FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
RUS | ENG

Antropologicheskij forum, 2016, no. 28

 

FEASTS OF MERIT IN WESTERN EUROPE: MEDIEVAL IRISH BRIUGAS  AND TRADITIONS OF PUBLIC FEASTING IN SOUTH AND SOUTH EAST ASIA

Dmitry Nikolaev

Russian State University for the Humanities
6 Miusskaya Sq., Moscow, Russia
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Adminstration
82 Prospect Vernadskogo, Moscow, Russia
dsnikolaev()gmail.com

Abstract: This paper presents an attempt at providing a new interpretation for the institute of briugas — public feasting held by wealthy farmers in order to advance their social standing — described in early medieval Irish legal treatises and narrative texts. This institute is interpreted as a variation on the tradition of feasts of merit widespread in South and both continental and insular South East Asia, which was considered to be completely absent in Western Europe. I give an overview of the institute of briugas as it is described in early sources and present comparanda: ethnographic descriptions of feasts of merit among the Kalash (Pakistan), Sangtam Naga (north-eastern India), and Ifugao (Philippines). Analysis of early Irish legal sources in light of this data leads to the conclusion that due to its heterarchical structure, early Irish society retained (or recreated) an extremely archaic social custom, which is also possibly reported by the Greek ethnographers for the continental Celtic societies.

Keywords: feasts of merit, South East Asia, heterarchy, early Irish law.

To cite: Nikolaev D., 'Pochetnye piry v Zapadnoy Yevrope: srednevekovyy irlandskiy institut briugu i traditsii publichnogo ugoshcheniya v Yuzhnoy i Yugo-Vostochnoy Azii' [Feasts of Merit in Western Europe: Medieval Irish Briugas and Traditions of Public Feasting in South and South East Asia], Antropologicheskij forum, 2016, no. 28, pp. 180–198.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/028/nikolaev.pdf