The boys and I had dinner at Trattoria Girasole, on Pearl Street, this evening. There was a very accomplished duo playing Greek, Gypsy, Celtic and Spanish music on violin, guitar, bouzouki: E Muzeki.

We also watched the first episode of Guns, Germs and Steel on PBS, which Youngest Son proclaimed a retread of 7th, 8th and 9th grade social studies. The author claimed that there were only fourteen large domesticated animals:

Goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, donkeys, Badrian camels [sic], Arabian camels, water buffalo, llamas, reindeer, yaks, nithans, and bally cattle.

Nithans? What’s a nithan? I may have to schlep myself to the actual paper and ink encyclopedia.



  1. kezzykat

    Nithans??? I am at a loss as to what they should and could be..and googling still has me in the dark!

    Dinner sounds like it was fabulous..a lovely summery night happening. I hanker for those, an d came close by going to the Din sum Chinese last week lol..not the same though.

    take c are


  2. Bumblebee

    I missed the first episode? I’ll be really irritated with myself if I did this by watching Hell’s Kitchen (which is terrible).

  3. mdmhvonpa

    Nithans? Yeah … it sounds like a family designation … but misspelled.

  4. Katja (Post author)

    Bumblebee, they’ve got complete transcripts of the episode at

  5. James Medhurst

    Guns, Germs and Steel is a great book. I hope the TV series comes to the UK. No idea what a Nithan is though.

  6. Bumblebee


  7. Jane

    We found your website while googling “nithan”. We will continue searching. Good luck! Do you know what bally cattle are?

  8. Jane


    Okay, it’s a “mithan.” Here’s a very brief definition:

    “ox of southeast Asia sometimes considered a domesticated breed of the gaur”

    Here’s a photo:

    Thanks to Dana Carpender of

  9. Katja (Post author)

    Well done! Thanks for posting the answer here.

  10. Katja (Post author)

    Bally cattle – I haven’t found much. There are two major domesticated cattle species, bos taurus (European) and bos indicus (Indian), see Farming, from Ancient to Zoo (scroll down to cattle). There is a brief reference to Bally in Cattle in the Middle Ages, but it appears to be the progenitor of one of many b. taurus varieties.

  11. Jane

    I’ve solved that one too….It’s Bali cattle. That website sure could use a proofreader!

  12. Katja (Post author)

    You’re amazing! Thanks. Here’s some information on Bali cattle (bos javanicus).

    I also noticed that the transcript has now been corrected – the power of the web?


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