The Mbuti as hunters : a study of ecological anthropology of the Mbuti pygmies (1)

  • The Mbuti people, "the pygmies of the Ituri Forest", have long been considered the nucleus of pygmy groups in Equatorial Africa, and have been studied by Sche besta, Gusinde, Putnam, and Turnbull. to name a few. Most of these studies were mainly somatometrical or concerned with the society, culture and religion, for the most part overlooking the ecological aspect. Until this time, few studies made by researchers directly involved in observing and participating in the hunting-gathering style of life have gone into an in-depth, ecology-focused approach to that life. C. M. Turnbull, in his book, "The Mbuti Pygmies: An Ethnographic Survey" (1965a), divides the Mbuti people into net hunters and archers. and summarizes ethnographic data gathered by Schebesta and Putnam, which he then uses to compare the two groups. He makes the point that the hunting-gathering economy exerts a great influence upon Mbuti society and ideology, tending to regulate their way of life. However. his data and analysis of actual hunting activities do not seem sufficient enough to prove this point. The same is the case with previous research of band societies around the world: It has often been stated that a hunting-gathering economy brings forth nomadism, division of labor according to sex, co-operation of labor, egalitarianism, distribution of food among the group, etc. Subsequently, studies have been undertaken to discover how these factors work to regulate the social life, social structure and ideology of a given hunting-gathering group. However, each time substantial investigation of the various hunting and food gathering activities themselves. which support the hunting-gathering economy, seems to have been left out. Cultural anthropologists who take the standpoint of cultural ecology discuss the relationships between the culture of a given group and its natural environment, but they make only a general description of both the natural environment involved, and of the actual association of the culture to that environment. This paper. as the first report on the ecological-anthropological studies of the Mbuti people. deals mainly with hunting, one of their subsistence activities. illustrating its various features and attempting to discuss the data I have obtained. Since the focus of this paper is on hunting activities, I will not cover the general life of the Mbuti people; the more general economic activities, social life, ideology, and so on. I will deal with these problems in another report. Here, I want to make it the ultimate object to gain clearer comprehension of Mbuti life, society, and mentality by concentrating on Mbuti hunting, which is closely connected with nature. This account obtained by first-hand observation of hunting activities, will illustrate the general hunting methods of the Mbuti people, and discuss the mode of existence of the Mbuti band. T. Tanno is to make a more detailed analysis of net hunting.

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Author:Reizo Harako
Parent Title (English):Kyoto University African studies
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2010/05/05
Year of first Publication:1976
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2010/05/05
Page Number:63
First Page:37
Last Page:99
Signatur: Zsq 5565
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 39 Bräuche, Etikette, Folklore / 390 Bräuche, Etikette, Folklore
Sammlungen:Afrika südlich der Sahara
Licence (German):License LogoArchivex. zur Lesesaalplatznutzung § 52b UrhG