride family but they also exchange a tea brick to acquire a puppy dog. This is so because a dog, although not normally allowed to enter the home (ger), is nevertheless considered as an extended family member. Additionally, popular reincarnation beliefs in Mongolia suggest a dog to be one of the best animals a human being could incarnate into after death. This presentation examines some of the features of this special relationship Mongolian herders entertain with their dogs. Further, the presentation discusses some implications of family membership extension to dogs for the concept of kinship.