Departing from an ethnographic collection in London, From Storeroom to Stage traces the journey of its artefacts back to the Romanian villages where they were made 70 years ago, and to other places where similar objects are still in use. The book explores the role that material culture plays in the production of value and meaning by examining how folk objects are mobilized in national ideologies, transmissions of personal and family memory, museological discourses, and artistic acts.
Devil worship, black magic, and witchcraft have long captivated anthropologists as well as the general public. In this volume, Jean La Fontaine explores the intersection of expert and lay understandings of evil and the cultural forms that evil assumes. The chapters touch on public scares about devil-worship, misconceptions about human sacrifice and the use of body parts in healing practices, and mistaken accusations of children practicing witchcraft. Together, these cases demonstrate that comparison is a powerful method of cultural understanding, but warns of the dangers and mistaken conclusions that untrained ideas about other ways of life can lead to.
Inuit hunting traditions are rich in perceptions, practices and stories relating to animals and human beings. The authors examine key figures such as the raven, an animal that has a central place in Inuit culture as a creator and a trickster, and qupirruit , a category consisting of insects and other small life forms. After these non-social and inedible animals, they discuss the dog, the companion of the hunter, and the fellow hunter, the bear, considered to resemble a human being. A discussion of the renewal of whale hunting accompanies the chapters about animals considered ‘prey par excellence’: the caribou, the seals and the whale, symbol of the whole. By giving precedence to Inuit categories such as ‘inua’ (owner) and ‘tarniq’ (shade) over European concepts such as ‘spirit ‘and ‘soul’, the book compares and contrasts human beings and animals to provide a better understanding of human-animal relationships in a hunting society.
Over uncounted generations the Tlingits and Haidas of Southeast Alaska developed a spoken literature as robust and distinctive as their unique graphic art style, and passed it from the old to the young to ensure the continuity of their culture. Even today when the people gather, now under lamplight rather than the flickering glow from the central fire pit, the ancient myths and legends are told and retold, and they still reinforce the unity of the lineage, and clan and the culture. Mary Beck has selected nine of the ancient myths and legends from the oral literature that are authentic for one group or another from this region.
A luminous translation of Arabic tales of enchantment and wonder Translated into English for the very first time, A Hundred and One Nights is a marvelous example of the rich tradition of popular Arabic storytelling. Like the celebrated Thousand and One Nights , this collection opens with the frame story of Scheherazade, the vizier’s gifted daughter who recounts imaginative tales night after night in an effort to distract the murderous king from taking her life. A Hundred and One Nights features an almost entirely different set of stories, however, each one more thrilling, amusing, and disturbing than the last. Here, we encounter tales of epic warriors, buried treasure, disappearing brides, cannibal demon-women, fatal shipwrecks, and clever ruses, where human strength and ingenuity play out against a backdrop of inexorable, inscrutable fate. Distinctly rooted in Arabic literary culture and the Islamic tradition, these tales draw on motifs and story elements that circulated across cultures, including Indian and Chinese antecedents, and features a frame story possibly older than its more famous sibling. This vibrant translation of A Hundred and One Nights promises to transport readers, new and veteran alike, into its fantastical realms of magic and wonder.An English-only edition.
Insights into power, spectacle, and performance in the courts of Middle Eastern rulers In recent decades, scholars have produced much new research on courtly life in medieval Europe, but studies on imperial and royal courts across the Middle East have received much less attention, particularly for courts before 1500AD. In the Presence of Power, however, sheds new light on courtly life across the region. This insightful, exploratory collection of essays uncovers surprising commonalities across a broad swath of cultures. The pre-modern period in this volume includes roughly seven centuries, opening with the first dynasty of Islam, the Umayyads, whose reign marked an important watershed for Late Antique culture, and closing with the rule of the so-called “gunpowder” empires of the Ottomans and Safavids over much of the Near East in the sixteenth century. In between, this volume locates similarities across the Western Medieval, Byzantine and Islamicate courtly cultures, spanning a vast history and geography to demonstrate the important cross-pollinations that occurred between their literary and cultural legacies. This study does not presume the presence of one shared courtly institution across time and space, but rather seeks to understand the different ways in which contemporaries experienced and spoke about these places of power and performance. Adopting a very broad view of performances, In the Presence of Power includes exuberant expressions of love in Arabic stories, shadow plays in Mamluk Cairo, Byzantine storytelling, religious food traditions in Christian Cyprus, advice, and political and ethnographic performances of power.
We've become accustomed to the wisdom of the ancient Greeks being trotted out by conservatives in the name of timeless virtues. At the same time, critics have charged that multiculturalists and their ilk have hopelessly corrupted the study of antiquity itself, and that the teaching of Classics is dead. Trojan Horses is Page duBois's answer to those who have appropriated material from antiquity in the service of a conservative political agendaamong them, Camille Paglia, Allan Bloom, and William Bennett. She challenges cultural conservatives' appeal to the authority of the classics by arguing that their presentation of ancient Greece is simplistic, ahistorical, and irreparably distorted by their politics. As well as constructing a devastating critique of these pundits, Trojan Horses seeks to present a more complex and more accurate view of ancient Greek politics, sex, and religion, with a Classics primer. She eloquently recounts the tales of Daedalus and Artemis, for example, conveying their complexity and passion, while also unearthing actions and beliefs that do not square so easily with today's «family values.» As duBois writes, «Like Bennett, I think we should study the past, but not to find nuggets of eternal wisdom. Rather we can comprehend in our history a fuller range of human possibilities, of beginnings, of error, and of difference.» In these fleet chapters, duBois offers readers a view of the ancient Greeks that is more nuanced, more subtle, more layered and in every way more historical than the portrait other writers, of whatever stripe, want to popularize and see displayed in our classrooms. Sharp, timely, and engaging, Trojan Horses portrays the richness of ancient Greek culture while riding in to rescue the Greeks from the new barbarians.
The aristocrat who wrote this vigorous political play eschewed sentimentality in favor of realistic characterization and forceful action. It is 316 BCE, one year after Chandra·gupta Maurya, aided by his subtle minister Chánakya, has seized the kingdom of Mágadha from the last king of the Nanda dynasty. Rákshasa, Nanda’s incorruptible minister, flees abroad and plots his vengeance, while Chánakya seeks to win him over to honor Chandra·gupta Maurya as his new king.The aristocrat who wrote this vigorous political play eschewed sentimentality in favor of realistic characterization and forceful action. It is 316 BCE, one year after Chandra·gupta Maurya, aided by his subtle minister Chanákya, has seized the kingdom of Mágadha from the last king of the Nanda dynasty. Rákshasa, Nanda's incorruptible minister, flees abroad and plots his vengeance, while Chanákya seeks to win him over to honor Chandra·gupta Maurya as his new king.Co-published by New York University Press and the JJC FoundationFor more on this title and other titles in the Clay Sanskrit series, please visit http://www.claysanskritlibrary.org
The great war of the Maha bharata is over. Or is it? This is a single extended family wracked in conflict. Both sides succumbed to treachery. Ashva tthaman, the young leader of the three survivors on the losing side, is incensed at his father’s murder. He returns after dark to the now sleeping encampment. The sacrifice of the unsuspecting champions, the «Dead of Night,» ensues. The five sons of Pandu have escaped. After a final confrontation, a missile crisis, Ashva tthaman concedes defeat but redirects his missile into the wombs of the victors’ women. They miscarry, and cannot hope for more children. Now the survivors, victors and vanquished, must struggle to comprehend their loss. «The Women» of both sides are confronted by their men’s mangled corpses in a masterpiece of horror and pathos. But their potent curses must be curbed to usher in a new era. Maha bharata Books Ten and Eleven give voice to the vanquished, to the psychology of loss and the conflicting desires for understanding and revenge.
“Bhishma,” the sixth book of the eighteen-book epic The Maha•bhárata, narrates the first ten days of the great war between the Káuravas and the Pándavas. This first volume covers four days from the beginning of the great battle and includes the famous “Bhágavad•gita (“The Song of the Lord”), presented here within its original epic context. In this “bible” of Indian civilization the charioteer Krishna empowers his disciple Árjuna to resolve his personal dilemma: whether to follow his righteous duty as a warrior and slay his opponent relatives in the just battle, or to abstain from fighting and renounce the warrior code to which he is born. “Bhishma,” the sixth book of the eighteen-book epic The Maha•bhárata, narrates the first ten days of the great war between the Káuravas and the Pándavas. This first volume covers four days from the beginning of the great battle and includes the famous “Bhágavad•gita (“The Song of the Lord”), presented here within its original epic context. In this “bible” of Indian civilization the charioteer Krishna empowers his disciple Árjuna to resolve his personal dilemma: whether to follow his righteous duty as a warrior and slay his opponent relatives in the just battle, or to abstain from fighting and renounce the warrior code to which he is born.