The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies

The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies

Language: English

Pages: 146

ISBN: 1614271232

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


2011 Reprint of 1954 American Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. This is perhaps the first systematic study of the custom, widespread in primitive societies from ancient Rome to present-day Melanesia, of exchanging gifts. The gift is conceived as a transaction forming part of all human, personal relationships between individuals and groups. These gift exchanges are at the same time moral, economic, juridical, aesthetic, religious, mythological and social phenomena. A classic work.

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personality, which speaks, is in communion with the owner, contains his soul, and so on.^^^ Each of these precious objects and tokens of wealth has, as amongst the Trobrianders, its name,^®^ quality and power.^*" all these clans they are spiritual in origin DISTRIBUTION OF THE SYSTEM The large abalone shells,^ ^^ 43 the shields covered with them, the decorated blankets with faces, eyes, and animal and figures embroidered and woven into them, are The all human personal- and

societies of the least We are talking no longer in terms of law. We and their sentiments that are in action all the time. are talking of Let us demonstrate men and groups since this point. What we —prestation between clan and clan we know. V^j^oldest economic system gift-exchange arose. Now which we are striving we The to it is call total prestation which individuals and in It is to visualize — the constitutes the base from which precisely this same type towards on

Niticastra is not economic in tone. . It is only our Western societies that quite recently turned nianjntp an economic animal. But we are not yet all animals of the same species. In ,_both lower and u pper class.es pure^ irrational expenditure is in current practice: it is still charac- Homo oeconomicus is not behind us, but before, like the moral man, the man of duty, the scientific man and the reasonable man. For a long time man teristic of some French noble houses. was something

by gentes), to the individuality of their former possessors and to contracts beings. There value is still subjective. For instance made between moral still valued according H.M.S., Vol. II, p. 527; the strings of pearls used as currency in Melanesia are to the measure of the person who gives them Vol. I, pp. 64, 71, 10 1, 160 ff. Cf. the expression Schulterfaden : Forschungen, Vol. Ill, pp. 41 ff.; Vol. I, p. 189; Huftschnur, Vol. I, p. 263. We shall note other examples of these

these precious things from groups and individuals and of making them permanent instruments of value measurement universal, if not entirely rational for lack of any better system. Thus we hold there was a form of money consisting, as in Africa and — — Asia today, of blocks and bars of copper, iron, etc., or cattle as in ancient society or present-day Afi^ica. ** Argonauts, PI. XIX. It seems that Trobriand women, like the NorthWest American 'princesses', serve as a means of displaying wealth,

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