In wide ranging cultures, in both the middle-east and South America, gods or god-like beings are shown holding what looks like small purses. The purpose of the question is to think of an interesting, exotic, but plausible explanation of what they are used for. In addition to the 'purses', the depictions often have the figure wearing two watch-like bracelets on their wrists, and the other hand is precisely holding an oblong object that looks like a pear-sized pine cone.

These objects tend to be held by people who were considered leaders and/or information givers to their communities (including some half-fish folks, who returned each evening to the ocean, as they were amphibious). They just strike me as being very specific and odd for them to be carrying these items. A few (subjective) conclusions I draw:

  1. Both hands of the leader are occupied (or at least one if they aren't holding the pine cone) which makes them somewhat vulnerable, at least in my eyes. If they objects could be used as weapons, they would look less vulnerable, but they do not seem very weapon-like to me.

  2. Purse always has a substantial handle that can swivel to carry the purse, which tends to have a flat bottom. So does that mean it is heavy? To be set down on occasion? If it is important to have with you, why carry it as a purse? Why not carry it as a back-pack or a fanny-pack? Does it exude extreme heat or cold (or radiation?) such that it can't be kept close to the body?

  3. Why are these objects associated with leaders? Are they indicative of the tools these people used to exhibit leadership, with their function, or are they just things that the leaders seemed to have with them.

Some people have thought the purse held seeds or drugs, but it does not look like a bag to hold seeds or drugs. It seems too sturdy for that.

To reiterate, the question is to think of a plausible explanation for the 'purse' (some exotic thinking may be needed), and perhaps some of the other items as well. Note that the existing explanations (holding seeds, holding drugs) do not make sense to me and I think are basically guesses on the part of researchers.

The best answer is one which provides the best explanation for the three items (purse, wristwatches, and pine cone) as parts of a coherent system or technology.

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  • $\begingroup$ this fits in at least two of the categories listed here: every answer is equally valid, and it looks like an open ended question. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch I disagree. I stated above that calling it a bag holding seeds or drugs was not acceptable and didn't make sense. Every and any answer is NOT equally valid. $\endgroup$
    – Jiminion
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 19:26
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Jiminion You simply state that you don't think they could hold seeds or drugs and that it doesn't make sense to you. They could be the correct answer but you wouldn't accept them because in your opinion its isn't correct. This question actually feels like you want a proper real world explanation, rather than a worldbuilding explanation to me and the alien tag feels like you want to start some conspiracy theory. Are you actually world building? or looking for proper real world possibilities? $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 0:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi Jiminion, I think you may have misunderstood the scope of this site. We don't do brainstorming or idea-generation. Stack Exchange works to produce single, best answers and right now this question has a plethora of equally plausible answers. Thus, I've voted to place your question on hold so you can edit it without getting swamped by unhelpful answers. $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure that's a purse? Looks like a cheese shredder to me, he even has some cheese in his other hand, and that's totally explicable. On a more serious note, the question does appear to be primarily opinion-based and needs clear criteria for how the best answer will be selected. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 4:30

2 Answers 2


In the 17th-century Midland Revolt, a man called "Captain Pouch" got a bunch of people to follow him by saying (or implying) that his purse contained some kind of document from the King authorising him to lead the revolt. (It turned out to contain a piece of cheese).

Symbols can be pretty powerful, and a symbol mysteriously concealed in a purse may be even more so; like with the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, not knowing what the bag contains lets people imagine it to be more impressive than anything it could actually be.


The first thing that comes to my mind is a cuneiform tablet.

The cone-shaped object is a clay tablet with cuneiform inscriptions, while the purse holds the tools needed to inscribe the tablet.

The tools consist of at least one wooden stylus, but a ruler would probably have a seal as well. Anyone getting hold of the seal could impersonate the ruler in any written document, thereby starting wars or enacting laws. So of course the ruler would always have his personal seal close by. These clay objects are hard and it's uncomfortable to wear them in a pocket or in your tunic (at least when you're used to the finest fabrics as rulers are wont to do).

Displaying those tools is a display of knowledge and power in itself, so they substitute for a cepter or crown.

  • $\begingroup$ Since they are so old, I've been thinking they are pre-cursors to the sceptre and orb. $\endgroup$
    – Jiminion
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 14:20

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