Hippophiles et hippophages


fr Anthropozoologica 45 (1) - Pages 115-135

Published on 25 June 2010

This article is a part of the thematic issue Meat and Societies: Ordinary and extraordinary diet

Horse-eaters and horse-lovers

At the North-Eastern extremity of the Turkic-speaking world, in Eastern Siberia, the Yakuts have adapted the steppe pastoral system to the environment of taiga and its strikingly harsh climate. Horse husbandry is extremely extensive and mainly devoted to food production. In response to F. Poplin’s paper (1992) Le cheval, viande honteuse [Horse Flesh, a Shameful Meat], I insist on the lack of any horse-eating taboo among Yakuts and its consequences on the consumption of horse meat (all parts are eaten, fat and offal being particularly important), as well as on how meat is displayed and shared. Finally I draw a comparison between horse and pig and between horse and cow among Yakut and French people. In Yakutia, horse is situated at a “good distance” from man: thus, it can be eaten, and no contradiction exists between eating horse meat and loving horses.


Hippophily, hippophagy, horse, Yakuts, Eastern Siberia.

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