The Hunter, the Stag, and the Mother of Animals: Image, Monument, and Landscape in Ancient North…

Hardcover | April 28, 2015

byEsther Jacobson-Tepfer

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The ancient landscape of North Asia gave rise to a mythic narrative of birth, death, and transformation that reflected the hardship of life for ancient nomadic hunters and herders. Of the central protagonists, we tend to privilege the hero hunter of the Bronze Age and his re-incarnation as awarrior in the Iron Age. But before him and, in a sense, behind him was a female power, half animal, half human. From her came permission to hunt the animals of the taiga, and by her they were replenished. She was, in other words, the source of the hunter's success. The stag was a latecomer to thistale, a complex symbol of death and transformation embedded in what ultimately became a struggle for priority between animal mother and hero hunter. From this region there are no written texts to illuminate prehistory, and the hundreds of burials across the steppe reveal little relating to myth and belief before the late Bronze Age. What they do tell us is that peoples and cultures came and went, leaving behind huge stone mounds, altars, andstanding stones as well as thousands of petroglyphic images. With The Hunter, the Stag, and the Mother of Animals, Esther Jacobson-Tepfer uses that material to reconstruct the prehistory of myth and belief in ancient North Asia. Her narrative places monuments and imagery within the context of thephysical landscape and by considering all three elements as reflections of the archaeology of belief. Within that process, paleoenvironmental forces, economic innovations, and changing social order served as pivots of mythic transformation. With this vividly illustrated study, Jacobson-Tepfer bringstogether for this first time in any language Russian and Mongolian archaeology with prehistoric representational traditions of South Siberia and Mongolia in order to explore the non-material aspects of these fascinating prehistoric cultures.

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The ancient landscape of North Asia gave rise to a mythic narrative of birth, death, and transformation that reflected the hardship of life for ancient nomadic hunters and herders. Of the central protagonists, we tend to privilege the hero hunter of the Bronze Age and his re-incarnation as awarrior in the Iron Age. But before him and, ...

Esther Jacobson-Tepfer is Maude I. Kerns Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of Oregon, and author or co-author of four books.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 9.25 × 6.5 × 0.98 inPublished:April 28, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019020236X

ISBN - 13:9780190202361

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations: Maps, FiguresPreface1. The Transformation of Image, Object and Belief in Prehistoric North Asia2. The Appearance of the Animal Mother3. The Persistence of Liminal Beings4. The Mother of Animals5. The Emergence of Pictorial Narrative6. Intimations of Death and Transformation7. The End of Naturalism in Nomadic Art8. The Pivot Between Life and Death9. Traces of Ancient Beliefs10. The Archaeology of BeliefAppendix: The Dating of Rock ArtList of AbbreviationsBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"The Hunter, the Stag, and the Mother of Animals is an important book not only in terms of its value as a scientific treatise nonpareil but also as an elegant exploration of the prehistoric human mind with implications far beyond the geographical and temporal focus of Jacobson-Tepfer's study.Her lucid, informative and entertaining writing is complemented by superb illustrations, including world-class photographs contributed by her husband, world-renowned photographer, Gary Tepfer." --John W. Olsen, University of Arizona