1st Edition

Domestic Mandala
Architecture of Lifeworlds in Nepal

ISBN 9780815346647
Published December 18, 2017 by Routledge
184 Pages

USD $44.95

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Book Description

A rich and fascinating ethnography of domestic architecture and activities among the high caste Chhetris of Kholagaun in Nepal, this book focuses on the spatial organization, everyday activities and ritual performances that generate and display Chhetri houses as 'mandalas', sacred diagrams that are both maps of the cosmos and machines for revelation. Describing the orientation and layout of the Chhetri house and surrounding compound; it shows how the orientation and distribution of everyday social activities with the domestic mandala shape people's experience of the enigmas of their lifeworld as householders; and analyses the double significance of rituals that take place in the domestic mandala. By treating the Nepali house as more than just the background of people's everyday life, the author reveals the Chhetri everyday lifeworld as a revelation of Hindu tantric cosmology, its enigmatic illusion, and the path to liberation from it. The themes addressed in the book make a unique contribution to the fields of anthropology, architecture and human geography.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: domestic space, activities and experience of the Cosmos; The sacred house: domestic space as Mandala; The auspicious house: materials, design and orientation; The constructed house: ritual creation of domestic space; The revelatory house: dwelling in the domestic Mandala; The matrimonial house: ritual appropriation of domestic space; Conclusion: architechne; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.

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John Gray is Professor of Anthropology and Head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide in Australia. He has two sites of long standing ethnographic fieldwork-a multi-caste village in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal and a sheep farming locality in the Scottish Borders. Each has led to the publication of a monograph.


'A masterful production, sophisticated, accessible, humane. John Gray discloses the tacit and embodied knowledge that makes the Nepalese house at once a dwelling-place of everyday activity and a machine and map of cosmic truth.' Nigel Rapport, Concordia University of Montreal, Canada '...a captivating ethnography of domestic architecture of the Chhetri clan in Kholagaun, Nepal. It is an important book for all those interested in the relationship between people and their residential environments.' British Journal of Sociology 'Gray...fully embracing a phenomenological approach...focuses on how the architecture of domestic space is both constructed as and experienced by the Kholagaon Chhetri as a mandala. Through such an experiential approach he brilliantly succeeds in taking his analysis way beyond the now rather trite insights of conventional structural, cognitive or psychological anthropology. Instead, by focusing on the way in which the Kholagaon Chhetri experience their domestic space through their daily activities he is able to demonstrate just how they acquire a largely pre-reflexive and unverbalized knowledge of their tantric Hindu cosmos. The manner in which he carries out this difficult task assuredly stamps this book as constituting a major contribution both to anthropological theory in general and to the understanding of ritual...This book should be read by all those interested in Hindu ritual and cosmology, in the anthropology of Nepal, in domestic architecture and human geography.' The Australian Journal of Anthropology '...for anyone who has travelled in the region and has lingering questions about the meaning of domestic places and spaces, or for those planning a trip to the Kathmandu Valley, this book unveils a rich layer of symbolic meanings and practices of and in the home.' Journal of Occupational Science 'Domestic Mandala is a major theoretical and ehtnographic treatise on the architecture, perception, usage, and imaging of space among high-ca