Key Issue 2

Why Is Folk Culture Clustered?

Influence of the Physical Environment

  • People living in folk cultures are more likely to grow their own food, use hand tools and animal power.
  • Climate, soil and vegetation effect customs such as clothing, food, and shelter.
  • Culture can ignore environmental factors.
  • Food and shelter are also necessities for life.

Food Preferences and the Environment

  • Folk food habits are embedded strongly through the environment.
  • People adapt their food preferences through their environment.
  • Many customs believe that everything in the natural world carries a distinctive characteristic depending on its appearance.
  • Some people would refuse to eat certain things based on the beliefs of their ethnic groups and their folk culture.
  • Taboo - restriction on behavior imposed by a social custom
  • The more common taboos can be found in the bible.
  • Hebrews could not eat animals that don't chew their cud or have cloven feet.
  • Taboos can arise from environmental factors.
  • Muslims cannot eat pork because of environmental factors.
  • Hindu's have taboos against eating cows because of environmental reasons.
  • Terrior - the contribution of a locations distinctive physical features to the way food tastes Is known.

Folk Housing and the Environment

  • The type of building materials used in a certain area are direct influences from the environment and its surrounding resources.
  • Pitched roofs are important in wet or snowy climates to help with runoff to reduce the weight on the roof.
  • MDC's have lumber cut by machines in factories to the desires shape and size.

Additional Information

  • Predispositions interact with aspects of the eating environment to produce food preferences.
  • Predispositions include the unlearned, reflexive reactions to basic tastes.

Isolation Promotes Cultural Diversity

  • A group's unique folk customs develop through centuries of relative isolation from customs practiced by other cultural groups.
  • Folk customs observed at a point in time vary widely from one place to another, even among nearby places.

Himalayan Art

  • In a study of artistic customs in the Himalayan Mountains, P. Karan and Cotton Mather demonstrated that distinctive views of the physical environment emerge among neighboring cultural groups that are isolated.
  • The study area contains four religious groups: Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and animists. Limited interaction among these groups produces distinctive folk customs.
  • Each groups reveals how their folk culture mirrors their religious and individual views of their environment through their choices of subjects and paintings.
  • The distribution of artistic subjects in the Himalayas shows how folk customs are influenced by cultural institutions like religion and by environmental processes such as climate, landforms, and vegetation.

Beliefs and Folk House Forms

  • The distinctive form of folk houses may derive primarily from religious values and other customary beliefs rather than from environmental factors.

  • Sacred Spaces

    • Houses may have sacred walls or corners.
      • In south-central Java, the front door always faces south, the direction of the South Sea Goddess, who holds the key to Earth.
      • In Madagascar, the main door is on the west, considered the most important direction, and the northeast corner is the most sacred.

  • U.S. Folk Housing

  • The Lower Chesapeake style of house typically compromised one story, with a steep roof and chimneys at either end.

  • The Middle Atlantic region's principal house type was known as the "I"-house, typically two full stories in height, with gables to the sides. It was only one room deep and at least two rooms wide.

  • The New England style consists of four major types that were popular at various times during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The house preferred by most New Englanders has changed over time but the predominant form found on the landscape varies based on the date of the initial settlement.