SEROW.

Another odd word for your delectation: serow, “any of several goatlike artiodactyl mammals (genus Capricornis) of eastern Asia that are usually rather dark and heavily built and some of which have distinct manes.” Aside from the unusual name (it’s pronounced suh-ROH), what struck me was the etymology, “Lepcha sa-ro long-haired Tibetan goat.” Lepcha is a Tibeto-Burman language of Sikkim, spoken by the Lepcha, for whom, according to the Wikipedia entry, “sex is the main recreation…, beginning at age 10 or 11 and lasting throughout their lives. Adultery is expected and not viewed as a problem.” Ah, happy Lepcha!
As for the serow, according to Waiting for Wolves in Japan: An Anthropological Study of People-Wildlife Relations, by John Knight, the Japanese serow is a “national treasure” and “emblematic animal of Japan,” comparable to the Chinese panda. You learn something every day.

Comments

  1. Coincidentally, I was just at the zoo today and happened to see the pair of Japanese serows that they have there. Their informative sign also uses the phrase “national treature”, so it must be a common phrase.
    Re: the Lepcha. Does anyone else find such breathless accounts of sexual liberation in primitive cultures a bit incredible? I always suspect a Margaret Mead moment.

  2. The Lepcha page at the Peaceful Societies website links to a several other, reliable sources, as well as a series of recent news stories on the Lepcha. “Gender Relations” are summarized as follows:

    The people are highly tolerant of one another’s sexual activities, and they feel very little jealousy toward others. When disputes arise because of an extra-marital liaison to which one partner objects, the causes are blamed on the uncontrollable temperaments of individuals. However, when adultery occurs discretely, the aggrieved spouse will generally not pay attention; only if it is practiced openly and flagrantly will the other spouse appeal to the elected leader of the village.

    But in general the Lepche appear to define happiness more in terms of a full belly than sexual satisfaction, so probably the outsider’s focus on their love lives is a little misplaced.

  3. Whoever wrote that Wikipedia entry should join the new Dutch party called PNVD, unless they are already a member (not that it surprises me much, given the ties between Jimmy Wales and the πornogrαphy industry.

  4. Does anyone else find such breathless accounts of sexual liberation in primitive cultures a bit incredible? I always suspect a Margaret Mead moment.
    Yeah, me too (although from Jimmy Ho’s quote, it seems there’s something to it). I probably shouldn’t have included it, but it tickled my funnybone at the time.

  5. Does anyone else find such breathless accounts of sexual liberation in primitive cultures a bit incredible? I always suspect a Margaret Mead moment.

    Your Mead point is legit of course but my question is slightly different: In what human culture is the lifelong pursuit and practice of (and fixation upon) sex NOT the main recreation? I suppose the jarring part there was supposed to be the “beginning at age 10” part. Whatever.
    Further, in what human culture is adultery not, to some degree expected?
    Surely there is something more to these people that can describe them? OK, this goat post has gone astray. Sorry.

  6. Oh, posts (like goats) always go astray around here. We expect and welcome it.

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