Friday, January 10, 2014

Ask the readers: Animals

One year ago today, we adopted a cat from the local shelter. Tali'Miller-Camp vas Iowa (yes, that is a Mass Effect reference) is a pet- an animal kept for pleasure. But unless your SCA persona is upper class and probably late period, the animals s/he could have kept are unlikely to have been purely pets- they would have had some sort of practical use.

What kind of animals did your persona (or their culture if not them, specifically) keep? What breed? Is it or breeds descended from it still around today? What were they used for?

Unlike my other "Ask the Readers", I can actually answer this one! Collectively, Sarmatians kept horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs.

Apologies for the lack of centering (it's at the top).
Turns out I don't have an image of this on my computer.
I'll replace it with a better version when I get home.

The sheep and cattle they kept for food, wool, and leather. Scythians did too and you can see an example of Scythians making a sheepskin shirt on a beautifully intricate torse made by the Greeks.

Mongolian horse and rider
Image source:

Their horses were their livelihood. They were meat, clothing, milk, wealth, transportation, and mounts all rolled into one. They would have been short and stocky compared to the horses we're accustomed to seeing in the West today- probably a lot like horses kept by modern steppe nomads.

Kazbegi type Georgian Mountain Dog
Image source:

Their dogs were big molossers who served as livestock guardians and war dogs. The dogs of the Sarmatians sensu stricto were Sarmatian Mastiffs. The breed kept by the Alans was the Alaunt (which would have been partially descended from the Sarmatian Mastiff. The word 'Alaunt' later came to be used for a general phenotype, rather than a particular breed, in Europe. The original Alaunt probably looked similar to the Kazbegi type Georgian Mountain Dog, which is probably a descendant.

(References will be when I get home. Sorry!)