the Piffle Theory

A brief anthropological look into a section of my shoes

Posted on: May 31, 2008

Several years ago I embarked on a wonderful adventure. This project has led me to many strange and beautiful lands as I slowly immersed myself into shoe culture. Specifically, I dealt with the unique culture of the Chucks, a nomadic group which separates itself into different tribes, each of which has a different migratory pattern. The group I joined was called the Skquéc, a name the people share with their language. In time I came to understand their language and social customs.

As I stated above, the various different tribes each have a specific migratory tract – no two tribes share the same lands. However, the shear amount of tribes and the limited territory in which they reside dictates that tribes do often cross paths with one another. These are on a whole cordial, with some rare occasions resulting in more friendly or violent ends. When two tribes do meet, it is customary for them to recognize the other with a greeting, yet still respect them with space enough to go about their private affairs.

The language of the Skquéc at first confused me. A very keen ear was needed to catch the subtle differences in their limited vocabulary. After a year I had nearly mastered it. By this time the tribe had become accustomed to my presence. The reproduction of the sounds in their language is a challenging thing for human vocal chords, yet I managed to skill my tongue enough to be understood. I was also able to discern what the three most frequently used phrases were, which are “maiuue”, “cquke skc”, and “riaricriarik”. All other phrases are simply alterations to the pronunciations of these three. This does lead to confusion around individuals who are strangers or who have their equivalent of a cold.

Within the tribe, the social structure is much the same as other species. The young do the scouting and other unpredictable activities. The old do not venture away from the group as much as the young; they pass knowledge and traditions to the next generation. However, this is very basic and not of any extreme significance. Much more interesting is their division of status based on physical appearance. It is rare for Chucks to not be of vibrant colours, but the Skquéc have the tendency to be more colourful and unique than other tribes. For that reason, any especially plain looking members of the tribe often feel the need to compensate, turning to tattoos and body art. This increases their importance within the group and generally promotes the unity of the group as a whole.

The Skquéc are an excellent example of a group that has managed to hold on to their general way of life in the wake of globalization. Although they are reasonably successful in global society, they maintain their basic individual culture and identity, even when other members of the Chucks forsake their traditions in light of modernization. It is this ability to blend the traditional life of their ancestors with an existence in a metropolitan area that deserves respect as well as further study.


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© 2008-2009

the Piffle Theory:

the unmentioned cousin of Creativity
(now in duck and rhino flavor!)

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