A nonsensical post from the armchair anthropologist

This is just a ridiculous bit of musing I did the other day when I was wandering down the beach, lugging half my weight in rocks in a bright pink Victoria’s Secret bag. I’m tempted to justify my behavior by explaining what I was doing, but I’ll just leave you with that bizarre visual.

Anyhow, I was immensely grateful for my pink canvas bag at the time, because the rocks were heavy, and I started thinking about what a genius invention the bag is. We hear all the time about fire and the wheel. Sure those are great inventions, but the bag probably came before both.

Imagine the awe of the person who first decided to take an animal skin, gather the ends and use it to lug nuts or berries or sticks or babies or whatever needed to be carried. Suddenly she was no longer limited by what they could carry her hands. The sky was the limit! As long as she could lift it, she could carry it! I say “she” because if females were indeed the gatherers, they had a more immediate need for bags and containers.

No, it’s not nearly as sexy as discovering fire, but it must have been a pretty glorious ah-ha moment.

Update: My husband just pointed out that Native Americans seemed to prefer baskets over bags. And, actually, now that I think about it, baskets were used in many cultures. So maybe the basket came first and the bag wasn’t such a big deal. Anyone have any thoughts on this?  If so, leave ’em in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “A nonsensical post from the armchair anthropologist

    • Thank you! Your comment actually makes me feel better about this post – I was sort of on the fence about actually putting it up.

  1. A bag is much easier to sling over your shoulder than a basket (speaking of visuals). The Native Americans also used beautiful hide bags decorated with beads, as well as baskets. I think you’re on to something!

  2. Baskets have always struck me as being something in which to store things. Bags, on the other hand, are for toting.

    How do you get the things to store if you don’t have something in which to tote those things?

  3. Jeanne and Hilts, those are really good thoughts. It would be awkward (albeit idyllic) to schlep a basket when you were out gathering. You can carry so much more weight when you’re carrying something over your shoulder rather than over your arm, and if you have to fight off a wild animal, you need to have your hands free. Heck, that’s the concept that made Coco Chanel’s chain strap purse such a success in the ’50s. (The hands-being-free concept, not the fighting-off-a-wild-animal concept.) Thanks ladies!

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