Houses for the Gods “For Sale”. The Journey of Sora paintings (India)

Cécile Guillaume-Pey (CEFRES-FMSH) will give a lecture within the Gellner seminar organized by the Czech Association for Social Anthropology (CASA– Česká Asociace pro Sociální Antropologii), the Masaryk Czech Society of Sociology, in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Where: New York University, Malé náměstí 11, Praha 1 – Staré Město (1st floor, entry from the passage), Prague.

Abstract: Among the Sora tribe (Odisha-Andhra Pradesh) one finds mural paintings in front of which sacrifices are performed. These images are considered to be houses for deities whose presence is thus materialized in the domestic space. Their designing is part of a ritual which requires close collaboration between a painter and other religious specialists who, through songs, invite local deities to inhabit the pictures. But these “altar-paintings” may be disconnected from the converging agencies set in motion by the ritual. As cultural emblems displayed in regional museums or as articles for sale in “tribal markets,’’ or even as animated movies used as political instruments denouncing the abuses perpetrated against Adivasi/Tribal groups, Sora paintings inspire a large range of modern-day media. We will follow the journey of these images which traverse cultural, ethnic, and national boundaries.