Any idea what you’d take from home if you started to roam?

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Robin Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver

PEO­PLE mis­tak­enly think that no­madic tribes just aim­lessly wan­der about their coun­try­side.

In fact, they tend to fol­low es­tab­lished routes, ar­rive at spe­cific places at cer­tain times of the year and can stay there for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time.

These routes are of­ten de­ter­mined by the weather at dif­fer­ent times of the year when it is nec­es­sary to move to warmer, drier ter­rain or when it is bet­ter to tem­po­rar­ily re­lo­cate to high or low ground.

Some­times, the routes lead to tra­di­tional meet­ing places where ex­tended fam­ily groups can gather to­gether to cel­e­brate cul­tural and re­li­gious oc­ca­sions and carry out im­por­tant com­mu­nal rit­u­als. The point is that whilst the pre­cise routes that no­madic groups may take will vary, there is al­ways a rou­tine and a struc­ture to their wan­der­ings.

This is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary for tribal ex­is­tence as there are times when an­i­mals need to graze and food needs to be gath­ered, even if it has not been farmed and just grows in the wild. Even the most “prim­i­tive” hunter-gath­erer so­ci­eties are acutely aware of this oth­er­wise they would have long since perished, as so many have done be­fore them.

When it was ex­plained to one no­mad that in our so­phis­ti­cated Western cul­ture, we tend to live in one home, in one place for long pe­ri­ods of time, he looked sad and wor­ried. He felt a deep sor­row that we would, there­fore, have to look at the same view ev­ery day, be sur­rounded by the same trees, the same build­ings, the same roads for ever and by be­ing so re­stricted, we would be all the poorer.

How­ever beau­ti­ful and in­spi­ra­tional the view might be, he saw this as akin to a self­in­flicted prison sen­tence. He also thought that hav­ing wardrobes and draw­ers full of clothes from which to choose the right ones to wear on any par­tic­u­lar day was irk­some, time-con­sum­ing and point­less.

How­ever, we should not think that no­madic peo­ple have no be­long­ings or that what they carry with them are the bare es­sen­tials of life. It is true that func­tional ob­jects such as a sim­ple cook­ing pot may be or­nately em­bel­lished so that it ful­fils both a prac­ti­cal need and also a dec­o­ra­tive and aes­thetic one at the same time. Some things like jew­ellery, head­dresses or masks are clearly not tools but a way to demon­strate so­cial po­si­tion and es­teem, wealth and power or sim­ply to dif­fer­en­ti­ate one per­son from another. They may be help­ful in at­tract­ing a hus­band or wife or en­sur­ing that so­cial cus­toms and laws are up­held or just make life that lit­tle bit more tol­er­a­ble.

Strangely enough, in that way, there sud­denly ap­pears to be rather less dif­fer­ence be­tween the no­mad car­ry­ing his rel­a­tively few pos­ses­sions from place to place and the way that we ac­cu­mu­late ours, whether for com­fort, en­ter­tain­ment, to at­tract the op­po­site sex or merely for a lit­tle bit of one-up­man­ship. So here’s a lit­tle game that can be played dur­ing a quiet mo­ment over the Christ­mas holidays. It is a lit­tle vari­a­tion on “What would you save from your home if it caught fire?” but this time it is “What would you take with you from home if you sud­denly be­came a no­mad?”

You might choose a trea­sured penknife that had been passed down from a grand­fa­ther, which has both func­tional and deeply sen­ti­men­tal res­o­nances, or it might be some­thing purely func­tional and ut­terly with­out soul like a sturdy pair of walk­ing boots. The choice is yours and you may, if you like, care to share your se­lec­tion with us.

If you would like to share you se­lec­tions and the rea­sons for them with Robin and Pat please email them care of sharon.dale@ jpress.co.uk

Robin and Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver are own­ers of The Home store at Salts Mill, Sal­taire, www. the­home­on­line.co.uk. For more in­for­ma­tion about Salts Mill, which also has a gallery of David Hock­ney paint­ings, shops, ex­hi­bi­tions, a large book store and restau­rants, visit www.saltsmill. org.uk

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