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Title: Processes of cultural diversification in the evolution of Iranian tribal craft traditions
Author: Tehrani, Jamshid Johari
ISNI:       0000 0001 3515 7444
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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Debate regarding processes of cultural diversification has focused on the extent to which cultural assemblages are generated by ancestral entities branching into new ones (phylogenesis), or by borrowing and blending between contemporaneous entities (ethnogenesis). This case study addresses the relative contributions of both processes to Iranian tribal craft assemblages using biological phylogenetic methods and ethnographic data on the cultural transmission of weaving skills and designs. Analyses of a sample of textile traits associated with nine Iranian tribal populations suggests that both phylogenesis and ethnogenesis have influenced the evolution of their craft traditions: although the majority of resemblances among the assemblages are consistent with a hierarchical, tree-like pattern of descent, the strength of the conflicting signal indicates that a significant number of resemblances arose through other processes. This mixed pattern was investigated in relation to two hypotheses, both of which concern the structure of cultural assemblages. The first hypothesis proposes the existence of a set of 'core traditions' that evolve through branching, while other, 'peripheral' traits are borrowed and blended. The second hypothesis claims that rather than being constituted by a single core, cultural assemblages comprise 'multiple packages' of traits inherited from different sources. Although both hypotheses are supported to some extent, detailed examination of trait distribution patterns suggests that, rather than conforming to any single model, individual assemblages were generated by different cultural evolutionary processes. These are explored in relation to the history of a single design tradition - the 'Persian Garden Carpet' - in two groups of assemblages. Analyses of Garden Carpet designs used by different Turkmen tribes indicates that, among these groups, the tradition evolved mostly by descent from ancestral assemblages. In contrast, analyses of Garden Carpets woven by Bakhtiari populations indicates that they frequently shared and exchanged designs. The diversification of this tradition among both groups can be accounted for by the specific social and economic conditions of craft production in each case. It can therefore be concluded that processes of cultural diversification are determined by locally and historically specific factors that resist broad generalisation, even within the reasonably well defined regional context of this case study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available