NIAS Thesis Proposal Presentation: "Understanding Ritual Objects: An Ethnography of Bhuta Visual Culture" by Ms. Vijayashree C S, Lecture Hall, NIAS, 1400hrs

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus



Thesis  Proposal  Presentation



Understanding Ritual Objects: An Ethnography of Bhuta Visual Culture


Date: Tuesday, 26 September 2017



Ms. Vijayashree C S


Conference Hall 2, NIAS, 2:00 pm


Abstract: The popular understanding of rituals and their material culture is usually framed by traditional notions of aesthetics, beauty, and admissibility. But ritual objects acquire different meanings as they traverse through different sites. When used in a ceremony, ritual objects are sacred symbols communicating the subliminal meanings of the practice. The same objects may be sold as artefacts and antiques in the art market, where they have different meanings and purposes, while in a museum environment they are exhibited as symbols of cultural heritage. This study will focus on the visual culture of the Bhuta cult of coastal Karnataka, examining the use of Bhuta ritual objects in kolas (performances) as well as their presence in other contexts. The research will examine the multi-layered interactions and connections between ritual objects and ritual performances; the production of these objects by artisanal communities; and their circulation to, and consumption in, other sites such as tourist shops, antique emporiums, museums and private collections. The study will explore the changing significance and identity of these artefacts as they move through different ‘spheres of value’. Through an examination of the varying contextual meanings of ritual objects, the proposed research project will adopt a fresh theoretical perspective for understanding the contemporary meanings and lives of ritual objects.


All are invited to attend

Tuesday, September 26, 2017