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Shepherd in Italy
The shepherd and the flock
Mounted shepherds, herd and sheepdog in Patagonia, Argentina

The term shepherd (also shepherd ) or guardian refers to a person who looks after a herd of farm animals (e.g. sheep , goats , formerly geese , pigs , cattle , horses , donkeys , especially in North Africa and the Middle East also camels , llamas in South America , working elephants in South and Southeast Asia , etc.). In Latin, shepherd means “ pastor ”; hence the term pastoralism , which stands for all forms of pastoral animal husbandry on natural pastures.

job profile

The traditional working environment of the shepherd is characterized by the proximity to his cattle. The shepherd sometimes stays on the pasture at night and protects his flock from predators and predators . Especially with large cattle (cattle, horses, camels) and medium-sized cattle (sheep, goats, pigs), this way of life includes nomadism in the case of extensive farming in order to stay in contact with the herd during the migratory movements. ( see: Wandering Shepherd )

In order to be able to defend himself against the dangers, the shepherd has only a small armament: his shepherd's staff , sometimes, like the biblical David , a sling , today firearm .

Closely related to the tradition of the pastoral system is the domestic dog , one of the earliest real pets a human, to numerous special shepherd dogs as guard dog , herding dog and guard dog is grown. He helps the shepherd to keep his flock together, senses danger and keeps the shepherd company.

Since shepherds in earlier times stayed with their flocks without interruption and had to move them to another place after the grazing of the grass, the shepherds often had no permanent residence. This is the root of the cultural conflicts between the nomads and the sedentary arable farmers worldwide, and probably for many millennia.

Reception of pastoralism

Bochum cowherd monument
Three shepherds in front of the stable of a nativity scene ( Mater Dolorosa (Berlin-Lankwitz) )

Already in ancient Egypt of the 12th dynasty , the subject was processed literarily in pastoral history .

In ancient poetry, the shepherd was the central figure of the bucolic , in the Middle Ages it was the shepherd's poetry .

The Bible uses the figure of the shepherd as a metaphor for God or the king; B. in the 23rd Psalm or in the parable of the good shepherd . Abel was already a shepherd.

Often the shepherd is also used as a symbol for the guardian role. There are numerous comparisons in the Bible in which a prophet is compared with a shepherd and his protégés with sheep. In the Christmas story, too , it is shepherds who first receive the news of the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve , rush to the stable in Bethlehem and worship the Christ child there ( Lk 2,8-20  EU ).

The figure of the shepherd (lat .: pastor ) has flowed as a model both into the professional profile of the Christian clergyman ( pastor ) and into art ( pastoral ).

It has become a myth in cultural history in various ways:


See also

Commons : Shepherds  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Shepherd  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations