Bedouin Ethnobotany Chapter 1

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<p>Bedouin Ethnobotany</p> <p>Bedouin EthnobotanyPlant Concepts and Uses in a Desert Pastoral Worldj a m e s p . m a n d av i l l e</p> <p>The University of Arizona Press Tucson</p> <p>To Kevin, Riki, and Peter, who have traveled these lands And to Ike, who someday might</p> <p>The University of Arizona Press 2011 The Arizona Board of Regents All rights reserved www.uapress.arizona.edu Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Mandaville, James P. Bedouin ethnobotany : plant concepts and uses in a desert pastoral world / James P. Mandaville. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. IBN 978-0-8165-2900-1 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. BedouinsArabian PeninsulaEthnobotany. 2. Bedouins Arabian PeninsulaSocial life and customs. 3. EthnobotanyArabian Peninsula. 4. Pastoral systemsArabian Peninsula. 5. Desert plants Arabian Peninsula. 6. Desert ecologyArabian Peninsula. 7. Plant names, PopularArabian Peninsula. 8. PlantsReligious aspects Islam. 9. Arabian PeninsulaSocial life and customs. I. Title. DS36.9.B4M36 2011 581.6930953dc22 2010044069</p> <p>Manufactured in the United States of America on acid-free, archival-quality paper containing a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste and processed chlorine free. 16 15 14 13 12 11 6 5 4 3 2 1</p> <p>Contents</p> <p>List of Illustrations Preface xi</p> <p>ix</p> <p>Acknowledgments</p> <p>xv</p> <p>Introduction 1 I.1 Scope, Previous Work, and Research Chronology 1 I.2 Consultants, Language, and Working Procedures 5 I.2.1 Consultants 6 I.2.2 Najdi Arabic 6 I.2.3 Transcription of Bedouin Speech 10 I.2.4 Working Procedures 10 1. The Land 14 1.1 Geology and Topography 14 1.2 Climate 21 1.3 Vegetation and Flora 28 1.3.1 Rimth Saltbush Shrubland 29 1.3.2 Arfaj Shrubland 30 1.3.3 Thmam Grass-Shrubland 31 1.3.4 CalligonumArtemisia Sand Shrubland 32 1.3.5 Ephedra Shrubland 32 1.3.6 AchilleaArtemisia Silt Basin Association 33 1.3.7 Ghaa Shrubland 33 1.3.8 Hadh Saltbush Shrubland 34 1.3.9 Rub al-Khali Abal Shrubland 34 1.3.10 Succulent Halophyte Associations 34 1.3.11 Shrubless Community Types 34 1.3.12 Microcommunities 35 1.3.13 The Annual Cycle of Plant Growth 35</p> <p> c o n t e n t s</p> <p>2. The People 38 2.1 Bedouin Life 38 2.2 Bedouin Tribes 46 2.2.1 Al Murrah 47 2.2.2 Bani Hajir 48 2.2.3 Al-Ujman 49 2.2.4 Qahtan 50 2.2.5 Ad-Dawasir 50 2.2.6 Shammar 50 2.2.7 Ar-Ruwalah 51 2.2.8 Bani Khalid 52 2.2.9 Mutayr 52 3. Stars, Land, and Plants: An Annual Round of Bedouin Life 53 4. Plants for Use 79 4.1 Plants for Livestock Grazing and Browse 79 4.1.1 The Camel 80 4.1.2 Toxic and Noxious Plants 97 4.2 Fuel and Fire Making 100 4.3 Wild Plants for Food 105 4.3.1 Roots, Tubers, and Bulbs 106 4.3.2 Edible Stalks or Stems 109 4.3.3 Greens Eaten Raw 111 4.3.4 Edible Fruits and Flowers 114 4.3.5 Seeds and Grains 116 4.3.6 Gums and Other Exudates 119 4.3.7 Flavorings and Food Additives 120 4.3.8 Truffles and Mushrooms 120 4.4 Medicinal Uses of Plants 128 4.4.1 Arthritic Complaints 129 4.4.2 Cold Remedies 130 4.4.3 Emetics 131 4.4.4 Eye Conditions 131 4.4.5 Womens Conditions 131 4.4.6 Fevers 133 4.4.7 Kidney Ailments 133</p> <p>c o n t e n t s </p> <p>4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8</p> <p>4.4.8 Laxatives 134 4.4.9 Skin Afflictions and Wounds 135 4.4.10 Snakebite and Scorpion Stings 135 4.4.11 Stomach Ailments 136 4.4.12 Tonics 136 4.4.13 Toothache 136 4.4.14 Insect Repellents 137 4.4.15 Psychotropic Plants 137 4.4.16 Veterinary Medicinals 138 Tanning and Dyestuffs 140 Soaps, Cosmetics, Dental Hygiene Products, and Incense 143 Gunpowder, Crafts, and Construction 150 Plants in Childrens Play 154</p> <p>5. Plants as Concept and Name 156 5.1 The Origin and Purpose of Plant Life 156 5.1.1 Plants and the Supernatural 157 5.1.2 Plants in Bedouin Cosmology 159 5.2 Plant Anatomical Terms 160 5.3 Classification and Nomenclature 163 5.3.1 The Development of Folk Classification Theory 163 5.3.2 Plants as a Kingdom 178 5.3.3 Life Forms 182 5.3.4 Intermediate Categories 190 5.3.5 Folk Generics and Subgenerics 198 5.3.6 Some Linguistic Aspects of Plant Names 206 5.3.7 Variation in Generic Names 215 5.3.8 Growth-Stage Generics 217 5.3.9 Classification and Subsistence Mode 218 5.3.10 Summary and Statistics: Folk Classification and Nomenclature 228 5.4 Plants as Vegetation and Place 232 5.4.1 General Terminology Related to Plants 232 5.4.2 Plants and Topography 235 6. Generics and Subgenerics: A Descriptive List 240</p> <p> c o n t e n t s</p> <p>7. Bedouin Plant Lore in Space and Time 331 7.1 A Greater Geography and History 331 7.2 Indigenous Botanical Knowledge in a Changing World 340 Appendix A. Present-Day and Early Islamic Plant Names 345 Appendix B. Plant Remedies Collected from Herbalists Shops 355 Works Cited 363</p> <p>General Index 373 Index of Arabic Plant Names 381 Index of Scientific Plant Names 391</p> <p>Contents of CD-ROM in Back Pocket Appendix C. Plants of the Bedouin Lexicon Arranged by Botanical Family Supplementary Photographs Terrain and Plant Communities The People The Plants Sound Clip: A Bedouin Song, with Translation and Notes</p> <p>Illustrations</p> <p>Figures 1.1. Arabian Peninsula, showing study area 15 1.2. Central and northern Arabian Peninsula, showing place-names mentioned in the text 16 1.3. Sands of the Jafurah in the southern coastal plain 17 1.4. Dune lands of the Dahna 20 1.5. Monthly average temperature and humidity at Abqaiq 24 1.6. Mean wind speed and direction at Abqaiq 26 1.7. Dense stands of arfaj northwest of an-Nuayriyah 31 1.8. Thmam grass-shrubland on the coast near Ras Tanajib 33 2.1. Consultant Juhaysh ibn Mutlaq of the Dawasir tribe displays coffee-making implements 41 2.2. Consultant Muhammad ibn Khursan with relatives 44 3.1. Consultants Khulayf of the Shammar tribe and Muhammad ibn Khursan of Qahtan 54 3.2. Erecting the house of hair 59 3.3. A sister and brother of the Al Murrah tribe return with edible wild plants 71 4.1. Bedouin classification of livestock 80 4.2. Loading a baggage camel with water 82 4.3. Finished cakes of igt, dried cheese made from soured milk 84 4.4. Consultant Ali ibn Hamad of Al Murrah using dried camel dung for fuel 86 4.5. Camels watering at a drilled well 88 4.6. Loading camel gear for a move 90 4.7. A desert truffle cracking the ground 121 4.8. A truffle excavated 122 4.9. Hunting truffles 123 4.10. Desert truffles for sale in an open market 124</p> <p>x l s t o f l lu s t rat o n s</p> <p>4.11. A dried plant of kaftah, Anastatica hierochuntica, used as a medicinal to ease childbirth 132 4.12. A miswak, or toothbrush, made from a root of the rak shrub 147 4.13. A consultant of the Bani Hajir tribe demonstrates how he hobbles his camel 153 5.1. Bedouin names for parts of a shrublet 161 5.2. Relationships of lexeme types 168 5.3. Diagram of Berlin, Breedlove, and Ravens 1973 folk classification model 169 5.4. Telescoping Venn diagram of Berlin 1992 172 5.5. Plant life form encoding sequence and language stages 174 5.6. Bedouin plant life forms 184 5.7. Bedouin life forms, intermediates, and unaffiliated generics 198 5.8. Composition of the generic hurbuth 202 7.1. Changing times: arrival of the minipickup 340 Tables I.1. Bedouin Arabic phonetics and transcription 11 1.1. Rainfall data, Eastern Province stations 23 1.2. Mean annual evaporation rates, south-central to eastern Saudi Arabia 25 1.3. P/PE ratios for three study area stations 28 1.4. Survey data, rimth saltbush shrubland 30 1.5. Annuals in arfaj shrubland 32 5.1. The seven ham plants 193 5.2. Bedouin polytypic folk generics 204 5.3. Statistical summary of scientific and folk taxa 232 7.1. Comparison of Western Saharan and Najdi Arabic plant names 332 A.1. Generics and Life Forms 346</p> <p>Preface</p> <p>I have to slip into a bit of personal history to explain how a study like this comes crawling out of forty years woodwork. I began collecting Bedouin Arabic plant names and plant-related terminology in the early 1960s when I worked for the Arabian American Oil Company at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, as a practical Arabist attached to the companys Arabian Research Unit. This unit was an academic-style research group, part of the companys Government Relations Department, set up to help interpret Arabian geography, people, customs, and language for its then allAmerican management. It was an organization in many respects unique in the business world at the time. Several areas of work took our small group into active contact with the Bedouin population of the kingdom. We did stints in remote desert areas, such as along the Trans-Arabian Pipeline across northern Arabia, where the population was made up almost entirely of Bedouins. On field relations assignments, we negotiated with herders over the value of camels lost in oil field sumps (these camels were somehow always pregnant females of the most highly prized breeds). Our Research Units office was based in Dhahran, and we generally gained more field experience by bringing to ourselves members of various Bedouin tribes whom we hired as part-time relators, the term informant being thought stigmatized by intelligence-gathering connotations. (Looking back now, I wonder if the term relators was chosen by our early chief, the Arabist and historian George Rentz, as a conscious translation of the early Islamic word rawi that I describe in chapter 7.) At the same time, we scrounged field trips with better-equipped company departments, such as the oil-exploration crews, or, often in my case, took to the desert ourselves on weekends with our personal Land Rovers and Bedouin acquaintances as guides. We were encouraged to collect all kinds of information about the tribes in whose territory the company carried out its operations. We were the corporate authority, along with the Law Department, on the boundaries</p> <p>xii p r e fac e</p> <p>of Saudi Arabia. These boundaries, many of them then still undemarcated and in active dispute with neighboring states, were of vital interest inasmuch as in many cases they legally defined the companys oil concession area. International boundary claims in lands with a nomadic population often revolved around traditional tribal grazing ranges and the distribution of tribal home wells. Which states tribes grazed where, and who, by long practice and tradition, owned what water wells? At the same time, we were charged with providing place-names, both in Arabic and in standardized transliteration, for Saudi Arabias first nationwide series of aerial photo-based maps. We worked over the data bit by bit with a roomful of Bedouin consultants chosen for their knowledge of each geographical area. As I worked day to day with these masters of desert lore, the Bedouins, I noticed that they often used the names of plants in describing the boundaries or characteristics of different geographical areas. Their version of geography sometimes seemed to involve as much botany as topography. Having something of a penchant for natural history, I began collecting the Bedouins names for plants and tried to learn the plants scientific identities with available references, which for Arabia were preciously scant in those days. I built up, alongside my other duties, card catalogs of Bedouin plant names and vegetation terminology. I took a correspondence course in plant taxonomy, read taxonomic textbooks, and exchanged letters with European botanists with Middle East experience. In addition, I collected in my spare time several thousand plant specimens for herbaria such as that of the Natural History Museum, London. These specimens, which in part constituted vouchers for vernacular names, formed the basis for a standard taxonomic flora of eastern Saudi Arabia (Mandaville 1990). At one point, I began drafting a paper to be titled Bedouin Concepts of the Plant World, but I filed it when the Research Unit was shut down and its staff dispersed. I became occupied in more mundane aspects of oil company work. Sometime around 1975, I came across a review of Brent Berlin, Dennis Breedlove, and Peter Ravens now classic book Principles of Tzeltal Plant Classification (1974). Open-mouthed and wide-eyed, stumbling a bit through the unfamiliar jargon, I marveled at how these authors had done with the Tzeltal-speaking people of southeastern Mexico just what I had once thought of doing with the Arabic-speaking Bedouins of east-</p> <p>p r e fac e xiii</p> <p>ern Arabia. But they had done it in an incomparably more complete and theory-based manner. Poring through the references in this work, I discovered that a theoretical base for folk classifications study had been developing over some twenty years, and I scrambled to catch up. I think of this foray into Bedouin Arabic plant lore as the long-delayed joining of two loves: the desert-adapted plants of Arabia and the remarkable people who have followed them, prayed for their germination, named them, and depended on them for their livelihood for thousands of years.</p>

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