Fowl as Food: Rules, Obligations and Ceremonies

Organizer: 
Marco Antonio Vásquez-Dávila
Email address: 
Proposal Type: 
50 min prerecorded session - see below for format options
Session Date and Time: 
Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 15:00 to 16:15

What makes some birds edible and others inedible? What determines which birds are hunted or domesticated? Hunting birds is not a simple matter of finding and killing them. Many cultures have rules for preparing to hunt that involve abstinence, fasting, and ceremonies. Domestic birds are also connected with ceremonies to enhance the flock or protect the birds. Ceremonies demonstrate reciprocal obligations between birds and humans. What are the rules for sharing? What overlap is there between edible and medicinal birds? What of wild birds that are captured and then raised for food? The papers in this session explore these and other aspects of relationships with birds that are killed and eaten, and the obligations and responsibilities associated with hunting and raising birds for food. These include turkeys, ducks, chickens, grouse, and parrots.

Time
(UTC-7)
Abstract
15:00
Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
Author(s):
Anderson
, Eugene - University of California, Riverside

The Yucatec Maya of Quintana Roo know and recognize over a hundred species of birds.  Three are common domesticates.  Several larger wild birds are occasional game birds.  Many species are kept as pets.  Some birds, largely nocturnal, are evil omens.  Others are used in love magic.  All birds except the worst omens are appreciated and considered delightful.  This paper will concentrate on food uses of domestic and game birds. 

15:12
Presentation format: 
Oral (pre-recorded)
Author(s):
Martínez-Betancourt
, Julio Ismael - Jardín Botánico Nacional, Universidad de La Habana, Cuba

In Cuban religions with African antecedents (mainly in the Orisa Religion), fowl are offered to the deities and eaten by the participants in post-ritual festivities. The objective of this presentation is to describe and analyze the relationship of birds with deities and humans, their Yoruba names, used part and form of use. Information was obtained through open-ended interviews to religious practitioners and participant observation. Birds and their consecrated deities are: roosters (Phasianidae) to Eleguá, white pigeons (Columbidae) to Obatala, yellow hens to Oṣun, black hens to Orúnmila, ducks (Anatidae) to Yemayá and guinea fowl (Numididae) to Babalú Ayé. The bird corresponding to each deity has a close archetypal relationship with it, either by color, habitat or its role in cosmogonic or etiological myths. Other structures and fluids involved in rituals are feathers, eggs, viscera and blood. When birds are used in ritual cleansing, they are not consumed by people.

15:24
Presentation format: 
Oral (pre-recorded)
Author(s):
Manzanero-Medina
, Gladys Isabel - CIIDIR-Instituto Politécnico Nacional-Unidad Oaxaca
Vásquez-Dávila
, Marco Antonio - Instituto Tecnológico del Valle de Oaxaca

Iztapalapa is located in the Valley of Mexico in the basin of Lake Texcoco, a brackish water lake. In this Nahuatl territory there were chinampas from pre-Hispanic times until the mid-twentieth century. Vegetables, flowers, corn and beans were grown in these man-made islets. In these lands and in the shallow waters of the lake various migratory water birds were trapped or hunted for food purposes (e.g., ducks, chichicuilotes, geese and coots). The ornithological gastronomy of Iztapalapa was and continues to be very diversified in terms of the use of wild and domesticated birds. Nowadays, pipianes and moles (both red and green) are complex dishes that can contain duck, goose, turkey or chicken meat. Before the desiccation of the lake occurred and the government expropriated the chinampas, the coots and chichicuilotes were consumed. In this paper we will talk about these recipes and their permanence in the current cuisine of Iztapalapa.

15:36
Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
Author(s):
Ignace
, Ronald - Simon Fraser University and Skeetchestn Indian Band (Secwepemc Nation)
Ignace
, Marianne - Simon Fraser University and Skeetchestn Indian Band (Secwepemc Nation)

In the Secwepemc way of thinking of, and interacting with, spel̓̓qwéqs (Bald Eagles) and spi7úy (Golden Eagles) on our land, we first must think back to what our ancient stories, stsptekwll, tell us about human-eagle interactions. They involve people-eating eagles, our ancient transformers vanquishing their powers, and marking the beginning of eagle feathers becoming signs of human power, truthfulness, and chiefly authority.  How can we make sense of these stories? Beyond face-values, in both physical ways of species interactions and holistic and metaphysical ways of how our ancestors construed interrelations, what do they tell us about our ancestors‘ interactions with Eagles as animals, but also as powerful beings on the land? In this paper we will explore Secwepemc-Eagle interactions, their symbolism, what Eagles and humans consume, and how this guides us into the future as we hope to continue to coexist with them. 

15:48
Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
Author(s):
Hull
, Kerry - Brigham Young University
Fergus
, Rob - Department of Geography, Planning, and Sustainability: Rowan University

For the Ch’orti’ Maya of southern Guatemala, turkeys are the most sacred and revered of birds. In this paper, we explain the mythological underpinnings that elevate the turkey in Ch’orti’ society. We link the mythic execution of the god Katata’, whose avatar is the turkey, to agricultural rituals among Ch’orti’ Maya. We show how these field ceremonies are re-enactments of the moment the God of Agriculture was sacrificed in distant times. We further argue that the act of pouring turkey blood into holes in the four corners and center of the cornfield symbolically “impregnates” the field, representing the moment germination occurs to create a fecund field. Turkey blood “animates” the ground, by “feeding” the Earth God, which is likely an extension of the symbolism of turkey blood and corn among the Ch’orti’. Finally, place turkey in a larger ritual context by describing their use as food in various other ceremonies.

16:00
Presentation format: 
Oral (pre-recorded)
Author(s):
Vásquez-Dávila
, Marco Antonio - Instituto Tecnológico del Valle de Oaxaca
Vásquez-Cruz
, Rosalinda - Instituto Tecnológico del Valle de Oaxaca
Cruz-Jacinto
, Marco A. - Instituto Tecnológico del Valle de Oaxaca
Manzanero-Medina
, Gladys Isabel - CIIDIR-Instituto Politécnico Nacional-Unidad Oaxaca

The incorporation of birds in the human diet dates from prehistory and it is a common practice worldwide. To obtain birds, our ancestors began hunting birds and collecting eggs; subsequently they invented poultry farming. The turkey was domesticated in pre-Hispanic Mexico and later native cultures incorporated chickens as food in the 16th century. The fowl eaten in Oaxaca are domestic and wild: chickens, turkeys, ducks, chachalacas, pigeons, quail, among others. The ethnic territory inhabited by the Huaves, Chontales and Zapotecos is the Sierra Sur and the Pacific coast and there is a birdlife historically shared by them. Each cultural tradition makes differential use of birds. Chontales, known for their hunting tradition, use more birds (n = 13) than Zapotec farmers (n = 10) and these, in turn, eat more birds than the Huave fishermen (n = 6). In summary, Mesoamerican societies eat fowl according to their cultural traditions.